As the hot and crispy season lingers on (and on) I'm taking refuge in photographic proof that someday, eventually, maybe even soon (are they talking about an el nino this year?) it will rain. And if you ignore the shrieky panic mode that TV newscasters revert to with the very first drop, it's lovely.
The photo above is from January 2010. The one below is from September (!) 2007.
One of my favorite events takes place on Sunday -- the annual Lions Club flea market.
We get scores of of vendors from all over the region selling everything from antiques and books and fine art to t-shirts and furniture and, inevitably, stuff made by someone who spent way too much time with a Bedazzler.
Yes, my eagle-eyed friends, the colors here are a teensy bit tweaked, but some days the challenges are such that even this glorious bit of the California coast calls for a moment of poetic -- or is it pixilated? -- license.
The bright white blast of summer eases out and in its place, in light that skims the mountains, autumn.
It's hard to say who was more startled during an early morning walk, me or this furry tarantula, who was crossing a mountain path just as the sun rose.
It's hard to see at this angle, but in the photo below the valiant spider has a front leg up, challenging the enormous human in from of him to a duel.
I'd bet on the spider.
You guys? We're in escrow.
I could write about how it feels, or simply leave it to Patsy:
That calm? Nothing to add?
Well said, little kitty.
If you squint real hard you can see that the heron, while facing forward, is actually focused 100 percent on the annoying human with the camera.
The Little Dog, he ignores completely. If I breach the safety zone, though, which is precisely calibrated in his avian brain, whoosh, he's gone, and I have a lovely shot of muddy footprints.
I love this spot on the coast, a little hill with a bit of a birds-eye view where you can clearly see the northern curve of the Santa Monica bay, the arm of land that is Point Dume, separating us from the open ocean to the north.
The parrots woke first, rowdy and raucus, calling from tree to tree. Then a rooster's voice floated in from a house nearby, and the dogs next door piped up.
With an alarm clock like that, who can resist? And there, in the morning light, the reward for stumbling out of a warm and comfy bed.
I'm deep in a project that has not only bifurcated my brain, it has sucked up every last bit of decision-making ability. So, though indeed there are some new photos, and even some new thoughts about those photos, there isn't a new photo today. (This, btw, is the Cove. Not today.)
And at this point in time, that's a nuanced explanation.
It's (finally) cool here at the coast today, but up in the Santa Monica mountains, along a certain sun-struck path, a swath of wildflowers that were once as white as snowfall, are now a crispy, re-fried red.
We're drifting into the time of morning color, when overnight mist and fog give photons something to play with. This is the sun this morning, rising just slightly faster than that warming bank of clouds. It really did look like this:
And it really didn't look like this:
Or this. (That's just a scolding -- in such lovely language -- from the camera's sensor, asking we show what really was.)
A snag, that's what you call a dead tree that's left upright to decompose naturally. This one (I'm afraid to say just where lest a landscape crew gets suddenly trigger happy) plays host to everything from crows and hawks and hummingbirds to one of my favorite seasonal visitors, the white-tailed kite.
We woke to coastal fog so thick, the camera didn't seem all that useful. Within minutes of hitting the beach at 8 a.m. though, (hey, it's Sunday) things already looked like this:
And minutes later, it was this:
Then a swell rolled in and a tiny Labrador, obsessed with the ball, almost rolled out.
If this blog was scratch'n'sniff, you'd be breathing Eau de Wet Dog. (And yes, that's a lot of Maisie pix lately but, well, ummm, I can't really think of a good excuse.)
This sign's for the Santa Monica Mountains, but with local, national and international headlines these days, I'd say the bear is as much oracle as mascot.
When the Little Dog's panting gets louder than the fan up at the barn, we decamp for our other office, a patch of shade at Bluff's Park.
And I'm not the only one working hard:
So it started like this, morning clouds gilded by sun:
So pretty, we should see some more:
OK, just one more:
There was golden light on the mountains:
And three best friends, chatting it up at the lake:
It's a miracle the pelicans are still here, let alone how they earn their living, diving for fish from heights of up to 60 feet, their bodies buffered only by small air sacs under their skin. Hard work.
And then they surf, angled above the water, tilted to catch the breeze, riding the airfoil made by a breaking wave.
I'd go on again about miracles if it wasn't kind of obvious already.
It's the 5th year of the Pepperdine memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Prep work had been going on all week and the flags themselves went up late Saturday afternoon. In the past, dawn would break on September 11 and there would be the flags. This year, the display opened three days early.
Events include the annual Ride to the Flags, which starts at the naval base in Point Mugu and concludes at the Pepperdine lawn. This year's ride takes place on Sept. 16. From the web site:
It is with great honor that we at the White Heart Foundation announce our main beneficiary of the Ride to the Flags V - SFC Cory Remsburg.
SFC Remsburg served 10 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the elite Army Rangers. On his 10th tour, SFC Remsburg was severely injured by an IED blast and he suffered traumatic brain damage.
Having to relearn how to walk, he is in need of rehabilitation machines so that he may exercise daily at his residence once he completes his in-patient care at Casa Colina in Pomona.
SFC Remsburg has given so much for this country. Helping to afford these machines for him is the least we can do.
There's also a short prayer service at Pepperdine on Sept. 11. And for more about Ryan Sawtelle, the student who created Pepperdine's 9/11 tradition, click here.
One pickup truck, two voices -- the bright and breezy "Life's a Beach" versus David Byrne's existential "Same as it ever was."
Can't choose the shot to use from today's sunrise, which caught the downtown skyline in high relief.
The one where it's getting started?
The one with the pelican?
The one with the melty top?
There were more, lots more, and I stayed and watched for a long time.
Though four young great white sharks were tagged and released by scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in August, this year's shark season in the Santa Monica Bay closed without a viable candidate for the aquarium's exhibit, according to Ken Peterson, communications director for the aquarium.
We've concluded our 2012 white shark field season in southern California. This year, we've tagged and released four animals. None proved to be a candidate for exhibit in Monterey.
Colleagues with CSU-Long Beach and the Southern California Marine Institute - our Rapid Response Team - will still respond if a commercial fisherman accidentally nets a juvenile great white shark. Otherwise, we'll resume our field program next summer. If they haven't left already, the pen and purse seiner should depart Paradise Cove shortly.
This was the aquarium's 9th annual shark season, a project that has resulted in six 'young of the year' taking up residence in the great white exhibit. Of those six, all of whom were released, four survived and were tracked, one died when it was caught in a gill net, and one died soon after leaving the aquarium. Detailed info about those sharks is here.
The aquarium's great white shark exhibit is a huge draw, both for visitors eager to see the predators in person, and for criticism by animal activists, who say penning the sharks, even in the name of research, is inhumane. Here's the aquarium's main great white shark page, with links to its research, preservation and rescue efforts.
Meanwhile, on the left is John O'Sullivan, curator of field operations for the aquarium, and on the right is Chris Lowe, of the shark lab at CalState Long Beach, releasing a tagged juvenile great white in Santa Monica Bay on August 16.
It's the third year of low rainfall and the little lake here in the hills is shrinking. This bit of metal (it has something to do with water measurement) is usually submerged. Now, it's an egret's rest, the perfect perch for sunning, and for scanning the horizon.
First, ahhh, Malibu.
Next, traffic cops.
Maybe you're not at work today, but you know who is? A lot (a lot) of traffic cops all up and down PCH. Though chances are the roads here will be too clogged for speeding, if you do open up the throttle, the odds of getting an expensive ticket (particularly on the hill near Ralphs) are pretty good. So slow down. Open the windows, take a deep breath and drink in the view.
After the quietest of summers, a swell finally rolled in:
The people came:
Caught some waves:
And were very, very happy:
Once upon a time, Malibu's annual Chili Cookoff was announced like this, with a wonderful sign that was equal parts info and folk art:
Then one year, it became slightly less wonderful:
The next year, a lot less wonderful, but at least it looks like someone tried:
Unlike this year. Seriously?
The actual cookoff and carnival still look pretty much the same, thank goodness. All the info you need about this great event -- how to get here, where to park, what to expect, at the (very nice!) Kiwanis Chili Cookoff web site here.