Carpinteria California #4

What a week. It stopped raining here in California and turned into paradise. On the home front as cousin Paul says ?the entire lower floor is on the first floor.? Everything is chaos and confusion. Since I?ve never made an insurance claim before, I?m not quite sure how things are supposed to work. But probably not the way they are going at my house. Enough though.

If the flood hadn?t happened this would be one of our very best trips ever. Our apt is so filled with sun and the sound of surf that even working in the bedroom is wonderful. I do mean that in the filled with wonder sense. The light changes every minute until a real blackness descends. You can see the stars from here.

Sand is piled high into a man-made dune outside, high enough to hold back the winter storms. And we?ve seen enough to understand how important these breaks are. People sit on the top to watch the setting sun. Everyone tries to take pictures of people walking through the last rays. No clich? has been unrecorded here. It?s too gorgeous to just leave alone.

Things that amaze about this town: the shuttle bus has become our favourite mode of transportation. We now know all the drivers and wave when they go by. The unfailing kindness of people is astonishing. Cathie and Heidi who run this building so well have made everything pretty close to perfect. And since I?m having computer troubles they let me stand in the office and do my e-mailing and all the stuff that continuing to work entails.

I made it all the way to the seal rookery and had very much the same sensation as I did the first time I walked out into the desert: here is where you could start a religion, or believe in something profound and spiritual.

The sight of the seals huge with babies and the thinner mums muddling along teaching the little ones about the water with gigantic pelicans watching over them like severe nannies. The wonder of nature brings forth every clich? possible.

The seals come to a small inlet that has surf in the background, but where it?s full of good sunning rocks and is very protected. To get to this headland you walk through oil company land. Venoco is either the bane or the salvation of this part of the coast. It?s their rigs that light up the night sky and define it.

Karin and Neil our friends from San Francisco came to visit and were shocked to see them because further north they are fighting the ?Drill, baby, drill.? crowd all the way to court.

It is dramatic to see nature untrammeled beside these gross machines and all the tanks etc. that store the oil. This is not because they can live together, but because we have intruded on the seal?s habitat so utterly. Down here they have big anniversaries of the giant oil spills which have affected the coastline. Volunteers watch over the seals having their pups, just as they scavenge for junk dropped by wayward tourists.

I was alone watching a seal about to give birth (remember we?re on a cliff and they are at the edge of the ocean) when a very nice woman asked me to step back, I might be in the seal?s sight line and it would disturb her. Stupidly, this was something I hadn?t thought of,

Once many years ago when we were driving down this coast, I was walking along some rocks in a very out of the way place when I came upon a seal mother nursing her pup. I couldn?t tell how old it was but it was such a moving experience all I could do was murmur and sit and watch. It was probably the wrong thing to do. But at the time, though I didn?t know very much about seals, I did know I was extremely privileged to have been there.

Our beach as we?ve come to think of it has few people on it during the week, but on weekends everyone loves to come out for a walk bedecked with a cup of coffee, a dog and a cell phone.. One other good thing about surf: it drowns out the noise of cell phoners blithering on. What could be so important?

Yours from paradise, Marjorie