Coming down my hill from out of the forest into the village below at dawn I see a frosting of roof tops all along the road. Homes under the canopy of the redwood trees have no frost, but those exposed to the overhead sky all receive a uniformed, sparkly white coat. One week deep into April I should no longer see frost. I hope this is not the beginning of a new trend in nature, to extend winter into spring, although much of this past winter felt more like spring because of so much warm sun. Sometimes when the seasons advance they might fall backward for a time, until the tilt of earth prompts them to move onward. I expect a few more cold clear nights before the season of fog comes, but no further frostiness. Weather has often been such a master of disappointment for me.

I see Easter week sun worshipers pour into town. How I forget that Santa Cruz is a tourist destination for much of the year. People come for a retreat from dreary, big-city living, from flat and often uninspiring central valley farm towns. They come to marvel over the vastness of the sea and to lolly gag along the narrow strip of sandy beach that circumnavigates the Monterey Bay. Some like me get enough of a taste of the salty air that they never want to leave and figure out a way to settle in and become part of this community, become more intimate with the ways of the sea. As a teenager I could only think of living near the sea and the redwoods. Any other life seemed inauthentic. To see others come and enjoy themselves here reminds me of my thoughts and feelings from earlier days.

I go to the same beaches I did fifty years ago. Sometimes I think I’m stuck in time because I haven’t moved on, but here is where I have found some life for myself and family. For others coming on a short visit, the views that the bay affords must be startlingly different and inspirational. People tell me coming to this beach town is an annual pilgrimage, a tradition they have observed for many years. I’m here every day and seldom take this climate and scenery for granted. My love of surfing first made me a regular visitor to the rocky reefs that dot the coast. I saw retirees migrating here to find peace and enjoy living. I knew that living near the sea would give me some of that joy. It has shaped how I see life.

The people educating me in my younger days seemed to want to tell me how to live my life. I felt as though I were being groomed to live a life that would cause me to blend into a system, rather than one that would allow me the pursuit of happiness. My way of rebelling against the system was to move to the sea and become more familiar with that larger and more natural system and find some harmony with it rather than the man-made one that I felt being forced upon me. In retrospect, the education I received in my young days was not too bad. I see now that society needs togetherness in order to work smoothly, so my great sense of indignation has diminished, but only because my youthful rebellion led me to this place of great beauty.

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