Friday, June 22, 2018

a wonder of profound moments

Summer Solstice ‘18

I first celebrate this day of abundant light
by getting up at 2:30 a.m.
and going out on the deck
at this house by the Pacific Ocean:
the sky is clear
and hundreds of stars pinprick the blackness,
the Milky Way a faint band above me,

dawn comes clear and cool,
the ocean like a sunbather ready for the rays,
sea and shore birds all filled with purpose,

the early sun caresses the plants and rocks of the shore,
and reveals a brilliant whiteness to the breaking waves,
till quickly subdued a bit by a rising mist to the east,
contrast ramps down as a gray filter
rises between us and the rising sun,
the mood of the day is fickle so far,
typically mercurial for this part of the California coast,

a constant: the rocks who jut out into the waves are contorted
as if frozen screams from millennia of plates
grinding against each other,

I imagine the pressure when they were on the seabed
fusing them back into stone,
then the lifting, the twisting 
as continental and ocean plates each asserted a will,
some magma intruding to fill cracks, visible as bands now,

we celebrate the high point of the year
by driving down the coast to Point Lobos,
a protected marine reserve,
where the land abruptly rises from a bountiful sea,

so rich that rafts of otters lounge and feed
among the floating mats of seaweed,

harbor seals cavort and then sleep off 
their big meals on rocky islands,

a raucous calling from the gathering of sea lion males, 

adults and juveniles,
who cry out into the air 
as if they’re the loud English House of Commons,

even the plants seem caught up in the extravagance:
mats of lizard’s tail and bluff lettuce, with quantities of 
monkey flower, yarrow, and paintbrush,
myriad of other flowers greet us as we walk,

we stroll to the Bird Island overlook,
great rocks thrusting straight up from the water
with no connection to the mainland and its predators,
so hundreds of Brandt’s Cormorants nest there, 

close to the fish they easily catch,
we watch two black heron’s nests

through the enormous camera lens of a friendly volunteer,
who also points out where peregrine falcon often perch,
and we see one! and hear it screech off into the air,
with a mate?

the sun decides to brightly reveal this luxuriant world,
releasing blues and greens with the clear water 
that stretch what the palette can envision
and that clearly etch every line of animal and plant and rock,

mist comes back in again and again
and then goes away again and again,
as if to cleanse our palate between courses,

this Solstice is full of awe,
and we need  a pause in between courses of the bounty
so that we can hope to appreciate the next moment,

this Summer Solstice is a wonder of profound moments,

as the sun sets on the day
we hold the brilliance of its moments as long as we can.

Crab, Tidal Pool, Point Lobos

by Henry H. Walker
June 21, ‘18

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