Sunday January 8, 2017 was a spectacular day in Solana Beach. Magical really—one of those days one is, almost, reluctant to share with anyone outside San Diego County for fear of being accused of gloating or, worse, rubbing it in. The morning was actually a chilly 52—I’m sorry that’s what we consider cold— and still drying out from a little rain the day before. As things began to “improve” I checked the tide table and saw there would be a super minus tide at Noon. I texted my daughter Brittany and suggested she and our grandsons, Wyatt and Hunter, meet Hilary and me at Fletcher Cove.
The boys were a little cranky, having stayed up too late the night before watching Willie Wonka. The photo is of Hunter and, no, he’s not exclaiming “Oh, isn’t this beautiful!” Rather, he’s making it very clear “The tide pools are too far! I want to go hOOOOme!”
That’s La Jolla in the backround. The sky and the ocean were that crisp deep blue, the wisps of clouds reflected in the sheen of the wet, hard-packed sand flecked with bits of kelp. Hundreds of surfers and stand up paddle boarders competed for the perfectly formed waves that rose up from the glassy sea. Backs of gray whales making their way to birthing grounds in Baja Mexico creased the surface.
As I led the half mile death march to the tide pools we shed clothes to accommodate the rising temperature which approached 80 degrees. I wish I had an “after” photo to share with you. We spent two hours at the pools. The exposed rock beds were covered in a soft velvet moss, easy on our fragile feet. Wyatt and Hunter initially approached them with trepidation, careful not to get too wet. As they discovered the thrill of poking their fingers into sea anemones—or, as Hunter would say, ‘an enemy’— getting squirted in the face with jets of water, and having their fingers swallowed whole by the squishy, tentacled invertebrate, all caution was abandoned. They leaped about from pool to pool hunting for creatures to examine—and torment. A slightly older boy had his head inside a small sea cave and loudly claimed to have spotted a small lobster that was just out of the reach of his small net. Hunter and Wyatt were envious.
The flat rocks closest to the breaking waves were covered with long brilliant green sea grass and quite slippery. Hunter quickly figured out that by taking a few quick steps and launching onto his butt, he could make a nifty, smooth slide and splash into one of the deeper pools. Wyatt soon joined the fray and the shirtless boys were soaked from head to toe.
On the walk back to Fletcher Cove, the boys ran ahead splashing in every crucible of water trapped by the receding tide. Brittany, Hilary and I hung back and Brittany summed up what all of us were thinking in three words. “This is heaven.”
She didn’t mean “like heaven.” This morning—that moment—we experienced heaven. Everything was perfect—the ocean, the sky, the clouds, the creatures of the sea, the warmth of the sun, the pure joy of the boys and the overflowing love for one another and everyone and everything. Heaven right here on earth. That might be a good name for a website, I think. http://heronearth.com/
Back to 17. As you can see in the photo, Hunter is wearing the number 17 jersey of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, but its significance didn’t dawn on me until that night when Brittany sent me the photo she had taken on January 8, 2017. 1.8.17.
It was one of those days.