Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sun 'n Surf in Santa Barbara

FROG HOSPITAL -- Sept. 13, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
By Fred Owens

I work part-time gardening in Santa Barbara, but this time of year is always slow, so we spend more time at the beach -- we went almost every day this week. I mean, it was brutally hot. We could walk in the park and watch trees die or go to the beach.
Four years now the drought and half the rain, and the hope of El Nino in November. The sign of El Nino is the warming ocean waters, getting to 70 degrees on Santa Barbara beaches and very welcome for swimmers and surfers.
And sharks. More sharks than we've had in the past. You know the old saying  -- Sometimes you eat the shark, and sometimes the shark eats you.
I am not sentimental. I feel equally predatory and would sooner eat the shark than have it eat me. So I think we ought to hire the captain from Jaws and have him go out and hunt sharks.
There being an environmental concern, of course. Shark populations are in decline worldwide thanks to confiscatory fishing practices. Too few globally.
But locally too many sharks and they bite people. So let's arrange to have not too many sharks, not where I'm swimming.
We often go to Hendrys Beachj, about one mile from the house. Hendrys is what people call it because the Hendrys family had a homestead here long back. On the map it says Arroyo Burro Beach.
Arroyo Burro has a small creek that flows -- trickles these days -- out of the dry, dry, bone-dry, crispy-dry hillsides -- trickling into a small lagoon.
We see ducks and herons in the lagoon, and kingfishers. Lots of birds.
The water is brackish.
The lagoon is next to the parking lot which is free. God Bless America! In America, especially in California, we have a constitutional right to park at the beach for free. And we are proud in Santa Barbara to maintain that tradition of free parking.
Park the car, grab the gear -- towel, sun screen, book, ice water, snacks, umbrella, beach chair and boogie board.
Find a place on the beach to put your towel, not too close to other people, not near loud people. These days young people don't bring loud radios to the beach. They stay glued to their smart phones and go into a silent trance with ear buds roaring musical groups I've never heard of . But parking near old people reading books is still the wiser choice. Correct towel placement is the key to a successful beach outing.
Hear the sound of the surf. Magical, soothing and timeless.

Discuss the tide with your beach buddy. Is it rising or falling? Can you see the islands out there through the mist? On a very sparkling clear day you can see all four islands -- Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel.
Observe beds of seaweed and kelp washed up on the sand. Santa Barbara channel has always had an abundance of kelp, which breaks lose in stormy weather and washes up on the beach, sometimes in big piles. Not slimy, not smelly, but a bit awkward to be wading through bits of seaweed in the shallow water -- like swimming in a salad.
Count pelicans. There's two, flying low, just barely skimming the waves, rumbling like World War II bombers over the English Channel.
Sea gulls flock together but they don't seem to actually like each other, a kind of mutual disdain. They simply do not share food. Mr. Big Boss Seagull eats first as the lesser birds watch and leap in for a quick grab. No manners whatsoever.
Stilted  shorebirds are tirelessly stalking. Grabbing little pecks of grubs and snails and morsels of sea cucumbers. Very skinny birds.
Dogs chase Frisbees into the surf.  People walk along the beach in pairs, or solo, with dogs, lost in thought or lost at sea.
The beach faces south, so the sun declines to the right. The surf changes every quarter of an hour -- getting bigger, fiercer, choppier, then getting smaller, quieter, slower, smoother.
Surfers have their own magic network. They appear out of nowhere when the surf rises and they catch those waves. We make a running commentary on the surfers as we watch from the shore. Good wave there! or Oh, too bad, nice try.

I Got Mooshed.  I hope you can see this photo of me on the beach with my broken boogie board. I tried to get on this wave. It was too big, but I had this sense of exhilaration. I launched into the wave on the boogie board, then dove head first into the sand. Fortunately the board caught the sand before my head clunked, The board broke in half. A lesson in respect. The ocean is not my friend. Not my enemy, but not my friend. The wave does what it does, not what I want it to do. I can get another boogie board. I can't get another head.
Passion. Someone was telling me about their passion. "My passion is environmental restoration." Great. Now I need to have a passion. Up until now I've just been working for a living.
Explaining the War in Syria. The war in Syria was caused by the previous war which was caused by the war before that......and so on....

Presidential Looks. Presidential candidates -- how they look matters. I am planning to vote for Hillary Clinton. She looks all right to me, about halfway between Pretty and Plain...... I mean, there's lots of issues about character and substance, and those issues are far more important than looks. But looks do matter. And sometimes they work for you and sometimes they work against you. In Hillary's case, she looks just right. Anyhow, this had come up in the conversation when He Who Will Not Be Named criticized Carly Fiorina.
Surf's Up,

Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

No comments: