Today, at last, we could visit Mama Ocean again, up close and personal. Back at the end of March all of the parking along Sonoma County’s gorgeous ocean access sites was blocked off—too many people, many of them coming from distances, crammed the sand and made virus transmission easy, so all of us paid for that for these last two months.
It’s been years now that we have come on Sundays to these shores, at first every other week, and now for a long time it’s been every week. We bring a picnic basket with our ritual food and drink, set up our little tin folding table (I have no idea why we call it the Polish Table, because we did visit Poland but couldn’t have crammed that table into our duffel bags) and our black canvas folding chairs on a bluff facing a stern array of jagged black rocks. Cormorants gather on those rocks; we call their silhouettes the Supreme Court. And then we sit for a couple of hours, nibbling and sipping and throwing scraps to the gulls and hoping to see pelicans. But mostly we’re admiring and appreciating the Mama, who decks herself in different colors every week. She knows all the secrets, and allows us to wonder what they are. Today was very windy, and she was covered with white lace ruffles for miles and miles toward the horizon.
In this interim time we had gone to the high ridge on Coleman Valley Road and pulled off to the side, a wide place in the road just after the cattle guard, and at least we could see Mama and picnic in the car. Heck, we have often had our picnic in the car down at the shore when the wind would have blown our sushi to the Farallon Islands, so the ridge was just a long-shot wide-screen Mama. But today we were back home.
Why is this so important to us? To begin with, it was me. In the twenty-plus years I had been visiting the rough coast of Bretagne in France, I let the ocean into my bone marrow. One gray drizzly day I sat far back under a rock overhang and listened to the sea I could not see, listening for two hours with a musician’s ear to the way that no wave sounded like another. The Sonoma Coast is a close kissing cousin, and once we made our home out here I dragged us to the water as often as possible. And Conrad got it. The times are many when the power and beauty have brought us both to tears.
There’s a power spot here on the coast, perhaps an intersection of ley-lines, and it feels exactly like the one at Carnac and the one in Ireland at Newgrange. I feel the buzz in the palms of my hands. In these times, if Mama is going to give milk, you’d be a fool not to drink it, and let your bones stay strong.