Thursday, July 28, 2005
Late afternoon, summer, Half Moon Bay.
The fog has already rolled in, by 7, bright and hot in the South Bay, but here the sky has already darkened, and the air is damp. Approaching the beach from the cliffs, the saturated green from plants growing abruptly off the sand, broken once or twice by the surprising lone yellow summer flower in a bed of verdure, looking down, the shore too far below to jump.
I make my way down the trodden path around the cliffs, descending carefully, side-stepping the sandstone formations that exactly mimic the driftwood on the beach, blackened and charred by a long-extinguished fire. As I approach the ocean, the smell, different from the one in the tropics of Mexico, which is salty, and fresh, and caresses you with the cool breeze, hits me: here it smells more like dead crab, salty, yes, but colder, more damp, more sultry, as if it hugged you and enveloped you in a blanket (ironically!), a lot more like a winter.
The sand, screeching acutely with my steps, the ocean: green tourmaline. Waves constantly changing and churning up white spray, the water frigid enough to numb the feeling in my toes and send a chill up my spine that makes my neck hairs stand on end.
I walk some more, after playing in a sand dune running up and sliding down, alone, for it is late now, 8 p.m., and it is a Wednesday, people are busy enjoying the summer elsewhere, somewhere warmer for sure, going home after work, maybe getting drinks in the city, and I......can't see another person here for miles, and I pretend I'm in a desert island, and that this island is mine, and what would I do, would I build a shack under that cave over there, and what would I hunt for dinner, and is that a crab I see under that rock, no, it is someone's old red flannel shirt that has been soaked and twisted ackwardly by the surf and it destroys the illusion.
I head back to my car, but not before sitting again alone in a piece of driftwood to (and note how muffled now is the sound of the waves!) beat the sand off the creases of my jeans, gritty briny stuff stuck in my molars and tasting on my lips. It takes so little, to turn a Wednesday into a Sunday.