The first real winter storm has carved a steep edge on to the beach south of Redwood Creek. Weekend waves sliced a ten-foot tall slope from the crest of the sand berm to the roiling white and brown ocean surf. A stiff breeze blows in from the hills to the east, bending the tops of the breakers backward. Thin streams of surf blown off the top of each wave fly back into the ocean like the wispy strands of Joe Biden's combover.
The sky is a dark gray on this early morning, broken only by wind-cleared strips of lighter gray. Over the hills, an optimistic brightness shines through the clouds, breaking through briefly, before giving way to a high monotone gray ceiling.
The breaking waves are tall and rolling steadily to shore. I try recalling the names of colors from the Crayola box - the big one with 128 colors. The ocean beyond the surf opens at a Midnight Blue before easing into a dark Jade Green as the morning progresses.
A few solitary gulls brave the breeze above the choppy surf. One seal tracks my walk down the beach, disappearing beneath the waves whene'er my eye catches his.
Redwood Creek and the Pacific are closer together than I've seen them since the sand spit closed in the early summer. Just a few yards separate the rain-swollen waters of the creek from the ocean. In fact, as I stand here, the easterly wind pushes the creek a few inches closer to the top of the sand berm. Though I've watched the mouth of this creek for several years, I've yet to witness the actual break-through of fresh water to the sea. Today looks and feels like a break-through kind of day.
The pressure of the creek on the sand bar feels ominous. All around the edges of the estuary, thick piles driftwood rafted down on the weekend's rain line the banks like anxious ticketholders at a general admission concert. All of this forest debris will be flushed into the ocean shortly, along with the salmon and steelhead fry that have incubated all summer in the warm fresh waters of the lagoon.
Last night's surf has scoured the sand clear up to the edges of the grassy dunes. Most of the game paths I usually take to connect the beach to the estuary boardwalk are flooded. The wooden walkway itself floats on the swollen waters.
The change of seasons is nigh. The creek is poised to open. Perhaps today on the next high tide. Maybe tomorrow after tonight's continuing downpour. You feel it on the breeze and in the spray of the surf. You see it in the wind-pressed waves blowing off the creek towards the Pacific. Summer's calm is ending, and the dynamic winter is set to begin on this small patch of the planet. Change we can believe in. Change that is inevitable.