There are still places in the world, far away from city lights and the effluvia of industry, where it’s possible to step outside at night, and see a black firmament lit by myriads of stars, inspiring awe and insignificance in the beholder, much as experienced by our ancestors over the millennia. Knowing that each of those points of lights represents a sun composed of gases at temperatures beyond our capacities to appreciate, and that these stars are dying and being born again throughout countless galaxies, does nothing to diminish that awe – it only accentuates it. So the night sky fills our souls in Cayucos, allowing us to peer into but a fragment of the mysteries of the cosmos, and to be transformed, even for a brief spell, into creatures holding on to each other for reassurance as we confront the vastness of the Universe, and allow ourselves to soar together beyond the boundaries of our everyday existence as we participate in a moment that will stay with me for far longer than the experience. It is for such moments that we travel, and that we treasure as time passes on.
We’ve taken another opportunity to join our best friends for a long weekend in a small beach-side cottage along the Central Coast of California. We have been renting this place for several years in early February, long before the summer crowds descend, and before much of this part of the coast is often covered in fog. There are few things as relaxing as waking in the morning to the sound of surf exerting its rhythmic pull on our psyche, watching the rising sun bring to life the scene of diving birds and scampering sandpipers looking for their breakfasts, along with a few joggers and their dogs loping along the ocean’s edge.
The smell of morning coffee and bacon cooking on the stove never fails to bring Miki awake, whereas she might otherwise be tempted to sleep through this, the best time of the day. (There is always time for a nap after breakfast and a morning walk on the beach.) Mike has built a beautiful guitar, and its mellow tones provide an appropriate soundtrack for our appreciation of the surroundings.
Miki and Jeanine will be spending at least part of the day working on a jigsaw puzzle spread out on the card table, a guilty pleasure they both enjoy, but for which they only find time during these vacations. We’ve brought along several books from the large pile waiting to be read, but based on prior experience, we’ll be lucky to get through one of them. Somehow, having a panoramic 180 degree view of the beach with its rolling surf, as well as the curve of the coast with its verdant gently sloping hills, provides a distraction strong enough to pull the eyes away from the printed page, riveting them instead on nature’s display all around us.
Last night’s sunset was particularly glorious – a perfusion of clouds with progressively darkening pinks to reds, finishing off with a magenta haze as the few distant lights up the coast softly flickered on through the coming evening fog that remains localized to the cove at the bend of the land, signaling the arrival of yet another star filled night.
We are adjusting to the rhythm of the place, rapidly shedding all the vestiges of my usually over-scheduled life, reveling in the easily soluble dilemma of whether we should walk on the sunlit beach before or after we eat a little something, and napping whenever the mood strikes us. This may not be Paradise, but it will do until the real thing comes along.