Beach Study

The morning began enshrouded in fog, but by noon the gray had pulled back several miles off shore. I dressed to be warm, putting on my heavy, hood sweatshirt, and walked from Peery Park to the end of the Capitola Wharf via Shadow Brook, and returned along Riverview Drive. I’ve walked this stretch of Soquel Creek many times, in all seasons, and enjoy watching for what is new or different in this riparian habitat. The most notable is how low the creek is this winter, barely a trickle, since the unusually warm season has shed little moisture. Fishermen were lined up on the end of the wharf, casting their baited hooks into the sea of kelp that pervades these shores. They must come here with their boxes of tackle to drink in a big dose of the salty air, because I seldom see them pull anything worth eating. I have become accustomed to eating some Japanese seaweed in the last few months, but I have not seen these fishermen tuck any sea weed into their keeper pail.

A sit out on the warm sand in the early afternoon with my Kindle, reading some of Roman philosopher Cicero and his opinions on the history of Roman and Greek philosophy. I have seen Cicero’s name associated with famous quotes for so many years, and always thought them quite wise for a man living so long ago, that I just decided to read some of his work, to get a sense of the flow of his written word, and maybe even garner a nugget of his wisdom. Not many people sat on the beach today, nor walked on it. I mostly had a mile or more of it all to myself, except for a few squawking shore birds, running in and out of the surf.


A boogie boarder jumped into his wet suit, put on flippers, and kicked his way out to the closest surf line, but quickly had to give up because of the forcefulness of the waves constantly pushing him back on to the beach. Somehow, the effort he put into trying to get himself correctly positioned reminded me of Cicero critiquing the errors and foolishness of early Greek thinkers, who were trying to understand the nature of God by creating theories and far-reaching accounts of what constitutes divinity. I see the struggle against nature in both the physical and in the spiritual realms.

The morning fog that had rolled back to reveal the pretty sea in the late morning, began to reverse direction in the early afternoon. I put on more layers of clothing so I could sit on the beach and read more of Cicero, but a wind, a northwesterly, began to turn my page-turning fingers blue. I drove home through one of the hilly neighborhoods above my house, just to see the view from above. What early spring-like colors have begun bursting in the trees this week. Acacias have rapidly gone yellow, but the more beautiful pink cherry and plum blossoms now decorate these hills. I hope we have no more heavy frosts to kill what is now trying to grow. But mid-February is so often a transition between lazy California winter days of sun that suddenly become traded for surprising Arctic blasts that I quite expect to see frosted blossoms within a week.

I hope for fair weather though, as I plan an expedition north or south along the coast a few days from now, a beach study of longer duration than I had today. Time out of office buildings is so much more restful when accompanied with full sun. I want to view the season’s first wild dose of flowers bespeckle the grassy hills between here and the Oregon border, where the redwoods end and the rocky steep headlands begin.

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