Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wind and Waves

Today at sunset a strong wind blows ashore, making high surf. The newspaper says 4-6 foot in Orange County and 3 foot surf here, but the waves here dwarf people standing offshore to swim and body surf at sunset.
Pelicans like the weather, flying north along the shore in a steady stream of pairs and lone huge birds. Occasionally one torpedos into the choppy water to nab a fish.
Children run back and forth, chased by small waves.
After the sun goes down, beach patrol cars drive along the beach ordering surfers and swimmers to come in.
The moon refuses to rise, instead chasing around the bright side of the globe toward the sun.
I witness all this, and perhaps that's what we are here for: to witness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Long, Long Way

We're close to the spring equinox. The sun sets at 7 pm and rises just after 7 am (of course, it's really 6 pm and 6 am, but we're giving ourselves an extra hour of daylight in the evening.)
I arrive at sunset and start jogging southeast toward the Venice break-water, invisible in the dusk.
Instead of shuffling along as I usually do, I decide to step long and high like some other joggers I encounter, but this soon tires me.
Then I'm asking myself, "Why did you think it was such a good idea to jog all the way to that breakwater and back?" It's maybe 3/4 mile each way or less, but at the moment it seems

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why We Need The Beach

Today I'm stuck in traffic on the 10 freeway, which reminds me of how important it is to everyone in Los Angeles to get to the beach, the mountains, a garden or a park whenever possible. It's the only thing that can keep us sane.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sea Food

Sometimes after walking on the beach I stop at Santa Monica Seafood to buy fish for dinner. Live lobsters from Maine... cooked shrimp... filets of swordfish and salmon... crabs... cod and yellow trout... a wonder to gaze upon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunset, Moonrise

A magical evening at the beach as the sun sets:

Windsurfers careen up and down the coast just beyond the breaking waves.

Seagulls float lightly on the airstream flowing ashore.

Plovers skitter on the sand and foam.

The full moon rises amidst tall buildings, just above the streetlights.
All's right with the world--or so it seems from the Santa Monica Beach.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kayaks and Plovers

I'm tuned to the sunrise and sunset. Though the clocks have changed, I still get up as the sun rises and jog when it sets. Tonight it sets at 7 pm, however, instead of 6.

It's still windy but the adventuresome are out. Two people in kayaks paddle where the waves crash, occasionally riding one to shore without planning to.
Tiny plovers skitter near the waves, their bodies floating above legs that whirl like cartoon characters.
I stand close to the waves to take photos until one catches me and I'm wet to the ankles before I even start jogging. That's never happened before.
It's the Sabbath: nothing to do but play and rest.
Delight in YHWH, says Psalm 37:4, and you'll be given the desires of your heart.
What a command.
Okay, YHWH, I'm here delighting.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Dark and Stormy Night

Overnight we had wind and rain, with more cold wind today, so the beach is deserted.
I don't arrive until 6:10 pm, fifteen minutes after sunset. Stiff wind points each palm's fronds directly east.
There are no footprints anywhere, just wide stretches of pristine rippled sand.
Overhead the growing moon pulls the ocean to high tide and blots out Orion.
Venus stands lower in the western sky each evening.
I jog south to Venice in the darkness and return, thinking This is the last day it will be so dark at 7 pm.
What a relief that daylight savings time will start.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I come to the beach at sunset, eager for joy and beauty, greedy to capture it in photos, but the camera's battery is depleted.

The western sky is a thousand shades of pastel colors: blue, mauve, pink, peach, yellow. I want to carry photos home in my pocket, proudly paste them into my blog--but tonight I have taken an involuntary vow of poverty.

Does God rejoice in the changing beauty as much as I do? I wonder. Does God too want to hold onto particularly beautiful scenes, however transient? Or is every thing and every moment equally beautiful to the Creator?

I'm trying to accept my camera-less state when someone walking toward me stops and holds out a camera. "Would you mind taking my picture?"

"No, I'd be happy to," I laugh.

"Someone back there said no," she continued. "I guess she was afraid of me."

"Yeah, it's pretty scary here on this beach," I joked, taking several shots at various angles, silhouetted against the sunset sky and then with the fading light on her face.

She walked on, and so did I.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beach People

It's a warm Sunday, and the beach is full of people, even at sunset: children making sand castles or splashing in the waves, adults swimming or just gazing westward.
Santa Catalina Island stretches across the horizon to the south.
On the cement walkway by the parking lot, people on bicycles, low dune-buggy tricycles, roller blades sail past. Couples walk arm in arm, and homeless people sit on benches sizing up passersby.
On the sand near the waves, joggers pass each other wordlessly, not breaking the other's silent meditation.
We are agreed: "To bless whatever there is, and for no other reason but simply because it is, that is what we are made for as human beings." --David Steindl-Rast