Sunsets & Tides

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There’s a compelling argument to be made that the top competitive sports in Southern Kalifornia are surfing and surgical enhancement, in no particular order.

On closer scrutiny however, one would also have to include in this rarefied list the pervasive influence of what is most definitely The National Pastime of the Coastal Kalifornios; which Mr. Otis Redding so famously evoked when he wrote:

“I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay

Watching the tide roll away.

Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay

Wastin’ time”.

Every evening at sundown, any number of people of all ages, social stations and mental conditions -on and off their meds, standing, sitting, on benches, on the rocks, on the sand, in the water, surfing, wading, strolling, in their cars, in their campers, on their bicycles, smoking, drinking, eating, photographing, on their cell-phones, in conversation, self-conversing, meditating, bundled up in hoodies, barely covered in tank-tops and shorts, dogs in tow- convene at the closest beach or waterfront to watch the tide and the waves, waiting for the sun to make its daily dip behind the ocean’s edge, which it invariably does.

Precisely at sunset -perhaps in response to an ingrained primal cue unique to coastal folks, or maybe alerted by a special radio-frequency signal that only registered Kalifornios are attuned to (I surmise the receiver is sent with the return receipt of one’s first, ample, state-tax payment)- everyone immediately disperses. In less then five minutes the coast is clear, and this is not merely a figure of speech.

All seaside communities share a respect and fascination for the ocean. But considering that, at least on this bountiful coast, one has on good authority that the water is always there, all day, every day, and since most Kalifornio denizens do not derive their living from the sea; this diligent, daily pursuit of Sunset Satori is always a little disconcerting.

Of course, in the spirit of When-In-Rome-Do-As-The-Romans, one partakes heartily of these ritualized farewells to O Sole Mio. And as well, we enjoin with other hearty souls for Sunrise Salutations in the cold early mornings, when a slightly different subset of folks convene at the water. But one’s motivation is more mundane, ostensibly being into it for the majestic spectacle of nature’s sunsets (one is after all, a bona-fide artiste). In truth, the more compelling reason is to engage in the unabashed observation of the wide variety of bipedal fauna, in various stages of ostentation and undress, that every evening faithfully congregate along the coastline of Southern Kalifornia, with as much a desire to witness as to be witnessed.

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It is what it is and we like what it is.

Michael Mehl

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