• Otter Views: T-shirts in the Fog

    by Tom Stevens

    DSCN3601-1If the weekend’s equinox was a preview of coming attractions, then this should be a bountiful and benevolent autumn. An orange full moon rose like a Chinese lantern; the season’s first surf rolled in; sunshine and fog played footsie along the coast. It even rained some.

    The venerable Monterey Jazz Festival notched another successful year, presenting an amazing talent lineup and filling the peninsula with technicolor aloha shirts and little straw fedoras. Some fretted about falling attendance, but ticket fees rivaling major appliance prices should counteract that.

    Local football fans enjoyed a happier outcome with the upset-minded PG Breakers than the upset-prone San Francisco 49ers. Old, injured, and beset by DUI arrests, the Niners may join baseball’s hapless Giants in the losing column this year.

    But hope is equinoctial. Even as the Giants’ sun sank in the west, the gritty Oakland A’s rose in the East (Bay) to clinch another playoff berth. Out on the bay itself, the putative “American” boat in the America’s Cup ran several consecutive wins up the yardarm to narrow its gap with New Zealand. On some Lanai lanai, “Oracle” owner Larry Ellison could finally smile.

    DSCN3563-1Also smiling, or awaiting smiles, were Carmel Valley pumpkins piled up like Civil War cannonballs at Earthbound Farms. The pumpkins and other exotic gourds dazzled Saturday shoppers at the farm’s inaugural fall antique sale. A current TV ad shows a wife and a football fan competing for the husband’s attention. “No, he’s going antiquing with me!” the wife insists. If the Niners’ losing streak lengthens, regional antique sales should benefit.

    Many of those not antiquing, be-bopping or watching football over the weekend headed for the coast. On Sunday, I took a seaside walk to see what they were up to. My outing started with a glimpse of fogbound surfers awaiting sets at Point Pinos. The atmospherics added an element of surprise as ghostly surfers streaking across invisible waves suddenly became visible as they neared shore. It was like seeing a yogi manifest candy from the air.

    Across the street at the PG municipal links, golfers who could outhit the visibility had trouble tracking their drives. Luckily, lost balls were easily replaced from the trove exposed by shrinking water hazards. At one dry pond, curious ducks and marsh birds shared the cracked mud with hundreds of lost golf balls. You could almost sense the consternation. Should we sit on those? Will they hatch?

    Uphill at the driving range, the fog proved a blessing. One golfer happily sent dozens of wedge shots lofting into the mist without having to worry about where they landed, unless someone cried out. Like the other golfers I saw, he wore shorts and a t-shirt. Sunday’s was a warm, dry, tropical fog.

    DSCN3588The marine layer finally retreated at Asilomar, revealing a beach full of families and a bay full of surfers. Lines of toddlers busily toting water buckets up the sand made me wonder if fire had broken out. Meanwhile, dogs of various sizes and pedigrees sniffed happily at great buffaloes of tangled kelp. The cats were all at home, preening in windowsills, delighted to have the day to themselves.

    My favorite Sunday scenes played out amid the smooth white sand and foamy surf of an unnamed beach near Bird Rock. There an enterprising little girl created what I can only surmise was a kelp and seaweed art form. Tipping her spout carefully, she watered two seagull feathers inserted at key positions in the work.

    DSCN3590Not far away, two young brothers in ball caps crouched expectantly on a boulder, waiting patiently for the sea to rush up and surround them. When it finally got there, they studied the swirling, sparkly water with the concentration of Antwerp diamond merchants. I’m guessing they’re not from around here.

    Out in the surf, a husky boy and his plucky parents braved the 58 degree combers without benefit of wet suits. Alternately laughing, splashing, shouting and submerging, the trio employed a battery of flotation toys in a prolonged bid to ride the waves.

    The favorite was a big plastic orca the mother had bought that morning at Safeway. With its smiling face and big blue eyes, this inflatable cetacean looked adorable but proved as ornery as a rodeo bull. After watching the orca repeatedly toss the boy and his father into churning whitewater, the mom squeezed her head and shoulders into a plastic inner tube and worked it down around her hips. Thus buoyed and stabilized, she rode the whale flawlessly into shore.

    DSCN3566By the time I headed back to PG, the sun was blazing in a clear blue sky, and the fog had retreated to wherever it goes. Pelicans formed long Vs overhead, and that little girl kept watering those feathers.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on September 26, 2013

    Topics: Otter Views

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    This is the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card for Monterey Peninsula beaches, which reports water quality grades, or when relevant, weather advisories. An A to F grade is assigned based on the health risks of swimming or surfing at that location. Look at the "dry" grade for all days except those "wet" days during and within 3 days after a rainstorm. Click here for more information on the Beach Report Card. Click the name of the beach when it pops up for more details, or choose a beach below.

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