26 October 2007


03September2007, Monday, Labor Day, all afternoon:
Though I didn't get time to wander to the mouth of the creek today, what an amazing day on the beach. The fog held us close for much of the morning, slowly easing its way out to sea. Redding Rock slowly emerged from the shadows around noon, and by 1pm, the sky dazzled blue and the ocean shimmered blue below.

The first humpback whale appeared to us shortly after lunchtime, about a half mile off-shore, its shiny black body reflecting the sun as he (or maybe she) arched up and slid back down beneath the surface. For a little more than two hours, we - and all who ventured into the building - and everyone from Trinidad to Gold Bluffs - were treated to at least three separate clusters of mighty humpbacks feeding on unseen fishes off the northern California coast. Spyhopping. Towering blowhole sprays. Flukes raised and slapped down on the ocean's surface. Long arching backs, the rear dorsal cleary visible even from this far away.

As if that weren't enough, a raft of sea lions, massed together in a tight circle, flipped and cavorted up and down just beyond the surf, eating, enjoying the sun, enjoying a group coffee break from the day's adventures.

Pelicans, en masse once again, put on an air show, floating high off the surface before tucking their wings and crashing into the ocean, then emerging with pouches full of water and fish.

Two seals startled a family of five young kids who tested the running waves. Squeals from the kids competed with the squawking seagulls nearby.

Truly a glorious two hours at the beach today. A passing remembering (and gracious thanks) that you, the 'merican taxpayer, are paying me purt near $58 an hour to stand here on this federal holiday, on the beach or in the windows open to this glory. I'm paid today to watch humpbacks and sea lions stuff themselves on the Pacific's bounty; to hear waves crash and roll through the steely fog; to score the dives of brown pelicans for style and degree of difficulty; to listen to young kids squeal at seals just as curious of the kids as the kids are of them. And I have the balls to complain about this job at times?!?

Yet by 3:00, you could almost feel the fog begin its long, damp march back to shore. Mists appeared, first veiling, then shrouding Redding Rock. And then the 100' high island was gone. A steady gray wall advanced on us and by 4:30 the ocean had vanished from our nearby vantage point. In the low, shining fog, the sky and sea appear the same monochromatic silver. Waves appear suddenly, rising with a jeweled glimmer before turning over into a foamy white and running uphill to my toes.

Solitary pelicans, the occasional pair, drift spectre-like through the mist, heading perhaps to the creek's mouth a few hundred yards north of where I stand.

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