Encountering nature

It started with the deer. Trotting down the middle of the road in Pacific Grove. In the middle of the afternoon. Headed straight for my car. I stopped, hoping that the deer would change direction to avoid a head-on with me. The deer didn’t look stunned or shocked. Or have that deer-in-the-headlights look. Just out for a leisurely afternoon jog.

The deer changed course to avoid me. Disaster averted.

Next were the spouts of water just off the coast. Could it be? I stopped. Paused. Waited. There they were again. And then a whale breached the water. And I clapped my hands in delight. “Do it again!” Spouts of water from blowholes appeared randomly from different points along the coast. Three, four, five whales feeding offshore. A frenzy of birds circling overhead.

Pelicans glided above me as well as rested with the gulls by the water’s edge. Scattering as I strolled up the beach past where they sat. Ungainly waddling, the pelicans hopped, hopped. Flapped, flapped. And took off. To my disappointment.

A head popped out of the waves. Looked around and disappeared. Only to briefly reappear. Then the harbor seal was gone again. Silent in its arrival. Silent in its departure.

Crack. The air pockets in the kelp on the beach snapped beneath my feet. Delighted as a little kid, I pounced on different ones in my path. Some yielded to my weight. Others obliged me with the sharp sound of pops.

The waves of small bright green kelp on the beach whispered of wakame salad. My stomach grumbled. Perfectly composed skeletons of sand dollars poked out of the sand here and there.

Eventually, accompanied by scores of others, I sat and watched the sun kiss the horizon, quickly swallowed up by the water. With its total disappearance, I turned to leave, as did the others watching. The sun has set on my California time. I turned to the East where a new sun, a new chapter awaits me.


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