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Shhh…Quiet, The Ocean Is Talking

I am at Sea Ranch, a ranch of houses on the coast of California near Gualala.

So far nothing I’ve seen about the animals here is normal. They are fat for one thing. And they don’t scare. Yesterday, a herd of deer in the yard. I opened the sliding glass door expecting them to dart off into the Madrones. But they only looked at me, un-startled and kept chewing their grass. The babies were very curious and lost most interest in the grass and stared at me unflinching as I ran a roll of film on them.
And then there are the geese that live at the water tower in the town of Mendocino. Lets just say that when it comes to them getting what they want they pull out all the stops. They waddle and talk and overtly hint for food by sticking their long necks out and turning their head up in a curious, yet forceful way.

I’m sure these are British geese. They have all the social mastery of the Brits. Food is a sort of social passport, so if you don’t feed them within the first 3 minutes of the visit they waddle away, heads down, butts only halfway wagging in obvious disappointment. They don’t look back (stiff upper beak) they just mutter on in their own language–deeply wounded. I asked the street artist if they ever get fed. He said, “they get fed all day long, and they talk way too much. And they’re fat too.” He did drawings of the town and sold them to tourists. He called me ‘Sistah’.

This kind of stuff may seem day to day to most, but I feel like a spectator at Carn-i-val. Watching the kites and gulls, my eyes can’t get enough, the contrasts of colors, how the mist of the ocean lays a blanket of saturation, illuminating the reds in the woods, the purples in the rock, the greens of the ocean and cyan of the hot tub. Oh and the wine label wall paper in restaurants I’ve seen in Sonoma and how the restaurant owners do make a point of not condoning arrogance. A vigil for the humble.

My hands look younger here. Well, I was younger here–perhaps a mirage?
I grew up in Willits the town of the Skunk Train–which I only rode when I wanted an office space apart from my family to write in. Willits was also the town rednecks and marijuana but I hear its evolved into skateboarding and a horses’ paradise. But yes, when I was 13 I faked my age to get a work ID so I could wear rollerskates and a mini-skirt and hook meal trays onto car windows. And I saw the police ask black families to leave town. My whole purpose in life, when I lived there was to leave. Now, a few decades forward, here I am a mere 50 miles southwest and I’m swooning over the smell of the damp bark, the shape of the Moronne trees swirling into the sea charged sky. I’m enamored by the mustard weeds, and taking photos of the yellow fire hydrants because I haven’t seen any like them anywhere else. But the ocean, that wild winded heartbeat out there; the womb of this world. Its got me hooked. And at times like this I would swear I’m visiting the hospital of my birth, its motion is constant.

People are rather ‘huggie’ in coastal areas I’ve noticed. My friend Simone noticed the same. “What is it with all the hugs? she said. They better know Me before they go hugging me.” I was glad I hadn’t hugged her when I first met her, probably would have woken up on the other side of the room.

In the cafe ‘Hello Beautiful” is a normal greeting from men. One woman sitting in her pajamas and clearly just out of bed was joined by a man looking who said “hey beautiful, can I join you?” Hair straight up, jean jacket, glasses, and pale in that way that says, “I haven’t been vertical long enough for the blood to visit my outer layers, like my skin”–later his girlfriend came in a bit after pj woman left and they hugged and held hands a lot.

What is it about the sea that makes people so, well…you know…schmooshy…and touchy feely? I was told 3 times in an hour how beautiful my hair is. A sailor asked if he could sit with me and the waitress asked where I shopped for clothes.

But how can one help it when you’re near the ocean, the elements turn on a dime. From pouring rain, like last night, to torrential winds and gorgeous blue skies like now, to hot and calm to cold and foggy. One’s defenses could be torn up here and the comfort of holding hands or someone noticing your beauty — because beauty is in every pore here..the houses, the vegetation, the food, and then of course the people–well, this is not so bad really. Not at all.

I live in Boulder Co. now. Rock. Big slated rock. And the people? Definitely not talking the latest in how to wear mini-skirts at mid life or what color they should buy for their faux contact lenses. But wow, can those Boulder folks belt out an argument about the headlines of the day. I was in Safeway before I left to get munchies and heard an argument all the way to the door from employees in the meat department.

Today, I fly back to Colorado. I really wish the rabbits would hop into my hair and do some real damage because they are so excited to see me.
But, sigh…no. It will be a good 4 days before they forgive me for leaving. They’ll huddle in their corners and look at me like; who the hell are you? We’ve moved on. They’ll put their long ears over their eyes when I try to make eye contact. “You left us, you get to suffer.” they’ll say in their clever bunny ways.

But I’m not going to think about that. I’m instead going to go eat some great food and have a nice glass of Ca. Chard. and some sourdough bread. Why does everything taste so good here? I was this close to paradise as a rebel teen and thought this was the worst place in the world. That Ca. was so boring. What an idiot! Dakota agrees. He’s dreaming of green; a sea of greens for rabbits. His version of a sane government.


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  • Verna Wilder on May 05, 2007 Reply

    Wow! You sure as hell captured the Mendocino coast — smells and color and texture and hugs and all. I’m speechless. I’ve been there; you took me back. Thanks, Niya.

  • GuRuth on Apr 16, 2007 Reply

    You have made me miss California all over again! Austin is great, and they call us the ‘Third Coast’…but it’s all just a dream without an ocean.
    I’m sure that the bunnies would forgive you if they could experience it themselves.

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