25 April 2008

A fool on a hill

Today I have an aerial view of the mouth of Redwood Creek that didn’t exist on my last walk here two weeks ago. I’m sitting on an sliding escarpment of sand, first built up, then sharply carved by the past two months of winter rain and shifting ocean currents. On this same point of beach, where I once walked at the same level as the waves, I’m perched on the edge of an eroding precipice 25 feet above the westward bending creek.

The creek has two mouths today: the main channel rippling its way to the right and flushing into the open ocean, and a smaller, shallower channel trickling off the corner of the main channel, a tiny backwater passage that won’t exist in a few hours when its fresh banks are overrun by the incoming tide.

I can feel imminent change foreshadowed in this morning’s cool northerly breeze. By this time next month, the rains will have all but ceased. The gray sands will have closed the creek’s access to the sea as the creek is drained of winter rains and melting snow, lacking the energy to break through the sandy barrier.

Gray whales crease the placid ocean just beyond the cresting waves, shepherding their newborns through the dangerous maze of coastal rocks and orcas to the Arctic.

Geese move south, resting in the calm and shallow water of the estuary, feeding on the grasses planted for California’s happy cows.

Four Caspian terns mingle with a smaller-than-usual crowd of gulls on the thin isthmus of sand that holds back the blunt force of the Pacific from the estuary. Yesterday, a coworker spied six pelicans hovering over the surf, a sure sign that summer is not too far beyond this horizon.

There are fewer seals here now than the 40-strong horde hauled out on the beach most of last month. One surfs by in the rapids of Redwood Creek, turning a slippery shoulder back in my direction as he passes, gawking at the comparably blubber-free fool on the hill.

“We’re having more fun down here in the waves,” I imagine him calling up to me. His dark eyes laugh at the lonely figure who sits on a broken log safe from chill and power of the ocean, separated in so many ways from the seal’s world, a world of which he enviously and distantly wishes to be a part.


Kym said...

Was one of your parents a selkie?

Sometimes I thought my father must of had a fish scale or two in his ancestry. He always seems most at home in his wetsuit.

Bob Flame, Ranger said...

Kym...I had to go to Wikipedia, that all-knowing source of things someone else believes to be true, to learn what a "selkie" might be. I particularly enjoyed the line there saying, "Male selkies are very handsome in their human form, and have great seduction powers over human women." So, if anyone asks, yes, I am one of those.

Ernie Branscomb said...

They say if you find a female Selkies skin and take it, she can not return to the sea as a seal, and you can own her because you control her skin. I thought that I had found a Selkie skin one time, but it smelled a lot like a dead seal and I left it alone.

It seems like a poor way to get a wife anyway, it would seem to be much more fun to have a woman that wants to stay than have to hide her skin from her to get her to stick around.