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Innocent Tempest


All morning there has been talk of a storm coming. The changing sky affirms it. The blue brightness is shifting to a heavy purple/gray. I head out to get something to eat before the winds kick up. The alerts suggest avoiding unnecessary travel after 3pm.

Turning left at the top of Laneda street, I head toward Manzanita Grocery, I can see in the distance the unmistakable movement of the ocean’s white tempest. The intimacy of it brings a swell of excitement that feels like admiration. Laneda is bustling with a dwindling crowd of Sunday shoppers. A man balancing his dog and a tray of three coffees, four teenagers crowding around a cell phone, a woman looking up at me from the bench. Lifting my eyes for another look, I see the rising waves, the storm gathering in the distance.

Something is emerging.

I have been sensing my own, less visible emergence, keeping watch at my water's edge, lest I lose my footing and spill out onto shore. Oh, to be so innocent as the sea! Oh to be so free of hesitation.

Part of my excitement is a sense of intimacy. I have a sister in that white water, mirroring a kind of aliveness. She has become a storming, a taking over of space with more energy and clarity than any in her path.

I drive to the place we usually park for our beach walks, but stay in the car this time, as I eat my lunch of day-old chicken (she gave me a discount. It had been under the heat lamp all afternoon).

A handful of birds stand together, crowded on the only remaining 10 foot patch of sand which, under normal weather conditions, stretches for many wide miles. Then in one great flash of white water, they are sky bound, dancing for a moment, black specks peppering the wild whiteness, then gone from sight. Nature shifts the landscape and all those within it without permission or apology. It is one great dance. Enthralled or oblivious, we move or we are moved.

A "high surf alert" suggests that storm watchers keep a safe distance until the ocean is settled back into herself. 'Onlookers could lose their footing on the nearby jetties', says the alert. And losing one's footing can be lethal, unless you're a bird, ready to pepper the sky!





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