Ridiculously Beautiful Beach

This morning I awoke before dawn, drank dandelion leaf tea, and scrambled two fertile eggs; put on my wetsuit (there’s a warm-up exercise); packed food, tea, and water; grabbed the purple bag with the hot pink beach towel, goggles, gloves, hood, and earplugs; tied on my purple Timberlands; snapped up the yellow windbreaker; and locked the door behind me.

Squeegee’d the dew from the car windshields; fed Shadow pieces of carrot; chit-chatted with an equestrienne heading out for a beach ride with Jetson; mixed Cisko’s pellets, vitamins, and psyllium; and trudged out to give it to him.

“Hold your horses!” I said. He was banging the pipe fence with his hoof — I was late, Cisko-wise, though the sun was barely over the ridge in the east.

Drove away from the Ranch. Did not stop for gas but did check my PO box. Work mail.

A big-ass white pick-up tailed me north along South Bay Boulevard and turned onto the freeway behind me — gunned it as soon as he could get around me. I, a former speed-freak, was keeping to the speed limit.

The half moon was high in the sky, and sunlight gilded the hills. The air was brisk and out of the north, and I smelled a bit of woodsmoke mixed with hay.

Eighteen miles later, I pulled into a turn-out on the west side of Highway 1.
Estero Bluffs State Park. Not another car was parked at the trailhead.

The path is firm and flat along the bluffs, until you veer north toward a sandy beach. I hiked along the shore to the north end of the cove, and found a spot in the sun, out of the wind. Put on my swim-gear (wouldn’t booties be nice), and walked into the ocean. The tide was going out, but not quickly. This stretch of ocean is relatively sheltered from strong currents.

A surfer! What?! Walking along the shore toward me. One of the reasons I like this ridiculously beautiful beach is that the waves are usually small — good for swimming, bad for surfing.

He seemed, like me, less than thrilled to find another human here at this hour. I veered into deeper water so we didn’t have to say hello.

(By now you’ve probably realized that I’m a tad anti-social at times. Humans tire me, and I was already weary from a week of work.)

Today I want to practice alternate side breathing: stroke stroke breathe, stroke stroke breathe. Last week, swimming at this same gorgeous beach, I’d tweaked my neck by breathing only to the right the entire time.

Success! But I ran out of sheltered water before I ran out of swim-energy. So I walked down the beach so I could swim away from the sun. Passed the big piece of driftwood. No sign of the surfer. I entered the ocean again.

Kelpy. And bigger waves where the sea curves in. And weird currents, I suddenly remembered. And sometimes seals.

“It’s breeding season,” said Pam last week. “Watch out, you in your wetsuit.”

About my suit: it’s black and gray with white stripes on a calf and arm, with a white collar and white inserts at the waist. Very cute. Last month, at a different beach, several swimmers asked if this was an “anti-shark suit.” Apparently it looks like something an Australian guy designed to deter sharks. “To a shark,” said one swimmer, “you look like an octopus, not a seal.”

Hunh. I’m all for repelling sharks, but I wouldn’t go so far as to guess what they think when they see me. I just hope they don’t see ‘Food.’

I swam a bit farther, a bit farther, a bit farther — until a huge piece of seaweed freaks me out. I have a pact with myself now, after years of over-adrenalization, that if I am scared, I stop what I’m doing and take my body to safety. This is new behavior for me.

I get out and catch my breath. Enough swimming for today.

I walk back to the sunny spot with my dry clothes and warm jacket; scarf a banana; change out of my swim gear; eat a pear.

Good timing: here comes a barefoot man, following the trail the surfer had taken, just north of my spot.

“Swimming?” he asked, “just … swimming?”

I nodded. He seemed to find it hard to believe.

Me too. But there you have it.

Ridiculously Beautiful Beach, California, photo by Elizabeth Shé
Ridiculously Beautiful Beach, California, photo by Elizabeth Shé

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