[I wrote this several days ago, before I flew to Wisconsin. I’ve become an even worse blogger than diarist: I don’t always upload what I put in my journal. This post is for my incredible students in Nature Writing. Somehow, despite Zoom, we created a community that was welcoming, supportive, and entertaining. I thank our Waldens for giving us sanctuary and freedom.]
We’ve arrived late and mishap has preceded us. A helicopter hovers over Point Fermin, sequel to the sirens we heard earlier. Another body rescue, or recovery, I presume. Did they fall, jump, or were they pushed? A month or so ago, a young man and woman — the ages of my students — were found at the bottom of the cliffs. It wasn’t known if it was a double suicide, a murder suicide, or a selfie gone horribly wrong. These bluffs are treacherous. The crumbling sandstone shifts constantly. Most city folks don’t understand this natural terrain. It’s illegal to climb the cliffs, but ever since the internet discovered Sunken City, urban explorers and teenage taggers come here in droves. Followed by sirens and helicopters.
It’s the last week of the semester. I’ve become a lousy, erratic diarist. My early enthusiasm for journaling was displaced by all the other urgent concerns of my multitasking identities.
Or I just failed to prioritize me again.
Coming here and writing about nature was my refuge when the year started. I felt like I found my center, my safe place, my sweet spot — after a year of so much horror. The tide pools were my muse. I had purpose again.
So, where did my love go?
It’s still here. I sit down and immediately the words pour out. Poor Alex whines at me to get a move on: “The tide is rising. It’s windy. It’s cold. It’s boring.” I bribe him with doggie treats and scribble furiously.
I am so grateful for this class, this project, this Walden. When we began, the pandemic was still raging. Our country was in chaos. It seemed like 2021 was just going to be 2020 prolonged.
But peace, and vaccines, and health, and spring came. I’ve gone beyond hope to happiness.
Maybe, I stopped needing to write. But I haven’t stopped wanting to. And I won’t stop writing, again.
The helicopter is gone. At the old Spanish wall a man is trying to fly a trash bag tied to a string. Four surfers wait in vain for their waves. Tonight a “pink” moon is supposed to rise with the sunset. Maybe, I’ll come back then.
Post Script: The moon is/was spectacular. We watched it from the living room. It’s not pink, or even orange: It is white, bright like the sun. It lit up the eastern sky and the ocean below. I can see it now, peeking out over the neighbor’s roof. It will probably slip around to the west window over our bed and wake us up in the wee hours, as it likes to do. I don’t mind.
A drum circle and fire jugglers greeted the moon down at the beach, just like in the old days. The unusual is becoming usual again.
And now, the third helicopter of the evening. According to the citizen journalists of Facebook, there was a suicide at the lighthouse. For some, the rising comes too late.