A Perfect Day DESPITE . . .

This weekend, facing double deprivation, I was feeling low. Not only are we dealing with Covid 19, but now the air in Berkeley is frequently unsafe because of the fires raging north and south of here—to say nothing of the crucible of sadness, worry and fear the additional catastrophe is causing. Now that it’s tidied and restored, my garden is usually a major attraction when Saturday rolls around. I was looking forward to potting a small collection of succulent cuttings I had let harden off, cleaning up my tomato plants now that we had convinced the critters to stay away, and deadheading my roses. But one look at the sky in the early morning told me my garden was off limits.

For a moment or two I felt trapped, then quickly realized there might be an option to staying indoors all day. When Jonah was young, we used to drive down the coast on Highway One to Pescadero Beach. A beautiful stretch of sand, with sandy coves, rocky cliffs and tide pools, Pescadero Beach offered entertainment for hours. What about heading there for the day?

After checking the air quality, we called Stephen’s daughter, Amelia, to see if she wanted to meet us at the beach with Jai, her partner and their four-and-a half-year old Lucien. It turned out that they had recently discovered a fabulous beach a bit closer, just south of Half Moon Bay, and we agreed to meet there at 1:00.

Thrilled to have created a plan that freed us from the smoky air for the day, we were already primed to enjoy ourselves. Driving down Highway One past Pacifica, Montara, Moss Beach and Princeton by the Sea, views of the ocean alternating with coastal small towns, despite the pandemic, the world seemed bright and alive. By the time we arrived at our rendez-vous point, Stephen and I already felt refreshed.

The beach was a short walk through meadows of mowed dry grass, past a cypress grove, then down a narrow trail to the sand. Once standing on the beach, orange bluffs rising behind us, sand stretching left and right as far as we could see, waves breaking near the shore, and beyond, the ocean meeting the horizon, I was restored. It was as if a magic carpet had lifted me up out of the smoke-filled Berkeley air and deposited me into a tropical paradise.

Shortly after we had settled on our blankets, Stephen pointed toward the sea, “I think I see a fin rising out of the water.”

“Where?” I asked.

“There,” he pointed.

Just then, not 30 feet from shore, we watched a dolphin shoot out of the water, arc, then dive back down. And suddenly, more fins appeared, some further out, others to the north, all arcing and diving, arcing and diving.

For the rest of the day, everything we did and saw was heightened: the mermaid we created with Lucien in the sand, her hair of seaweed, bodice of broken shells; the baseball flying and arcing from mitt to mitt; the boogie boarders gliding into shore, the toddler running alongside his parents, our tailgate dinner of delicious chicken schwarma from a restaurant Amelia and Jai had discovered the day before, the drive home in the moonlight.

In the middle of the pandemic and in the midst of the fires raging, we had been graced with a perfect day.

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On a Berkeley Street

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