December 31 .. The last day of 2010.

Sunrise, Sea of Cortez, December 31, 2010

Last day, last sunrise of 2010.

Woke earlier than usual : 4:00 AM and what to do. Sleep filled and nothing left but to meditate and greet the new day in darkness.  Poured hot coffee and savored the quiet.  A crescent moon lingered with Saturn clinging to its sphere.  NASA reporting storms on the ringed planet .. new information on how things in the planetary world are created.

All the dogs come for morning treats, and still it’s dark.  They chew, I sip .. and then I give it over.  The hint of light coming from behind the island beckons me.  I tie the laces on my shoes, grab the camera and off we go, down the long beach toward the distant point.

The air is chilled and the wind still from the WSW as it has been for days.  The sea has been strange with this blow.  The beach houses block the wind right at the waters edge, creating surreal glassy pools, while just beyond the roof lines, ripples fan out toward the island and the open water.

The seabirds have been luxurious. Terns, cormorants, grebes, egrets, herons, an osprey .. pelicans, boobies, gulls, sandpipers, marbled godwits, sanderlings, lesser yellow legs.  As if everyone has come to celebrate the end of the year.  Even the dolphin have moved closer in the shallows, savoring the small bait fish that swim nearer to shore.

Estuary at Dawn

At the edge of the sea, and running westward to the Pacific, lies the gorgeous extremes of the Baja desert.  Dry and subtropical on the eastern shores, the climate and plantlife are part of the Sonoran region, a part of one of the the largest and hottest deserts in North America.  Tall cardon, a relative of the saguaro cactus stand like tall sentries amidst mesquite and paloverde trees.

Estuaries are common on the eastern shores, with wading birds in wild variety and large numbers.  Migratory birds, such as the Arctic Tern, make use of Baja for their winter home.

Buster and I walked into the morning light, solitary figures on the long stretch of beach that spreads north from town.  We walked for over an hour with not a single person in sight, but plenty of heron, egrets, pelicans and cormorants.

Heron gliding northward along the beach.

The squawk of the heron as Buster flushed him from the shallows echoed down the sandy shoreline. He landed again and again, only to pick up his wings again as we grew closer.

Finally, the sun slipped up behind the edge of Isla Carmen in a beautiful – if not momentary – display of color – before tucking behind a bank of clouds. We turned back toward home. I was thinking coffee … Buster was thinking dog treats.

Buster leads the way on our morning walk.

So began the last day of the year .. Filled with gratitude for all that has come to us, all the experiences, all the learning .. the friendships, the adventures, the joys, the challenges and the successes.


Christmas at Picazone

Christmas Day, 2010, Loreto, BCS.

Dawned with north east breezes, clear skies and crisp temperatures.  Shared hot coffee and Christmas cookies with Jeff Kahan who had stopped for a couple of days on his journey south to La Ventana.  We took a long beach walk and let the fresh sea air waken us into the sacred holiday before he took off to meet his friends.

First on my agenda was a Buster bath!  Oatmeal soappy and fresh and soft dog fur.  I combed/brushed/cut out sand knots and ended with a blow dryer that left him looking like a show dog! Then, the jingle bell collar went on and he was ready for our outing.

The evening meal had been arranged by Jill Jackson for a private Picazone feast. What a treat! 3o or so family and friends who trekked to the far point on the water overlooking Coronado Island.

We gathered on the couches, sipped cocktails and wine and stories of Christmas past, fishing (there is always a fishing story or two in Mexico), travels, and adventures. We all reflected on how lucky we felt to be in such a special location under the kind and watchful care of Alejandro, Imelda, Alex Jr., and Diego.  They have carved a magical space out of small chunk of seaside desert with their tony restaurant, Picazone.  I would have to say it is a must see/do in any Loreto vacation planning.

Prior to dinner, Rick Jackson had set up his camera on the beach and was doing spontaneous Christmas portraits.  Buster, all fluffy fur, demanded that we have our picture taken.

With a first course of onion soup, the stage was set .. along with the dramatic backdrop of sky colors shifting from blues to sunset hues.  I helped light the beautiful bank of drip candles atop spent wine bottles.  Alejandro eventually used one for each table, the soft light spilling across the colorful clothes and warmly lighting the faces of friends.  Gravy laden turkey plates arrived next .. each with a side wondrous cheese potatoes.   Is there a word for ‘happy mouth’?  My tastebuds were pleased, my heart filled with the warmth of friendship that continues to spread and build in this small community.  Such luck.. such wonder.  Such a special Christmas day.

after the longest night

the sun crested the isla carmen one minute earlier this morning : 7:14 instead of 7:15 .. yes, the shortest day and longest night have passed … there must be a metaphor in this.

the air is still and warm. no waves and hardly a ripple on the water. i find this magical, as i continue to drink in living in such close proximity to the water .. a constant that defies my emotional ups and downs, the comings and goings of friends, the wild off-road racer revving his engine somewhere in the distance, the cock-a-doodle do, and the grazing of cattle on the flowers and trees in my garden. i wish i could craft a plan – to do something more to protect her, to nourish her .. as i write that, i remind myself to listen .. that the messages are always present, it’s merely plucking one or the other from the chorus ..

a pelican dives for fish. his splash is another of the sounds that burn into my memory bank. yesterday hundreds of blue-footed boobies diving in formation like fighter planes .. my joy expands ..

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Full Moon Eclipse, 21 December 2010

Winter solstice … the shortest day of the year .. and the longest night .. began with a total eclipse of the moon. The simultaneity of events has happened on only one winter solstice since the year 1 (that’s a very long long time ago) in 1638. The next occurrence is more than 200 years in the future. I’ll leave notes for my great-great-great-great grandchildren 🙂

I was lucky enough to be in clear sky perfect location for the event. The evening was cool, a Baja winter setting in for late December. I laid on the beach and watched the moon shift form brilliant white in a black sky to a rusty red color, all the craters and meteor impacts revealed in a softer palette. The black sky opened to star fields that surrounded the red orb, and shooting stars carried trails of shimmering crimson and gold that seemed to linger like spent fireworks.

I could say .. ahhhhhhh .. a few hundred times, and not nearly express the full impact of the evening.

Wings & Wonder

The sky ablaze this morning with 60 or so vultures, circling, searching. What has died? What is about to die? Joining the fray, a Magnificent frigate bird, his long lanky body with split tail stark against the chunky vulture bodies. As they continued to swirl, a lone red tail hawk joined the sky born dance. Similar in size, in their silhouette against the sun, he was almost hidden, except for a distinctive wing formation and different soaring/flapping pattern. Soon, more vultures, another frigate bird and the sky was bird bird bird … and then gone. Whatever they had hoped for or sensed, had scurried deep into the stark desert landscape, and the winged ones dispersed.

Egret in the shallows

Yesterday on our early dog walk, one of the ‘resident’ egrets fished the estuarian inlet near the house.  While the dogs played, I sat on the side of the water watching the tall white bird hunt for tiny fish trapped by the tidal flow.

In the desert it seems, it is bird life that is most obvious.  Their appearances at all times of the day and weather remind me of the mysteries of life, the magic of flight .. the dreams of Icarus.