By Drew Green
It is dawn on a Sunday. The cold, metal railing seems to the draw the line between wild and civilized, dividing groomed, green grass from unkempt and restless waters. Up above, seagulls hasten to make their morning dives, squawking in their pursuit of crabs and fish, hoping to snag something fresh before the sun rises. As they break the glasslike surface of the water, a new world is briefly revealed to them, as much separate from as it is tied to their own. A sea lion glides past, curious of the feathered disturbance to its breakfast routine. The beast flies effortlessly through the obsidian murk, dipping and diving, reveling in the occasional catch. Once the fish is caught, the creature flicks it into the air, as if playing a game of aquatic basketball. The animal’s play inspires a nearby photographer to… “CLICK” The shutter of a Canon 5D slams down, and this moment is freed from the fleeting nature of time.
They never stay on the bluff for long, the photographers. The frigid offshore wind shoos them and their beanies along the path and eventually back to the refuge of their cars. As the photographer pulls out, his space is taken by a red VW van.. The owner knows the icy water is warmer than the air around him. A neoprene-clad foot steps out from behind the scarlet door, across the manicured grass, and past the railing; casually leaving the uniform parking spaces, grid-paper grass, and engineered symmetry of the apartment building behind it. The man steps down the jagged Torrey sandstone, and sits down on the damp, worn ledge that has been the seat of many a patient water-goer. With fins on, he casts off as water rushes up onto the thawing rocks around him.
Rocks that have been here for eons. Sometimes the rocks are friendly. Most times they are not. Occasionally they shift and clamor with excitement, when the waves get too big. Today the rocks just wait, immersed in the constant energy of the surf. Energy that has travelled long and far to deliver its fatal blow on this ragged coastline. All of the members of the morning cast feel it. The sea lion is lifted from its hiding place in the kelp, the gulls evacuate their roost on the once-calm surface, the man dives deep into the blue. While submerged, he pauses to look back through the vertical pane of water as it stands up on the reef. He sees the distorted form of the apartment building, complemented by a row of crooked parking spaces, a furry swath of green grass, and a twisted, gray railing.