Saturday, March 26, 2011

Been soaring

In my next life I may need to be a pelican. I've always loved to watch them dive like arrows into the sea or skim the edge of waves as if their wingtips could brush the surface without consequence.
On my vacation this week I discovered the Dana Point Headlands, which brought the pelicans up very close and personal.
The headlands is an enormous coastal cliff that towers above Dana Point Harbor to the south and Strand Beach to the north. I've often walked at its foot and have posted pictures of the rocky beach, but I never knew there was a trail on top.
From the top, which is an ecological preserve bursting with native plants, you can see 180 degrees of blue-slate ocean and horizon. It is one of few places where you see the slight curvature of the earth due to the unbroken expanse and the height of the promontory.

This time of year, gray whales are migrating back north after spending the winter in their nursery in Mexico.

I saw a mother and baby! Mostly, I saw a bit of their backs as they surfaced. In the three visits I made to the headlands, I saw whales each time, including a nice tail flip.
Whale watching boats linger below the cliff (you can see one in this picture) and then travel up the coast from the harbor. One of the boats was surrounded by dozens of porpoises, popping out of the water like flying fish.
This year, I remembered to bring my binoculars, which are necessary if you want to see much.

* *

The pelicans kept astounding me, too, appearing silently from below the cliff.
Not at all silent was a mockingbird who sang every song known to bird--chit-chit-chit, neider-neider, tweet, chirrup, chirrup, chip, twee-twee, wrrrrrr, cherree, pip, pip, pip. Or some such language. I was there for hours, and he rarely stopped.

The bush sunflowers were all in bloom, and the air was filled with the sharp tangy scent coming from a bluish bush and the sweet butterscotch aroma given off by California everlasting.
Between the fresh sea breeze and the heady aroma from the plants, I couldn't get enough deep breaths. It was intoxicating.

There was the continuous rush and rumble of waves against cliffs, a far-off fog horn and the querulous bark of sea lions who sunned on a buoy. I felt transported to a simpler time and place.

Later, I was back in San Clemente for sunset.

The wind was cold and howling across the sea, causing a string of little girls holding hands to skitter down the wood-plank pier shrieking.

I walked to the end where the water spreads out for unfathomable distance, and all the world is reduced to sea and sky. (And, of course, other people taking pictures who I included, because everyone knows that shots are better with people in them.)


I leave you with an ocean enameled by sunset and a few hardy surfers waiting to catch the last wave of the day.
I did work some on my fairy tale, mostly brainstorming ideas and came up with some I'm excited about. Two crit groups this week. Can't wait.


Maria Cisneros Toth Blog said...

Wow... what gorgeous pics! So serene. I can almost feel the sea breeze and hear the mockingbird sing his songs. I had wondered what had happened to our mockingbird since he'd become silent this week. No wonder, he's down at the seashore enjoying Spring break! Are you sure that was a whale tail flipping out of the ocean? I'm leaning toward mermaid. Looking foward to your new chapter! See you Tuesday!

Wen Baragrey said...

Ah, I love reading your descriptions of the ocean. When I read your writing, it's like being there. Wonderful :D

Donna said...

Sounds like a dreamy week at ocean's edge. Just right for the muses as well. Happy writing.

LynNerdKelley said...

I love these photos, Tricia, but even more, I love your descriptions. I agree with Wen, I felt like I was there with you. You have such a beautiful way of expressing yourself. I'd love to see pelicans in flight. That would be awesome!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

oooh! I love this. You put me right there with you enjoying the pelicans! I've seen them do that when I went to Myrtle Beach! But whales are still on my list of sights to see.
Lovely post. Thank you. Good luck on your wip.

Bish Denham said...

Fabulous photos! Pelicans are so neat! What gets me is that the brown ones in the Caribbean nest in trees. One would think they'd nest on rocks, what with those large awkward webbed feet. But noooooo. It's so funny to see them in the spindliest of trees, swaying in the breeze.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Maria: You're so funny, that mockingbird was having a serious spring fling. :) And maybe the mermaids aren't done with me, yet!

Wen: I love bringing you along with me. Actually, I wish I REALLY could. Hope all is going well in your part of the world.

Donna: I like your new photo! It was a dreamy week.

Lynn: Thanks for such words! Pelicans entrance me. If you've not seen them, you must. For birds that can look ungainly on ground, they are gorgeous in flight.

TerryLynn: This time I actually saw one pelican open his beak, so that his pouch appeared for the briefest moment in flight. I think he hadn't swallowed completely. Nature always surprises and restores me.

Bish: Wow, that is so cool. I haven't seen where the pelicans nest here but imagine it's on rocks. However, once I saw ducks in trees and couldn't believe my eyes.

Liza said...

Stunning. Your last picture looks like a water color...and gosh, I wish I was there during your beautiful day.

Julie Dao said...

I smell summer when I read this post - beautiful! I haven't seen the ocean in much too long and I can't wait for the weather to get warmer so I can bird-watch too. No pelicans near me though... just noisy seagulls!

Golden Eagle said...

I love the way you described it. :) It sounds like a wonderful place!

Beautiful pictures!

J.B. Chicoine said...

Oh, my! Tricia! Thank you so much for the excursion! I look out my window and see inches of new snow and I long for the view you have provided--you always capture the essence of wild beauty...:)

Char said...

what a beautiful day!!! love the shots, especially the sunset.

good luck with the critiques this week.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Liza: Ooo, I like that it looks like a watercolor. I used to play around with watercolor and had a lot of fun with it.

Julie: For SoCal, it was cold this last week with three rainstorms. But there were these breaks between, and when the sun came out it was awesomely warm and wonderful.

GoldenEagle: Thanks! It is an amazing place. I'm so glad I found it.

Bridget: Ooo, now you sent me soaring by saying I caught the essence of wild beauty. It is what I long to do, so I feel really gratified by this.

Char: Thank you times two!

Stephanie Thornton said...

You be a pelican and I'll be a bald eagle- there was one of them soaring over my house today. I had a woodpecker at my birdfeeder too- I love those!

Davin Malasarn said...

Pelicans are such bizarre and majestic birds. It seems like the closer you get to one that more spectacular it seems.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Stephanie: Ha! Sounds good. If I were chosing I might actually be a hawk, but this week was all about pelicans.

Domey: They fascinate me. I was entranced by the beauty of their feathers in flight this time, because I was so close, so often, as they crested the cliff face.

MG Higgins said...

Oh, what a lovely day. I feel like I was right there with you, hearing that chatty mockingbird and smelling those heady scents.

Unknown said...

What an amazing experience! The pictures are so lovely!

rilla jaggia said...

I love pelicans! What beautiful mood scenes you've posted.
I got to see my first ever white pelicans winging low over the Salton Sea. Beautiful as a fairy tale. Loved hearing yours yesterday.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mel: Oh, how I wish you were right there with me, for it was lovely, indeed. :)

Hi, Nisa! Thank you.

Rilla: I used to see white pelicans around Lake Elsinore. Apparently, a century ago many more of them migrated to lakes in SoCal. They are beautiful.
And I loved hearing your wonderful tale yesterday, too!

Faith Pray said...

I've heard that whale moments can be monumental. Glad to hear you had some growing moments on your work, too! Lovely pics!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Faith: The whale moment would've been more monumental had I been closer, but it was still a thrill to be there. I get so much out of being in nature--never fails me.

Jo Schaffer said...

I miss the beach. Is summer here yet? said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful vacation! Thank you for sharing it with us! And you got some work done too! It sounds like a very successful trip.

Phoenix said...

Beautiful pictures, Tricia! I have missed the ocean so much during these cold months and I am ready to get some sand between my toes and salt water in my hair. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jo: Well, it sure was here in Southern California today! 97 degrees. I am so not ready for that.

Mary Anne: Hi! Nice to see you around again and thank you!

Tracy: I feel so fortunate that I get to the beach frequently for walks. It feeds my soul.