Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Serenity Now

Serenity Now, 2012
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Back in July I wrote about my dislike of being a “tourist,” and used as the focal point for that essay a day spent in Monterey, California. Two months later, I haven’t changed my impression about Monterey. Aside from a terrific aquarium, the old cannery row is a tourist trap.
But enough about that. Today I speak up for a few moments of serenity that also occurred in Monterey.
In the daytime Monterey is overrun with tourists. But like a lot of places that are popular with tourists during the daytime, the early morning presents a very different impression.
We stayed just outside of the main tourist area at a place that was just across the street from the Pacific Ocean. At sunrise this little stretch of beach was quiet and, with the exception of just a few people walking their dogs, I had the place to myself. I wish you could have heard it. 
Monterey Bay meets the shore here with none of the drama of points further out on the Monterey Peninsula. There’s an intelligently landscaped park between the street and the beach. Fog obscured the long view and softened the edges of things.
I walked along the beach until I came to what looked like the only working wharf left on the downtown waterfront. A few fishermen were preparing their nets for the day. Occasionally you heard the chug-chug-chug of a fishing boat headed out for albacore.  
Across the harbor I heard seals making their distinction guttural bark. It took a while for me to realize that the sea lions were fighting among themselves for space on the transom (the back) of a small commercial fishing boat. As I watched them jump up onto the boat and make space by pushing other sea lions off of the boat, a harbor policeman approached and explained that so many sea lions had recently been trying to sun on the deck of another commercial fishing boat that their weight had caused the boat to capsize in the harbor.
Sometimes your serenity comes with a little humor from the natural world. It sure did for me that morning in Monterey. 
The San Giovanni, 2012

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