Junuary Beach Walking

A lazy few days when my mind turns to journal keeping. Some words leak out of the word factory upstairs, but mostly I have been struck with the sheer delight of living, without feeling the need to document any of the day-to-day concerns or cares. Perhaps my observation powers have been placed on ice, much like this redwood glen that I live on the edge of lay coated this early morning in a quick freeze. As the sun first came out of the forest I could see the intensity of this frost that managed to gloss all outward surfaces, most visible on neighboring roof tops. When the sun struck my house about nine o’clock this morning, the frost caused a steam to rise from my own roof and from the forest. We are on the edge by a day or two of some meaningful arctic blast. The spell of Junuary will soon be broken with much needed and forgotten rain. People have been talking about what has become of the rain. The amount this year has been pitiful. Last winter the pouring hardly seemed to stop. A Pacific high pressure ridge somewhere between here and Alaska must be breaking down, opening the rain door to keep us thirsty Californians good for another year of water drinking.

I took a long walk on the beach today, as I have for the previous two. A low tide at about noon has made the hard-packed sand easy to walk on. With a high tide, when only soft sand is available to accommodate my wobbly legs, I skip my encounter with the ebbing surf line and walk above on the pavement, where I can still see and hear the water, while I mingle with other pedestrians and dog walkers. Dogs going toward each other on their leashes tend to stop and sniff each other, while their owners chat about the breeds they own. I have no dogs, so if I really must know what breed a certain dog is, I must ask the owner, and the owner looks at me as if to say that I should not ask since I am not walking with a dog. I never see anybody walking a cat, but one day someone stopped me to point out a sparrow hawk sitting on a power line over my head. That was nice of him. And when I walk on the sand I often see dolphins leaping about and skimming the blue surface. They show up so much better when the sea is calm and without wind. Then people will stop me when I walk on the beach and point out to me their delight at what they have just seen.

Beach walking is so much more humane than automobile driving. Imagine if drivers would stop to point out to others what they see along the road. No one would get any driving done, but what a pleasant change of habit might evolve from such practice. What the mass media sees and wants to point out to others in this season is more and more of politics. I recall when the race for President of the US (POTUS), just did not carry on for as long as it does now. A few debates, a headline or two now and then, a vote, and then more of the same old type of government that seems aloof of the needs of the people. I have to point out to people, but fortunately not when I am walking my favorite stretch of beach, that I have heard so much politicking that it has nearly lost any meaning for me. What was once a sort of seasonal event that might flare up near the end with a bit of drama and emotion, mixed with hope and promise, is now a long drawn-out affair with no beginning or end in sight.

My interests just become so dulled by all this discussion, this back-and-forth volleying of criticism by candidates trying to make a name for themselves. Between this obsession and the one for professional sporting contests, most of those around me have become fixated, and seem to take pride in being polarized or split apart from their neighbors and fellow citizens. When walking the beach today I heard no one argue whether they preferred to watch the able-footed shore birds skirting in and out of the piles of sea foam washing onshore, or the dolphins surfacing and frolicking in merry groups as if sailors carrying home sacks of treasure. I actually like to watch both, but the shore birds are more abundant and easier to study, so I would vote for them, while dolphins can become vice presidents.

On the horizon today I could see what looked like a marine layer or storm front waiting for some pressurized push to bring it on in to us. The air will change. The change will be quite discernible by all. It may not be what everybody wants, but what everybody needs, this productive change from dry to wet that will display the fecundity of our planet with dramatic effect. I feel lucky to have seen so much of the sun during the season when it is usually scarce. What little bit of reddening glow I might have picked up on my face when sitting an hour or two on an upturned hunk of driftwood, will have to last me for quite some time. I sense that Junuary has nearly come to the end of its race.


When reading a snippet of Amiel today he discussed the wonder of looking through field glasses, and how gratifying it is for him to see sharper and further than the average human vision can perceive without them. I should make a note to pack my binoculars when walking the beach. There is so much more that I am not seeing, albeit perhaps the story of my whole life. My camera, when I pack it along allows me to focus more intently on what is commonly in front of all of us, as I jiggle around with it looking for the best composition, but with binoculars, so much of what looks like a common view of the sea might intensify with new sightings of life. Last week when walking I could barely make out whales swimming south for their winter vacation, but with binoculars I might have better seen and understood them as individuals, hurrying with their urgent mission of birthing a new generation. What else I miss when I am not looking among the living, but rather looking at the life that someone else has chosen to videotape for me, as a means of pandering for my paid attention.

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