I saw the following on my recent walk through the neighborhood of Point Dume, which ends at the Headlands, where a series of paths take you either up the incline or down to the beach. On my walk, I followed the trail through the headlands then down to Westward Beach’s parking lot, which hugs the sand, and all in all, the walk took me a little over an hour. What strikes me most about Point Dume as a residential neighborhood is how quiet it is, as well as the monstrous, indigenous succulent plants that line the road. The historic area was once hallowed ground to the Chumash Indians, and the three-sided ocean view is endless. Point Dume juts far enough into the Pacific Ocean to be the favorite local destination for the yearly whale migration, which happens in in both north and south directions from January through March. Point Dume is an extraordinary, beautiful area, exemplary of what can be found along southern California’s coastline.
A Celebration of Plants
I have a deep appreciation for plants, both indoors and out. When plants grow in Southern California, they flourish year round, and often reach monstrous proportion. As an ice storm inconveniences the American Southeast, I’m counting the many blessings of living in sunny, Southern California. Many of the photographs included in this post were taken in a Malibu, residential neighborhood called Point Dume, while other photographs were taken in my yard, and some inside my house.
Potted blooming cactus
Out Walking This Morning
I’m on a walking path that trails along the cliffs of Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, California. It’s 67 degrees at 8:30 AM, and all is quiet. It seems I’m the only one who has thought to get out this early, and I like it. I have the area to myself, and although I have Groove Music and earphones, I have forfeited that in favor of listening to the rhythm of the waves. There’s something timeless about this area, something constant and steady, and looking to the great beyond, I see the curvature of the earth from America’s last edge before Hawaii.
I am always torn between wanting to stay in the moment to keep it for myself, and capturing it with my camera. I’ve lived in this area for twenty years, yet I’m endlessly awestruck by the uniqueness of each wave. They are ceaseless and arrive with their individual story; each wave a life-force with its own beginning, middle, and end that completes its destination then draws back intuitively to make space for another. The waves draw back to their source to become one with their origin; each wave is itself, yet it’s part of the ocean and I stand and think of unity and wonder where rebirth begins.
I wish this photograph gave an accurate scale of the expanse. Before me and behind me is much the same as you see here. Around the cliff at the right is a long stretch of sand similar to all others in this part of the California coastline. The tide determines how far I can walk; there have been times when I could walk for hours, and times when the tide was too high to walk around the bend.
This photograph is taken from an elevated view along the trail’s decline that ends at the beach. The rock you see at the left is the favorite perch of sea birds that cluster together, spreading their wings in impressive numbers, no matter the time of day. It is their resting point, their sanctuary, and they occupy this rock in harmony. It’s an interesting observation: I’ve seen seabirds on this rock innumerable times, and the thing that strikes me is I’ve never seen them less than accommodating for each other.
A closer view of that rock. If you look closely, you can see the seabirds.
I often take my camera, aim the lens and wait for the perfect moment, which I think is the time immediately before the wave folds and stretches for the sand. I don’t always capture it, but this next photograph comes close:
This photograph is telling of how one wave can break with multiple timing. Always, my aspiration is to find the middle of the dance.
I like this endless view because it gives me proper perspective… on a lot of things, actually, all having to do with time and tide and my place in eternity.
California is currently experiencing the “Stay-at-Home” order. We’ve been in and out of this state of affairs for months, and to tell you it’s disorienting is my idea of a full confession. Life feels constricted, pared down its least common denominator and being as it is that I’m on the downswing of the 90 day mark since my 4th novel (Little Tea) released, I’m in between projects. Kind of. I’m still promoting Little Tea, but not with the fervor I had seven months ago. I have the first draft of another book completed, but perhaps it’s the second. Quite possibly it’s the third. It’s hard to say, I tend to revise as I move forward. The draft is finished, but at the moment, I’m not motivated to rush through the project. I’d rather wait until the world rights itself– whatever that will look like– and see how the pause inflicted on the world will influence how we move forward. Word on the street is things will change. Business as we know it may alter. There will be a “new normal” and how this pertains to my little universe leaves me deeply concerned about the new normal of the publishing business. I’m biding my time, and thinking about a line I wrote in my 3rd novel, Mourning Dove, when Finley looks at his sister, Millie, and says, “Mastering the ambiguities of life is the hardest task any of us will ever be called to do.” I believe this is true in my bone marrow.
One thing that occurred to me at the start of the pandemic is the necessity of a daily schedule. I’m well aware that I live in a desirable location by anyone’s standards– no extreme weather, I’m in somewhat of a rural area, and before me as far as the eye can see, the Pacific Ocean stretches forever. So, I’ve been out walking every morning. Setting my feet to the sand sets my mind aright and my world in order. Suffice it to say, I don’t take where I live for granted, and many has been the time when I’ve wished I could share the view. It now dawns on me that I can. I’ll begin with my walk this morning.
I walked along Malibu’s Westward Beach as I made my way to the Point Dume Headlands. You have to walk along the sand until you reach the beginning of the trail that winds up to the Point Dume area.
To the right of the trail’s beginning is this:
I walked up about thirty yards until I came to this:
There were few people around at 8:00 this morning as I made my way through the headlands to the ocean view on the north side of The Point:
To the left of this observation deck is this:
Which leads to this:
Which leads to this view:
Point Dume is essentially a neighborhood in a breathtaking location. There are no parking lots for tourists; all in all, it’s a quiet, cliffside retreat. On the other side of The Point that you see in the above photograph is Paradise Cove and its pier. There’s a popular restaurant named Paradise Cove right on the beach, and it can be accessed from its driveway off the Pacific Coast Highway.
Since the houses on Point Dume are situated on the cliffs above Westward Beach, there are a few stairs that lead from the neighborhood to the sand.
I find the cliffs beautiful in their natural splendor, telling of the terrain. Here is what the cliffside looks like between Point Dume and the sand.
I finished my hour and a half walk through the Point Dume Headlands this morning by watching the waves. It was a grey, overcast, foggy morning, but truth be told, that weather suits me. I prefer to greet the day before the California sun is full on.
There are other Malibu beaches I go to in the morning, so I’ll save more photographs for another post.
I’m sharing my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6QbvYwbKM71znGk5zZBb-Q
Because I’ve made videos while walking Malibu’s beaches.
I’d love to hear where readers of this post live! I’m interested in hearing how anyone structures their day, as we wait for whatever will be our new normal!
It took me a while to evolve from a feeling of anxious, pandemic shell-shock to resume what has long been a habit of mine. I like to walk. I don’t need a destination. More often than not, I walk down my driveway in Malibu, California and the biggest decision is whether to turn right or left. I typically listen to Groove Music, where I’ve downloaded my favorite albums. It’s not so much about where I walk as it is the rhythm I strike while moving through space. There’s something centering about it, balancing, and it tends to clarify my perspective regardless of what’s on my mind. And these days, I have a lot on my mind, though most of it has to do with uncertainty.
What got me out of the walking habit during the first few weeks of the pandemic’s strange state of affairs was that it rained sporadically, the sky remained overcast, and it added to the unbalancing sense of gloom and doom similar to how I felt after the Malibu fires when life came down to the daily question of how to get my bearing. I’ve always known walking helps me get my bearings. It’s therapeutic to me, a dreaming meditation, part-and-parcel to my well-being, and the one thing I know about coping in crisis is it’s best to arrive at a schedule as close to business as usual. Since the sun’s been shining in Malibu these past few days, walking is at the center of what little I’ve managed to cobble of a schedule.
We’re currently not allowed on the beaches in Malibu, California, but on a rise of the Pacific Coast Highway, I spied this path. It goes through an indigenous, breathtaking field straight to the cliffs overlooking Nicholas Beach, which flows to the left.
Looking right, Nicholas Beach flows into Leo Carrillo State Beach and makes up western Malibu’s coastline.
The foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains are in Western Malibu, and they run into Ventura County.
There are beautiful wildflowers everywhere, now that we’re in spring: This is Pride of Medeira, and it’s plentiful everywhere.
Along the side of the Pacific Coast Highway is wild mustard seed and bougainvillea
This is ice plant, and currently, it’s blooming
And blooming Rosemary
It wouldn’t be a walk outside in Malibu, California, without spying something emblematic to give one a sense of place. Since we can’t go to the beaches, this brilliant man did the next best thing: parked his VW van for an ocean view and strummed on his guitar.
It took weeks of feeling uncomfortable during this pandemic before I realized what was really bothering me. It went beyond a feeling of lack of control and wrestling with the uncertainty of what I can and cannot count on in my future schedule. My book, Little Tea, releases on May 1st, and as things stand, I have no idea what will be called off in my mid-June book tour of the South. Reports say the US will aim for normalcy in stages; that individual states will move forward according to how its governer sees fit. Conditions differ in varying regions. I think it will be an unfolding. And be that as it may, even if the coast were totally clear, I’m shying from the thought of getting on a plane in June to travel down South. We’ve all been through so much. Even if things were to get back to normal, it’s probably going to take a while to feel normal. But back to what’s been bothering me, because this just dawned on me. I’ve been my own worst enemy through most of this because I haven’t been practicing acceptance, at least not in a way where I wasn’t still trying to fit my square plans into a round hole.
I took this photograph from my front yard a couple of weeks ago, and I believe it’s exemplary of a ray of hope in the midst of a storm.
One day this pandemic will be behind us. For now, I’m working on acceptance.
And the best way I know to work on acceptance?
Go outside and start walking.