It’s the height of tourist season, but on this cool, damp morning, the beach is almost empty. A marine layer hugs the coastline, blanketing everything in fog. I walk at the water’s edge, soothed by the lullaby of the drifting tide and a seagull’s muffled cries.
Gentle waves drift ashore–foamy crests on steely-gray water. I contemplate the ebbs and flows of my own life, and pull my loved ones close in my thoughts. It’s a primal urge, I think, this wanting to absorb with all our senses these “gifts from the sea.”
When the fog lifts, I scan the horizon with my camera. Could it be? At the furthest reach of my zoom lens–below the oceanfront mansions with floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive balconies–a herd of seals has taken up temporary residence on the craggy, offshore rocks.
A seagull flaps its wings frenetically, as if to say to the napping seal, “Wake up, sleepy head!!” But the seal just blinks really slow, rolls away from this annoyance, and goes about the business of being a mammal who loves nothing more than snoozing by the sea.
Meanwhile…another type of drama!
A jogger passes me, circles back to see what I’m filming. “You a tourist?” he asks.
I must’ve looked puzzled, because he points to my camera.
“Oh, this. I always take it with me.”
Why? Because you never know when you might come upon a heart-shaped piece of sea glass, nestled into Mother Nature’s jewelry box. And who knows? You might also find yourself at the threshold of something new –deeply satisfying but wholly unexpected.
For Part II of my video shoot (sounds of the sea, seagulls & seals), click here.
Spread your wings/ It’s time to fly/ Make the leap/ Own the sky. —Ms. Moem
I took Sara to the beach on Friday. We stopped at the market first, though, to grab a picnic dinner.
It’s kind of a big deal, at Sara’s age, to choose your own meal. I got a small container of basil pasta salad, with sundries tomatoes and olives. She grabbed a Lunchable, grapes, medjool dates…and a croissant.
Croissant: a hint of something delicious on the horizon. Sara’s taking an all-girls trip to France next week, with her grandmother and mommy. Oooh la la!
Sara’s growing so quickly now, in every single way. Take on the boys in a game of Nine Square in the Air? She’s on it!
Wade in the water? Look at that smile!
When the waves arch and froth at the water’s edge, she just roots herself in the sand.
A not-so-random thought eventually bubbles to the surface.
“Mommy says we’re going to eat snails in Paris,” Sara tells me. “Sorry, escargot.” She describes the dish as it’s been related to her: tiny snails, smothered in heavy sauce. “I don’t know yet if I’m really going to eat them,” she says.
I tell her that I chickened out when I had the chance.
“I wish I hadn’t,” I say.
“Sometimes,” I’m quick to add, because it’s always best to be honest.
“Give them a try,” I suggest. “Even if it’s just a teeny tiny bite, you’ll be proud of yourself for being brave. And who knows, you might decide you like them!”
Food for thought…
Hungry seagulls snatch the last of the grapes. Church groups are staking out the fire pits, and the lifeguard — zipped into a red jacket, now–is standing watch.
Who’s chasing whom? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Sara falls on purpose, soaks her dress in ocean water. She tries to pull me down, too, but I caution her against it.
Next time, I tell her. “I don’t want to get my camera wet.”
Thing is, I like wading in the tide pools. I love digging my toes into wet sand, and I don’t mind water swirling around my ankles. I took swimming lessons after my sons were born. Basic lifesaving techniques, for my sake and theirs. But –and — I always make sure I’m within very close range of the lifeguard station.
I nearly drowned when I was her age. I don’t tell her that.
I tell her instead, that she can achieve whatever she sets her mind to–the sky’s the limit.
And it occurs to me that maybe next time I could, maybe should, venture just a tiny bit further into the waves. I’ll be proud of myself for being brave enough to try, I tell myself, and who knows, I might decide I like it.
Ho Ho Ho! Mother Nature gave me some spectacular gifts this holiday season. You, too?
When I stepped onto my front porch, for instance, I realized that a hummingbird’s been ferrying fresh fluff-and-stuff to the fuchsia plant along our walkway. Using her beak as a needle, and spider silk as thread, she stitches the cushiony material to a sturdy branch. A quick whirl of her tail feathers, and voilà! Her walnut-sized home’s beginning to take shape. #RoomAtTheInn
Just yesterday, I spied a pair of perky ears, lurking behind the low-lying wall in our backyard. Could it be…? Yes! Wile E. Coyote loped along our fence, and then posed for the camera before trotting up the neighboring hillside.
Oh, and hey, did you notice the tender green shoots, poking their heads through the damp soil at his feet? We’ve had lots more rainstorms of late, and the thirsty soil is gulping it right down! Here’s hoping El Niño showers us with bountiful rains this winter, so we’ll have wildflowers aplenty, come springtime.
“Walking in a Winter Wonderland” might suggest snow flurries and hot chocolate to some, but it sings to me of blue skies and sandy beaches.
When sunlight slants through the water just so, the waves sparkle and shimmer like jewels. Nudged by strong currents, they’re capped these days with frothy meringue peaks. You can’t buy holiday treats like this, anywhere! But at Aliso Creek Beach, they’re free for the taking.
Here, the simple joys of the holiday season, accompanied by the ocean’s magnum opus.
The sun sinks below the horizon, and a pair of surfers wash ashore.
Behold! They stand at the water’s edge, in soggy board shorts and dreads. We witness together the grandeur of this moment.
In this season of giving, we’re encouraged also to receive…
Unspeakable joys, for those who watch and listen. Timeless gifts, no proof of purchase required and no expiration date.