December, Santa Barbara, CA, late afternoon, low low tide.
I stand on the edge of North America gazing out at the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Other creatures such as surfers, sea gulls, ibis, ecstatic dogs, photographers and ordinary strollers are there as well. We all meet just at the edge of the continent, where sand meets surf.
It is the time of day when an ocean can turn to a frosty baby blue, almost reflecting the color of the sky, but not quite.The breaking waves show just a tinge of pink as the sun drops lower on the horizon.
Just in from the immediate shoreline is another world of its own. This scene fascinates me. Before me lie dozens of miniature worlds that could have been designed by a master landscape architect. There are miniature rivers, plateaus, islands, peninsulas, streams, and mountains. Lonely stranded anemone await the return of the tide to lift them safely under cover again. Strands of waving sea grass paint swaths of brilliant green, draping over the earthy colors of the watery landscape. The waters in the “rivers” lie still briefly, then are stirred, as the power of a wave thrusts more water forward, soon reversing itself. It’s a land of sensuous curves, with a few straight lines. It changes by the second. I am captivated.
Finally, I spot a gift wrapped in a white ribbon.
Since we were in Japan for most of November, December seemed to arrive more quickly than usual. There’s always a tinge of sadness at this time of year for me, as there is for so many of us. This year I find myself wondering how many more times I’ll get to experience the annual holiday cycle taking place in our culture. Not in a morbid way. Just curiously. The natural world can be so achingly beautiful.