Tag Archives: North Coast

Our souls were satisfied on the pebbly beach.

Daughter Kate and her family are still here, and Pippin’s family also came to visit for a couple of days. We women took the kids to the beach, one that is becoming a favorite; it’s a little farther to drive to, but there is no undertow or other dangerous feature, and the sand is tiny pebbles. It doesn’t blow in your face and is much much easier to deal with at picnics — or in diapers.

Rigo liked this kind of sand very much for exploring orally; Kate spent a lot of time with her boys helping them to focus on the visual aspect of the smooth stones.

Scout joked he was on a mission to clean out the ocean; he and his siblings dragged up many sea vegetables and other live things. Pippin found starfish on a rock and brought them up for everyone to see for a few minutes before she put them back in a wetter place. The long-leaved kelp Rigo is touching had washed in still attached to its stone anchor.

Gooseneck Barnacle

Kate and Pippin took a lot of pictures that they shared with me, which is why I am featured in some scenes here. Raj understandably did not want to brave that wild surf on his own, but he did like throwing pebbles or grass into the waves from on high, secure in the arms of his aunt or grandma. We each took many turns with this routine, running down close enough to let the next wave wash over our feet, and to see Raj’s beaming face.

Ivy collected shells and used them to decorate the little mountain in which she buried my feet. Then we did the same to her. She looked much more elegant than I had as she received the warm sand treatment.

Pippin brought me special presents, as it were, a couple of tiny pieces of beach glass, and a strange little item she said appeared to be a bit of plant matter with grains of the pebbly sand embedded in it. That night I found that she had also taken a picture of me taking a picture of it. What a daughter!

Scout engaged his mother in a study of wave patterns. He had to hike back up the cliff to get a notebook from the car, in which they then recorded a series of waves, judging their relative size, to see if big ones came at regular intervals. It doesn’t seem to have been a long-term project.

Meanwhile, Jamie waited an hour or two before he was willing to get his feet wet. Then he had a lot of fun! This baby who was gentlemanly from the start, waiting to make his appearance until after we had said goodbye to his Grandpa Glad, is now five years old, and a real boy.

 

There were new plants for me to discover at the coast, as well as old favorites. Here are a few wildflowers I saw:

Silver Beach Weed
Indian sweet-clover
Pacific Gumplant

Kate and I were both grateful to Pippin for making our beach outing happen. Once more I had gone because someone else prompted me. August and September typically are the best months for pleasant weather on the North Coast, and I’m going to try very hard to go all on my own! It is always the most soul-satisfying place to spend some time.

The face of the earth ever renewed.

common yarrow

This sunny morning my neighbor Kim and I drove separately to the coast and met for a walk. On my winding way through the hills, I noticed Queen Anne’s Lace swaying in the breeze along the roadway. Trees, grasses and shrubs were painted in the gentlest pastel colors of lavender, green, and yellow-orange. The Psalter played through my speakers, and one of the Psalms I heard was 104, which is part of every Orthodox Saturday Vespers. It begins:

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,
Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.

beach suncup

Once we set out at our brisk pace, I was distracted somewhat from my surroundings, except through my bare feet, which kept me tuned to the cool and firm sand under them, or the waves that splashed over. Though lots of people walked close to the surf, the beach in general wasn’t crowded. I had the feeling it must be the healthiest place around, with the quantities of sea air flowing freshly in and around us all.

I lost track of time. Eventually we parted in the parking lot, and then I wandered by myself in the dunes for a while looking at flowering plants known and unknown to me. I’ve managed to identify most of them — I think.

Ribwort Plantain
Silver Beachweed
non-native sand spurry
what we call ice plant – native of South Africa
Buck’s-horn Plantain

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions—
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.
There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan
Which You have made to play there.

These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

Yellow Bush Lupine

If I hadn’t had another obligation in the afternoon, I think I would have meandered up and down the coast till dusk. I’ve never been more thankful that I live close enough to be in the domain of the sand and the sea and the flowers, on a warm and sweet June day.

 

Seals and pelicans wait for the sun.

At least, that’s what it seemed to me they were doing. At Jenner-by-the-Sea so many Pacific Harbor Seals give birth and rear their young on the sand spits that they call it a rookery or a nursery. It’s where the Russian River opens into the Pacific along the North Coast of California, and the beach there is called Goat Rock. This photo shows them on both sides of the river, the town hidden by fog above the farthest shore.

My friend and I had made the drive to the beach pretty early in the morning, having been told by the weather people that it would be mostly sunny. It was not — but 60° and not windy is pretty good for this coastline, where beaches are not consistently sunny until August or September.

You’re not supposed to get closer than 50 feet to the seals; I think we were a little closer than that, but we stood quietly staring and none of the animals seemed to mind us or change what they were doing. The seals didn’t move much, but their various colors were interesting, and they would go in and come out of the water occasionally, or look up at us.

The pelicans were more thrilling, and even more numerous, flying back and forth or just hanging with the sea gulls and seals. But they were also harder to photograph! In the middle of the middle picture below, it’s pelicans who are forming a flotilla in the river. We didn’t see any diving to fish.

After stopping by another beach where we enjoyed some of that “mostly sun,” we took a slightly different route back inland along a narrow road where bright patches of wildflowers caught my attention, springing up through the dry grass.

clarkia
rattlesnake grass

I especially noticed the leaves on the one just above, because they resembled those of the little native beach plant in my garden, Eriogonum latifolium or seaside buckwheat, that I bought at a local nursery three years ago. It has never bloomed, or even grown very much.

When I got home, I went out back to take a picture to compare, and what do you know? It is blooming right now!! And I do believe…

experiences of sand

A couple of weeks before my birthday, which is today, Mrs. C proposed a trip to the North Coast for a walk on the beach, which we planned to do yesterday. A week ago we noticed that rain was on the forecast all the way to the coast, so we thought we might end up taking a sedentary drive, and eat crab on the way.

We met at her house, where across the road I found sourgrass – Oxalis pes-caprae – in abundance. I didn’t know until I looked up the botanical name just now that it is considered a noxious weed around here. Its bright color drenched with rain made it reflect all the midday light.

 

Mrs. C has peach blossoms by her deck. I’m glad she is the kind of friend who doesn’t mind slowing down while I take pictures of everything. Well, not quite everything.

You can see from these photos how the sky was white or gray with clouds. We had our umbrellas with us when we set out.

After we enjoyed our little lunch, sitting in her truck on a bluff overlooking the ocean, we walked down to Schoolhouse Beach, not even bringing our umbrellas, because there was no sign of rain. I know God held the rain off because He wanted me to have a birthday walk on the sand. 🙂

 

And not just a walk, but a look at the sand. We sat on rocks and sifted through the sand that on this particular beach is very gravelly. No grain of sand was too small to hold separately in our fingers. Here is a close-up:

Remember when last month I saw the sand display in Pacific Grove? Soon afterward I did buy some small bottles in hopes of filling them with sand from my explorations. I managed to have two with me, and I collected the first sample at this beach. It even contained a piece of beach glass.

You might notice in that photo above the blue sky in the background. For much of the afternoon we were under a clear and blue ceiling, though we could see fog banks and clouds moving in on three sides of us.

Mrs. C didn’t bring a camera or a bottle, but she made her own collection of some of the larger pebbles.

This beach is dangerous for swimming, as are many on California’s North Coast. It has a sharp drop-off that I think is somehow connected to the frequency of “sleeper” or rogue waves, plus undercurrents that are hard to escape from.  Just last month a woman was swept off a rock here and drowned.

After a while we drove five minutes south to Salmon Creek Beach where the sand was more like sand. The fog and clouds had covered the sun, and the sea gulls were lined up facing the wind. Those birds must have known that we had no food, because they ignored us on both beaches.

We walked even more along here, after I scooped up “plain” sand into my second bottle. Iceplant and sourgrass and other flowers I don’t know are starting to bloom. This one I haven’t been able to identify so far:

It was growing on the edges of a lagoon that has been receding. Salmon  Creek flows through the lagoon on its way to the sea, making always-new carvings through the sand. This was our last view as we reluctantly made our way up the cliff and left the wide views behind us.

It had been a lovely gift of a day. Within a minute of my leaving Mrs.  C’s house, thundershowers began, and I drove through ten or fifteen of them before I got home.

 

I need to put a couple of empty bottles in my bags right now while I’m thinking of it, and start planning my next adventure so as to include sand. 🙂