burning through the day

Burning Through the DayCrepuscular Rays @ Twilight On Limantour Beach

Surprised with a sudden Friday off, I sleep in and read until early afternoon amid birdsong. I practice my waking meditation with a chorus of crows joining my dojo. Their shadows crisscross the late morning light winking through the window. Later I go outside to sit in the hot-tub and melt into warmth, drink the world in. Eight turkey vultures swirl and pirouette slowly upon air currents above my head. They demonstrate that no effort is necessary to participate fully in the present moment, as not a single wing flap in the half hour that I bask in the sun beneath them. They ride motionless except for the occasional tweak of end feathers for directional flow. The chEEer-chEEer-chEEer of the resident osprey, tending her nest on the hillside to the north, explains simply how we need to be in each moment, each breath. A community of crows call and coast silently around me, observant, calculating, calm – fascinating models of industry as they gather food to feast or strategize, calling from tree to tree. Steam rises off the surface of water, drifting across the wall of blackberry bushes shooting out new growth after winter rains. Juncos and sparrows flit back and forth to birdfeeders suspended from tree branches nearby. A pair of hummingbirds spar for the rights to the sugar water hanging along the roofline by the deck. The buzz of their wings a few feet away as they whir and stop to perch on arching blackberry vines. As I walk inside, I stop to watch dust motes and tiny insects floating in sunlight underlined by gossamer threads arced gently on the breeze, a testimony to the majestic architecture of the world. It is nearly sunset when I pull on a sweater and pants and go upstairs for dinner. I revel in the sweet nothingness of burning through the day with free time to notice the wonders all around.


CaveArchBeach3Arch Formations Along Limantour Beach

I’ve gotten very good at reaching for what I want. I had to learn that. Through religious school formation – that we should never ask for more (we should be grateful for what we have) I started out dreaming pretty small. This concept that we should not ask for what we want and be grateful for whatever we have keeps our sights in perpetual blinders. A few things along the way taught me to change that thinking and widen my view. My big sister Wendy taught by example that sometimes breaking the rules broke you out of a life of limitations. She lives a half world away still traveling through that big adventure. My best friends Sue in sixth grade and then Lisa in college, taught me to be a little outrageous and seek a more perverted life – the wayward adventure-seeking kind. They remind me of that gift on a regular basis, directing me to coursework in Thoughts Become Things and SWA that make desires the foundation of a life well lived. In the midst of my biggest life shift, I read Gail Sheehy’s classic, Passages, to better understand that change could be empowering. My husband, Greg, evidenced in every beautiful spot we’ve visited his wish that “we should buy a place” here – somewhere in a beautiful surround of nature. And now we live out his dream, for real. Simply because he wanted it. He dared to wish for it, asked for it out loud, on a regular basis. The morning of this hike, I just showed up, no ticket, no reservation, just faith in getting to see the cave on the front cover of a newspaper I’d seen (and $60 cash in hand for the tour fee). I am grateful now to live from a place that walks into the adventure, knowing that the passage will provide. The entry will be found, the path discovered, and the journey,…exquisite.

the positives of negative tides

CaveVertical2The Secret Cave of Limantour Beach

Driving back to the bay area last Sunday I was transfixed by a fisheye photograph on the cover of The Point Reyes Light. The radial composition framed a fisheye view of a cave with a guide standing dwarfed in the tiny passageway at the base with a gaping hole of sky above. I read the date. It was scheduled in three days. I checked my calendar and went online to the Point Reyes National Seashore Association to buy a ticket but was foiled as they were listed: SOLD OUT. At the bottom I clicked the waitlist and added my name. The next day I texted a friend who might be able to sub for my class and made plans to go, even though I didn’t have a ticket. I drove back up to Inverness before the sunrise Wednesday morning, packed my camera gear, stopped at Perry’s Deli in Inverness Park and shoved lunch and desserts from the Bovine Bakery into my backpack, layered up as the guide instructions stated, and met the group in the Limantour Beach parking lot with a smile and sixty dollars cash. They wrote a nametag and let me join the group. I popped a few ibuprofen in my mouth to offset any pain from my reconstructed leg, and set off down the beach, south toward the cliffs. The trip had been planned and cancelled twice before due to winter storms, but this third time was the charm. Blue sky and warm sun had us peeling layers. Miles later, around a few jagged rock formations and tidepools, Frank Binney lead us to the promised secret cave. For most of the walk, Frank carried a 6-foot ladder strapped to his back for us to get down the tricky parts, explaining the geology of arch and cave formation and collapse, guiding us with humor, kindness, and expertise. I credit newspapers, compelling photography, and a willingness to just show up with one of the most perfect days of my life. Most of what we explored would be underwater and impassible with ocean surge. A trek to the secret caves made possible by the negative tide and persistence to be a part of the adventure.




then comes the rainbow

1_RainsTomBay_Rainbow.jpgRainbow In The Distance Across Elephant Mountain

On the drive up to South Beach to see the gale force winds, we pass Chicken Ranch Beach along Tomales Bay. A local favorite, it is sheltered and calm with the staunch backs of the Point Reyes Peninsula Mountains in a protective huddle from south to north. As we pass its edge as sun is setting I call to Greg to pull over. I want to see the bounced light on Elephant Mountain, the landmark on the eastern side of the bay, its cloud formations often plumped pink from the rays of the setting sun directly across the horizon. It’s been raining on and off all day. We stop at the perfect moment as a fat band of rainbow rises along the right flank of the terra folds of elephant. It is clear in the far right of the photo, the elegant curlicue of overflow from the sandbar directing the eye up and to the right in soft yellow and lavender hues of inter-rain clouds parting to light the distance of fading day. The rainbow colors up in its fat glow for a few brief minutes as we are gifted with sweet timing, always a good omen for a gale force day.

gale force days

1_RainsWavesHigh Point On South Beach

I wake on a gray Sunday in February with the glow of Greg’s cellphone illuminating his smiling face beside me. In true geekdom he inquires, “There are hurricane winds on South Beach today, 60 mph. Do you wanna go and check it out?” I laugh and take his phone and study the fascinating weather app he’s recently downloaded. The spinning weather cups above a table of wind speeds at various hours of the day note that wind speeds die down a bit later in the day. I negotiate, “How about we drive up around 4pm when the winds are 40 mph?” He replies, “Gale force,… that would be good too.” Spoken like the good student studying for his Skipper’s license. Gale force it is. We arrive a little too late to see the slow color of clouds at sunset, catching the last blast of color on the horizon. The waves are wild, crashing and foaming in multiple directions at once. As I look down at my viewfinder one swiftly streams up and over my knee-high water boots soundly soaking my wool socks. I slosh up to higher ground and get a wonderful series of waves colliding at my feet from both directions. I photograph the waves while he photographs me getting soaked. It has been an amazing California winter with 13 major storms so far. Typically we get an average of 5 “atmospheric river” storms. Hydrologist Michael Dettinger and UC Berkeley professor Lynn Ingram explain that, “atmospheric rivers are long streams of water vapor that form at about one mile up in the atmosphere. They are only 250 miles across but extend for thousands of miles—sometimes across an entire ocean basin such as the Pacific. These conveyor belts of vapor carry as much water as 10 to 15 Mississippi Rivers from the tropics and across the middle latitudes.” Standing on a small curved ridge above roiling waves I am in awe of the majesty and magnitude of water on and around this planet. After reading about 10-times the Mississippi River in moisture I am astounded and waiting for more.