Sunday, April 10, 2011

"It's our Beach!"

In the past one of my favourite things to do here is to walk on the Beach at sunrise. Unfortunately, it has been too long since the last time I enjoyed this simple pleasure. I can blame increased activity at work (we have been busier in the past month or so than at any time in the past 2 ½ years) but with the recent time change the sunrise is now an hour later, and the temperatures have jumped almost 10 degrees in the past week, so one morning this week I headed for the Beach about 7:00 am, as soon as I woke up.

The short 250 yard walk from my house brought me to the sea grass “berm” that separates the shoreline from the row of Beachfront homes, and I saw that on this morning there was a very low tide. The sky was already brightening behind Isla Carmen, which forms almost half of our horizon to the east, as the sun has moved almost midway on it’s circuit to the north. Combined with the smaller Ilsa Coronado, further north and more opposite the town of Loreto, these two islands provide a perspective that helps to define the ocean view better than the simple water line in the distance that would be there without them.

To begin my stroll towards Punta Nopolo, the rocky point that marks the southern end of the Beach, I only had a few lazy Pelicans for company, cruising inches above the glassy surface of the water on this calm morning. In the distance I could see a fishing boat offshore, presumably catching some bait before heading out into deeper waters in search of Cabria, Yellow Tail or other game fish.

The Beach sand, exposed at this low tide, was pock-marked with evidence of thousands of clams buried below the surface, their mini-volcano holes filled with sand from the gentle actions of the waves. There were also rolls of greenish brown seaweed scattered in patches along the shore, left behind by the receding water, and marking another seasonal episode of the plant and animal life that comes and goes in a constantly shifting cycle.

As the sun first breaks over the top of the distant Island, my attention is torn between the spectacle of this dazzling event and the opposite view of the golden light striking the rugged mountain peaks directly opposite to the west. Now that the dawn was rising, I could see some activity further down the beach. In the distance I saw a small boat being manoeuvred across the beach and into the gently breaking water on the shore.

Still further down the beach, there were other early risers accompanied by two dogs coming towards me and the boat, being launched between us. As I got closer, I recognized Kaz, a fellow Homeowner preparing his inflatable canoe for launching as he was joined by Bruce and Susan, their daughter Michelle, and their two beautiful black Setters. As I approached, it became apparent that preparations were underway for a fishing expedition, but I soon found out that this was no ordinary day, in fact, it was Michelle’s Birthday – and “her” day was going to begin with a fishing trip with friend and neighbour Kaz.

While the boat was being loaded with tackle and the electric outboard, and Bruce was helping Michelle get settled in the bow seat, Susan headed off for a leisurely jog down the beach, enthusiastically accompanied by her four legged companions. I gather this is a frequent morning ritual for the family, in fact, Susan was explaining to me that their dogs were so well attuned to the routine that they cannot say the word “beach” when they are at home and the dogs are around, without causing them to go into a (well behaved) frenzy of excitement! The vocabulary of these obviously intelligent dogs is such that their Humans have to either spell certain words like this, or substitute the Spanish word, to maintain reasonable order. From what I observed of these two dogs, I would be concerned that it may not be long before even these subterfuges are broken by the canine members of the family!

After the boat was launched into the shallow low tide, there was some delay in getting into deep enough water for the small electric outboard to be fully submerged. So, to offer some assistance, Bruce flipped his paddle board into the water and headed out to join the fisher’s canoe. These paddle boards have begun to become popular here because the often calm, shallow water off our shoreline provide the ideal conditions for using them. A paddle board looks like an oversized surfboard 8 – 10 feet long and a good 3 feet wide, with the upside surface covered in a ribbed mat, to provide secure footing so you can stand and use a long paddle to propel the board smoothly through the water.

I carried on down the beach and saw the fishing boats in the distance fire up their engines and start to pull away, heading north towards Coronado, presumably stocked with bait and full of the high expectations that every fisher begins their day with. Close to shore, the ever present Pelicans alternate their unchanging routine of floating motionlessly in the water, then thrashing awkwardly into the air, and with a few quick beats of their huge wingspan, glide motionlessly mere inches above the water, punctuating their flight with occasional dive bomber plunges into the water, usually emerging with a fishy snack for their efforts.

Upon reaching the end of the Beach in front of the INN, with the sun truly risen again for another day, I turned around to retrace my steps and make my way back home. As I did so, I admired some of the recently finished Beachfront homes and the progress that was being made on the few remaining unfinished properties. In the now full sun, seeing these beautiful homes glisten in the morning air, I appreciate how much closer we are to fulfilling the vision we all shared for this place when there were only chalk lines on the sand.

Now in the distance, I can see Bruce standing straight on his board as he paddles beside the canoe as it is making it`s way on Michelle`s special fishing trip. Further down the beach, I meet Bradley, another Homeowner, walking his dog Shilo along the Beach, stooping occasionally to pick up the odd plastic bag or other trash that has washed up on shore with the receding tide. We greet each other, as Susan jogs past with a broad smile on her return trip, with her canine escorts that seem to be smiling as well.

After greeting Bradley, I acknowledge his clean-up efforts and thank him, to which he replies simply; “It`s our Beach!”, then with a smile and a wave he and Shadow carry on with their early morning ritual. This phrase echoes in my head as I make my way back home to get ready for the day – “It`s our Beach” - yes it is, and a sunrise stroll is probably the best way to enjoy it`s ever-changing beauty and a special time for the spontaneous meetings with friends and neighbours sharing that special time of day.

While I don`t get down to the beach for the sunrise as often as I would like to, whenever I do, I promise myself I will return again sooner, because every time I start my day that way I remember why this is one of the best parts of “Living Loreto”!