Point Lobos, burn-your-throat truth

o5.14.o5  8 Wind  tzol 242  sat   <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />11:42:o8 pm

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /> 

    Point Lobos is where the gods invite you to visit so you can learn about green and about blue. You go to the Louvre or Bilbao or NYMoma to see humans paint and sculpt. You go to Point Lobos to see the gods rip your brain open in a dream of dreams. Point Lobos is where the gigantic ocean meets the gigantic continent and you are standing in that zone of awe where the raw, distilled, brandy burn-your-throat truth is clarified. Where you aren’t gonna be the same no more.

    I wasn’t swayed because at Devil’s Cauldron the sea is indigo and the dark luminous turquoise of your eyes when you’re glad. I wished I could be grateful enough for being inside this radiant scudding painting with pale grey-green feathery California sage. With cormorants landing in the Sea Lion Cove skipping like stones in snatches of white on the cobalt water as they came in to land. Dozens and hundreds of them diving in 30 seconds or 8 seconds to gather just the best piece of kelp for the nests they are building now in early May. They are black streamlined birds, bullets with wings.

    On the way to Devil’s Cauldron near an offshore underwater canyon bigger and deeper than the Grand Canyon, there is poison hemlock with a white doily of tiny white flowers which looks like the Queen Anne’s Lace flowers in the East. The only way to tell it from the nearby benign yarrow is that the poison hemlock has purple spots on its stem, the ‘blood of Socrates.’ The plants here at the edge of the continent where the ocean batters and sloshes are tough. They have earned their peculiar beauty. This is not a place for the timid. On the way to Sea Lion Cove and Devil’s Cauldron, with their rounded igneous granodiorite gray and black rocks and the jutting and fissured carmelo formation caramel and strawberry syrup colored melted sandstone rocks, are rattle snake grass; apricot-colored sticky monkey flowers; lizard tail; hedge nettle; pearly everlasting; bright silver soft-leafed beach sagewort. When you get to the cove, you are on rocks above the seagulls and the iridescent swallows who the French call hirondelles, looking down with slight vertigo on their sunstruck wings. We do not expect to be above birds.

    You are overwhelmed both suddenly and slowly. You are buffeted in your capitulating mind between the outrageous grand and the startling small secrets. The stupid habitual encrusted tediums of the workaday world are being sculpted off you by cruel and tender gods set upon your release; upon your permanent devotion; upon your ungrudging love. You are walking and waking in a terrible and wild dream – which doesn’t need you at all, has been seals and cormorants and lace lichen and seaside painted cup and sky lupine and gray loco weed for a million years, and yet too it wants you to caress it with your noticing, your devoted noticing. You begin the day cool – impressed some perhaps but still in control. A few hours later, you know that control is absurd, petty, irrelevant. The square-stemmed wood mint, the miner’s lettuce, the bull kelp, the beach morning glory, the witches teeth, the carefully folded white globe lily and the blue-eyed grass have conspired with the flicker of the black lizard and the gray lizard and the round-eared small rabbit to win your hardened heart.

     An otter’s pelt is the softest densest fur on Earth. They have no blubber so depend on this fur to keep them snug in the frigid North Coast waters. (The frequent fog is caused by a warm inland day hitting the cold air upwelling off shore from the immense Carmel Bay and Monterey underwater canyons which are up to 7000 feet deep. My day was a glory of sun.) When I touched an otter’s pelt for the first time, my knees went weak – it was so soft and thick, it was the gelato of  fur, thick and sweet. But warm inherently, like the heart of Baldar who can do no harm. A group of otters is called a ‘raft of otters.’ They spend a third of the day eating, a third napping, and a third grooming the magic fur. They eat abalone. They each carry their special shellfish- bashing rock under their arm. I watched three of them lie on a sloshing huge bed of fox-colored giant kelp. They lie on their backs lounging on the bosomy swells of the sea. I want more otter in the life of our planet. Snacking and napping. (There is a Greek word for a glorious day: halcyon. A halcyon day is the kind of sweet day in which a kingfisher can make her nest upon the bosom of the sea. Or an otter can bask and nap.)

   There is a primeval forest at one end of the park. The Monterey Cypress are surpassingly strange with their odd flat silver trunks, all twist and tilt, and black green leaf-needles. They are older than the invention of the United States. They belong to the Ohlone Indians. I think they may be the Ohlone Indian shamans who wait for the imperially stupid white man to get cured of psychic sicknesses worse than the virulent physical diseases he also brought to these patient and glorious shores. The Cypress forest is so eerie and haunted; one is constantly brushed quite distinctly by the unseen. These ancestors are not unfriendly. I’m sure that if you were there alone on a moonlit night, you could see them in substance, if you were filled with respect.

    I haven’t even gotten yet to the ribbon-candy sky and the more colors of water than you have ever seen or dreamed. Or the sagey, chapparal, salty smells. Or the sounds of the percussions and hisses and rumbles, near and far: the rattlesnake grasses; the fierce Scylla& Charybdis whirlpools; the barking of the lobos marinos or sea wolves or sea lions; the petulant squawks of the baby seals. The mosaic of magic of Point Lobos is the legerdemain of the gods who smell like strawberries. 


copyright pogblog 2005

for jamie fuller, a fable

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *