I heard it before I saw it, a bird fight in the little copse of trees at the entrance to the Cove. First, a crow's cawcawcaw, that shrill alarm that rallies the troops. Then a hawk flew through, low and slow, a broken field run, its wings too wide to glide in that cramped space. Crows gathered. The braver ones dove at the hawk's head, came close but veered clear at the last moment. The hawk just waited, hopped from branch to branch, screamed once, for show, it seemed, not too perturbed. A moment after I shot this frame, the hawk flew free, rose high, higher still, buoyed up by an ocean breeze.
Coyotes hunt in this field just west of the library. Deer graze here. Depending on the time of day or year, you can see hawks and ducks and geese and herons. Occasionally an artist would install life-size sculptures - early man discovering fire as a horse, caught in mid-gallop, circled around him. And now (because seriously, what else is there to do in life?) more shopping is on the way.
The moment the driver closed the pickup door and vanished into the maw of the Cross Creek Starbucks this morning, this little dog kept vigil. He turned his head just once as I shot these pix and really, he doesn't look at all amused.
My earliest memories are of gardens, kitchen gardens with herbs and vegetables, flower gardens with sweet-smelling old-fashioned plants. Lily of the valley, bearded iris, night-blooming jasmine, stock and phlox and climbing roses. Everywhere we lived, my mother made a garden. Everywhere I've lived, I've made one too. This vegetable garden's the biggest challenge yet, carved from the same clay earth that May Knight Rindge, queen of the Malibu (and I say that in the most respectful way; if it weren't for May, Malibu would be one big railroad bed) used for her gorgeous Malibu tiles. I'm planting corn and sunflowers, peppers and artichokes, marigolds and pumpkins and watermelon. The bunnies and gophers watch and laugh. They write out shopping lists, plan menus, take bets on how quickly they can decimate my crop. Last year, they succeeded. This year, we're digging a trench, burying chicken wire, making a three-foot fence, wishing the coyotes luck in the hunt and generally hoping for the best.
This strange spring storm took the local hummingbirds by surprise. During winter rains they'll stay under cover, doze in a state of torpor, their high-octane engines stilled. But today, in the wet and cold, they flock to the feeders. Dozens of them are perched in the wisteria right now, sheltered in the eaves of the barn. They stay even as I move among them and add more food. They crowd me, bump my hand, brush my cheek, chatter as as I re-hang the feeder. They drink, and I retreat from the pounding rain.
Looks like Pepperdine grads are getting their send-off from none other than Laura Bush this year. The First Librarian is sked to give the commencement address on Saturday, April 28. (Recent 'best-of-luck-in-the-real-world' speeches have been delivered by TV pitchman and former Nixon speechwriter, Ben Stein, and Ken Starr, dean of the law school and quite a wordsmith in his own right.)
Traffic and parking in town are challenging on commencement weekends. Factor in Mrs. Bush et al and who knows...
Only Wednesday and already, lots of news. Of course it all depends on your notion of news.
And then there's little news. Incremental news.
Or this, my one-time kitchen. The first thing I saw Monday on return from a long weekend in the land of frozen cherry blossoms, Washington, DC.
Close to 1,000 people packed the hearing room yesterday during a marathon meeting about the Cabrillo Port LNG project, the liquified natural gas terminal that Australian mining behemoth BHP Billiton Ltd so badly wants to anchor off the Malibu and Oxnard coasts. The Lands Commission voted 2-1 against awarding a lease to BHP, agreeing with residents' concerns over environmental damage and safety.
"We're ecstatic," said Susan Jordan, director of the California Coastal Protection Network, which provided the shirts and helped organize the opponents. "This effectively kills it."
Here's a little piece about the vote in BusinessWeek:
The 30-year lease considered by the three-member State Lands Commission would have granted BHP the right to build, operate, use and maintain the pipelines. The plan called for subsea lines, which would be laid about 100 feet apart, to be about 23 miles long but only cross about 4 1/2 miles of California land before reaching Ormond Beach in Ventura County.
Without the subsea pipelines, the terminal would essentially be inoperable.
Commission Chairman John Garamendi, who is also the lieutenant governor, said he voted against awarding the lease permit because "serious questions remain about the project's safety and its potential impact on the environment."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has veto power over the project, but cannot overturn the commission's decision about the pipeline lease. He has not made a decision on what he'd do should the project move forward.
The LNG terminal would be 14 stories high and the size of three football fields, would play host to a constant conga line of diesel-belching supertankers, and would itself spew an annual 200 tons of smog-inducing pollutants into the air. If a fire broke out, it could flash-fry everything within a seven-mile mile radius with a single flaming vapor cloud.
There's lots more (like the fact the plant, located just outside the border of the ecologically sensitive Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary, would dump millions of gallons of hot sea water into the Pacific each day) so if you're interested, click here to see what drives the opposition.
Hydrangea in the window.
So, those story poles?
Here's what the developer is promising - a rustic town square with rolling oak woodlands and a pond. No crowds, no traffic, no unsightly parking lots. A retail fairy tale.
Archer took his first steps at the Malibu Pie Festival last year.
He hasn't slowed down since...
(Even more Archer)
I suppose it's possible to infer from the photos on this blog that Malibu consists of two things - a beach at sunrise, or yet another set of evil story poles destroying the natural landscape. Crackerjack reporter that I am, it's time to share a stunning fact - we have mountains here. Beautiful, wild mountains that split the city of LA in half and make getting to the coast a bit of an effort.
Yesterday, in the spirit of full disclosure, I took the dogs to Solstice Canyon Park, a lovely wilderness area tucked into the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. It's cool and leafy green, with tall trees, a small creek, caves, waterfalls and miles and miles of trails. (And very few parking places, so unless you get there early or enjoy a good fight, don't expect to be able to get out of your car.) Luck was with me. I got the very last parking place and the dogs and I had a long, relaxing walk along the creek. We saw quail and hawks and monarchs, lizards and a snake and a fish. And if my luck holds, that thatch of vines Jake raced through right before rubbing against my bare legs wasn't actually poison oak.