Tuesday, March 19, 2013

THE SEA by Ron Croci

Credit Ron Croci
           Shortly after we arrived in California, around the same time I discovered the salt flats, my Father took me to the Pacific Ocean, which was a short car ride from our house. I would have found my own way there but I was only 12 and I need a ride. My Dad was a fisherman and a sailor so he was used to seeing the Ocean, but me, I had never seen anything like it. We went there to go surf fishing; or rather my Dad did as I didn’t know how. I remember it was very cold and overcast with stormy clouds rolling overhead. The Sea was Grey, and the surf was big and churning. Sea birds and Seals were everywhere. We walked down a steep trail to a small sheltered cove, to a place called MARTINS BEACH. Behind us were tall coastal cliffs that reminded me of a giants fantasy castle. The beach sloped steeply and the shore break rumbled furiously. The salt spray mixed with the scent of the animals had a rich sharp smell that could have been called stinky, but actually fresh and alive. I was mesmerized. Sitting there on the edge of the sand, staring at the thundering surf gave me the same feeling of vertigo that a person gets when they look over a cliff and feel like jumping. It was as though I were a zombie that could walk with out blinking into the jaws of the Ocean never to be seen again. Of course I did not. I just sat and stared. After watching my Dad for a while I wondered down to a flat rocky ledge. There was a tall cliff with a sharp corner. And when I walked around this corner what I saw surprised me.
           Here was a large sea cave, about 30 feet high and a hundred feet deep. The bottom was an enormous tide pool with clear calm water gently washing back and forth.  This was Magic. The walls were dripping wet, and shimmering with silver light from the reflections of the tide pool. All over the walls crabs, snails and many large bug like sea creatures were running in all directions then stopping to stare at me with their eyes on the ends of long stalks. The sound of the waves in the distance echoed off the walls. The real treasure though lay at my feet. The water in the tide pool floor was about twelve inches deep and completely covered with Sea life. It was as though I stood on top of an enormous piece of jewelry totally encrusted with every kind of jewel imaginable. I got down on all fours and stared. Sea Urchins, tiny Eels, Star Fish, lime green Sea Grass, Snails, Crabs, little fish, and most things I didn’t even know of blanked the bottom. I waded into the icy water and was beside myself with delight. I grabbed in every direction. It was as though I wanted to embrace the whole pool. My Dad was a ways off but keeping an eye on me. It was safe in there and he knew it, so he let me play around and amuse myself. Well, amuse myself I did. Sticking my fingers in Sea Anemones and watching them close. I tried to catch little silver fish that were like swimming shards of glass. Then to my amazement I saw a little Octopus. It was only six inches wide as it sat on a seaweed covered rock changing colors.
            I spent the afternoon there among the sparkles and reflections, absorbed in all the colors of red, green, purple and black, turning over rocks to see entire colonies of living wiggling creatures. It seemed there was no end to it. Then I looked up to see my Dad peeling blue and black shelled mussels from the rocks.  We went home after that and cleaned the four inch mussels and put them into boiling water. After several minuets they opened up and I could see their orange flesh. We dropped the muscles in hot butter and lemon juice. Their salty marine flavor took me right back to that cave of jewels.
             I have returned there many times and have always delighted in observing the life in this shimmering grotto. This story has no moral or dark tale of redemption. Nothing weird really, just a wonderful experience a twelve year old boy had as he realized for the first time the power and beauty of the Pacific Ocean.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for using this story of my childhoods first view of the Pacific Ocean. This story along with others I have written were made for a 6th grade class in Florida. However I am very glad that you are using it here because I dont want people to get the idea that only surfers want to use this beach. Martins Beach is one of the only beach acesses in the vicinity that has surf, cliffs, tide pools, easy to see sea life, skindiving, fishing and it is a beautifful sheltered mini bay unlike anything in the area. It is also important that people who visit the beach understand that it is a privlidge and must be respected. Good luck, I am with you all the way.