Sunday, May 23, 2010

From one thing to another

A cold front blew in today (Sunday) in Southern California. Big-shouldered white clouds sometimes tangled up with soot-black ones. But I had decided last night to go to the beach. I wanted to watch the NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) at Huntington Beach. On my way there, big splats of rain hit the windshield of my little red Miata, but I kept going.
Part of this was research for my WIP, so I had to do it, even if, dang, I had to go to the beach, you know?
When I got to Huntington, it was sunny but blowing like a wind tunnel. All I got to see were the sponsor booths and the judges stand being dismantled. The event was postponed due to dangerous, choppy conditions caused by the wind. I could've been bummed, but my favorite wetlands is just up the highway from this pier. So off I went to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

The wind howled across these inlets, creating a corrugated surface to the water. Least terns wheeled above. Seagulls took off, stalled and were pushed backwards, landing in defeat. They seemed a bit pissed about it, squawking and jostling.

After an ungraceful landing in the heavy wind, a great egret stalked a marshy area. A brown pelican sat out the blustery conditions. Some tiny bird I didn't recognize spiraled out of sight.

Even tiny woolly caterpillars got blown sideways and tumbled over as they tried to cross the dirt.
More than 300 species of birds have been sighted in the 1,700 acres protected here. About 95% of California's wetlands have been destroyed by development, making this a treasure. And, believe me, it had to be fought for. It had been dammed up, leased for oil drilling and slated for development.

Despite my jacket and hair whipping, my fingers chilled, I had a fabulous time. Sometimes being in wild conditions makes me feel most alive. It was jarring and spectacular.
And then I thought of the Gulf Coast and the oil that is now covering pelicans and eggs, the dead fish washing to shore, the oyster beds destroyed. And I am sad. All the natural beauty and wonder of this planet we hold in our hands. Whatever happens is our responsibility and our legacy.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children. --Haida Indian saying.


Stephanie Thornton said...

I love that quote you ended with, but I love the fuzzy caterpillar even more. He's just so darn cute!

My husband is from Huntington Beach. Small world, eh?

Anonymous said...

Oh Tricia, I feel the same way. Whenever I'm feeling down, uninspired or just dreadful in general, getting out in nature makes all the difference. I live in the middle of wetlands here, they're all around me as well as the beach and forests. We have a huge estuary just a couple of blocks away. If you're ever in NZ I'll have to show you, I think you'd love it.

Your descriptions are magic. They make me want to go out and explore, even though it's dark and we're in the middle of a big storm! Not that I'd let the storm part stop me, like you, I think the wilder the weather, the more I love it :)

Just Wendy said...

'We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children'

What a wonderful quote.

I too feel sick about what's happening in the Gulf. Another human blunder. We have an awful lot to answer for. In my humble opinion.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

The gulf oil spill has been heavy on my mind, too. We had the exon/valdez up here and the gulf spill is looking to be a lot worse than that.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love your photos - nothing quite like nature when she's having a bit of a temper! Love that quote too :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Lovely quote, Tricia...Great post and pictures. :) It sounds like fun research.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Stephanie: That caterpillar was too cute and was really tumbling in the wind. How amazing your husband is from Huntington--and now lives in Alaska!

Wen: It sounds heavenly where you live. I would be out in all weather, too. I've always heard NZ is gorgeous and wish I could visit someday.

Wendy: We do seem a blundering species. This spill seems capable of enormous damage. There's no way of knowing what's happening underwater right now.

Paul: I know. This could be catastrophic.

Lisa K. said...

What an absolutely beautiful place. I love those kinds of wild places, too. There's an energy there.

The Gulf situation is just devastating. I'm a transcriber and recently I transcribed a press conference about it, and the entire work day my heart just broke more and more hearing about it.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Thanks, Sharon!

Hi, LisaK: I can't imagine transcribing all the detail--my heart would break, too. Thanks for commenting; I'll drop in later for a visit to your blog.

Davin Malasarn said...

Ah the power of book research to motivate us! I'm glad you went for it, even if the event ended up being postponed. The "corrugated" water is a brilliant description, by the way!

Donna said...

Too true . . . glad you had a blustery beach day sans oil.

Jo Schaffer said...

It's true. When we aren't stuck in our little air conditioned capsules all the time we are open to these awesome encounters with nature--And they do make you feel more alive. So true. (=

Jackee said...

I knew we had a lot in common... but a birder just like me? Yay!

I too cry over the loss of CA wetlands. Especially considering that with that 95% loss, CA is the nesting grounds for 75% of all waterfowl and waterbirds. So sad.

Thanks for sharing your gorgeous pictures, bird surveys are one of the things I miss the most about my old job.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Blogger is behaving very oddly. I'm getting email of postings that don't show up or come in hours later, so sorry if I miss you.

Now I see Jemi: *waves* Yes, nature can put on a show when she wants to, and we might as well enjoy the spectacle if we can!

Davin: I'm glad I went, too. It was a refreshing, empowering sort of day even if it didn't go as planned. And although we can get so much research done online these days, there's nothing like "live."
Thanks for liking the "corrugated." That word came to me as I was fighting the wind and seemed just right.

Donna: Oh, I couldn't have stood any oil. No. Much to sad.

Jojomama: Ha! Yes, there is a real world beyond our buildings and cars. :D

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jackee: I am an exceedingly amateur birder, whereas I know you are highly trained. But I do love to watch for birds and figure out what they are. I got a huge thrill when I unexpectedly saw a bald eagle dive into a Southern California lake for a fish. For a moment, I stood rooted in awe and then I was saying to anyone around, 'That was an eagle, that was an eagle!' Yeah, my heart is in it.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

very well said with being alive. I also love being in wild weather. The oil spill makes me ill when I think about it. I have no words.

Tere Kirkland said...

Pat, I always love your posts and pics, but today's made me a little sad. Do you believe we can SMELL the oil in the gulf some days?

It's a subject that gets me so worked up, I still haven't been able to write a coherent blog post about it.

I've been trying to gently correct people, though, that this isn't a spill (which implies an accident that can be cleaned up), it's a LEAK. A leak that's still spewing out thousands of gallons a day.

I'm not sure if our wetlands will ever be the same.

Thanks for this post.

Jean Michelle Miernik said...

There is truly nothing more inspiring than nature, and nothing more dramatic than a storm or an environmental tragedy. I love your description.

Angela Ackerman said...

The gulf oil spill is so very scary. It's almost incomprehensible how large the enviro toll will be. All that I can hope is that everything that can be done is being done.

Beutiful pics of your beach. That's the kind of book research that we always make time for. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Liza said...

Wish I could be there. Lovely Tricia.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

TerryLynn: You're weather gets a whole lot wilder than mine, but I know you're out in it and loving it!

Tere: I can't imagine being there in a front row seat for this disaster. The smell of oil never is good, but must be worse knowing what it means. It is horrifying to think what the results are going to be. My heart hurts.

Thanks, Genie. I'm pretty much a nature gal.

Angela: No matter what they do the toll will be devastating, I'm afraid.
Yes, I can't complain about the research. I'll just have to find another surf contest, right?

Liza: Wish you could, too. Thanks. :)

Mary E Campbell said...

Love the detail in this post. Your writing makes me feel like I'm right there with you. Great quote about borrowing the earth.

Marcia said...

Wonderful pictures and fine writing. I had to smile in the beginning because I'm headed to the beach soon for WIP research also.

Natalie said...

That sounds absolutely lovely. It is sad though to see such a perfect beach and then think of what the Gulf beaches will look like soon.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mary: Glad to take you along with me anytime. ;)

Marcia: Hi and welcome. I hope you have a great time at your beach!

Natalie: I know. I think that's why it hit me that way. I was soaking up all the beauty and then pictured the Gulf.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Gorgeous photos, Tricia - as always. I especially love the wooly caterpillar! Great quote, too. :-)

storyqueen said...

Close to my heart (and home!) My daughter Cali is working on a project with her friends about our ocean situation for their fifth-year exhibition project.

It is nice to see kids being called to action. Perhaps they will be better guardians....

* said...

Love this post, the wooly caterpillars, and the Indian quote at the end.

Are we good stewards of this green earth, or users/abusers of it? A question we would do well to ask ourselves daily, I think.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shannon: Thank you, and I loved those cute caterpillars, too.

Shelley: It is pretty sad to see the damage humans have done up to this point. I'm encouraged to know the kids are working on it!

Terresa: Thank you and, yeah, we have some answering to do.

Barrie said...

This looks like the perfect place for a summertime field trip with my kids! I think it was windier where you are than down here in San Diego.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Barrie: You would love it. There's a long walking trail and bridges over the marshes. Two entrances: one along PCH is at the marshy end and the other at Warner has an interpretive center and starts on the mesa.