Friday, November 5, 2010

The Beach After Dark

Alma and I got off to a bit of a late start tonight. We did not arrive at the beach until about 5:45 p.m. and so had only about 15 minutes before the sun set. We used that time to good purpose and collected various odds and ends that man and the sea had abandoned there, including a plastic bubble blower, a single flip flop, and several plastic bottle caps of differing hues. Alma is going through her 'yellow' period right now, so a premium is on for any yellow bottle caps. We found exactly one, but I also found a hot pink bottle cap.

Beach activity (at least of the human variety) tends to slow dramatically after Labor Day and goes into almost full cardiac arrest after the end of October. But Los Angeles has been experiencing a week of unusually high temperatures this week. And so Alma and I were not entirely surprised to see that many more people were on the beach yesterday and today. But we were surprised to see that two of the lifeguard shacks that been pulled back a distance from the water's edge at the end of October had again been pulled forward and were again being staffed by Los Angeles County lifeguards.

We stopped one of those lifeguards, a young Adonis who called himself 'Cornelius,' to ask why the lifeguards were back on duty. "Simple, really," he replied. "There's been increased beach activity and it's been too much for the single lifeguard [at the Washington Blvd. pier] to monitor." We asked why they had pulled the wooden lifeguard shacks back from the water's edge at the end of October. He was a bit unclear but thought they had been pulled from the water's edge to protect them from the elements and from effects of the high tides.

Cornelius, a young guy, probably 22-3, with dark black hair and a deep tan, brings back memories of Baywatch. He definitely made me feel my age. But a very nice, personable young man and a tribute to the Los Angeles County lifeguards (about whom I shall write in more detail later).

Anyway, tonight, Alma and I had natural sunlight for only the first half of our walk to the Villa Marina jetty. In fact, the sun set about fifteen minutes into this first leg of our walk. It was a spectacular sunset, as these things go. Again there were light cirrus clouds. But this time the clouds seemed to cover the entire sky and not merely the western horizon. These cirrus clouds were less like bird feathers and more as if a child had used a piece of white tissue paper for a craft project and the tissue paper had gotten a few drops of water on it, such that the tissue began to shred so that you could see what was behind the tissue paper (the bluest of skies).

When the sun set tonight, first the eastern horizon lit up pink. The pink tracked the sun's gradual extinquishment westward. At one point, Alma and I stopped and looked back over our shoulders. We walk north to south so we were looking northward towards the Santa Monica Mountains. The entire sky to the north was pink. Ahead of us (looking south), the entire sky was pink. Looking east (inland) the entire sky was pink. And looking west (toward the far horizon), the entire sky was pink. Imagine being in the middle of a giant cotton candy factory.

Here are two photos (each taken by Alma on her cellphone) of tonight's sunset:

Looking southeast (inland) towards Playa del Rey

Looking westward

By the time we reached the jetty, the sand had begun to cool dramatically, such that we each felt we should put our shoes back on for the return leg. And all the pink by now had vanished from the sky. The lights of the buildings that front the beach were coming on - many apartments and condominiums with lights glowing softly as people came home from work. Further afield, we could see the lights of Playa del Rey (a beach community further south of Marina del Rey) twinkling and the psychedelic light splash of the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica pier.

Alma and I had a spirited discussion during the return leg of the walk on whether it might get so dark that we would stumble by accident into the Pacific on our return leg. I maintained that there would be enough ambient light from the buildings and the last vestiges of twilight to light us back to the jumping-off point. Alma thought we might not be so lucky. As it happened, we arrived back at the jumping off point before it got totally dark.

But I actually think Alma was right -- there is not enough ambient light for night-time navigation on foot. Walking along the beach in the dark definitely differs from walking in natural light. For one thing, the sounds (the white noise of the waves) are amplified and man-made sounds quieted. And, even though we had put our shoes on for the return leg, I could feel the cool dampness of the sand through the soles of my tennis shoes. The distance we had to walk seemed both far greater because we could not see our terminus but also far shorter because we could only see a few feet in front of us and so had no real sense of how much longer we would need to walk to finish. The next time one of our walks or a portion thereof happens after sunset, I will pay more attention to the qualities of the beach walk during the dark.

I see that I now have yet another follower tonight. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. Thank you, follower, whoever you may be.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading all these. I feel like i am reading a book. I loved the pics also. I miss the ocean.