It’s no surprise that I have a deep connection with the city of Loreto in Baja California. Ten years ago I went to visit my girlfriend, Val Wilkerson, and left with a house, a decision that I have never regretted. Loreto sits perched at the edge of the Sea of Cortez against a backdrop of the craggy and towering Sierra de la Giganta. Marine and mammal life forms abound.
Loreto & the Sierra Giganta
Aside from it’s natural beauty, Loreto is home to some of the kindest people I have ever known. The original capital of California, the city grew from five founding families,and their descendants carry on on century old practices of family first.
Just before I had been introduced to Loreto, an organization to which I am now an advisor, The Ocean Foundation, had become an integral part of the development of Loreto Bay, billed as a sustainable community to the south of the city proper.
Sundays by the Sea … Shore bird chatter presses landward, layered against the backdrop of whirring hummingbird wings and the staccato call of the flashy yellow oriole. A few walkers. A few dogs. Temperatures in the low 70s. The color of sunlight plays amidst the palm fronds and the pink and red garden flowers. Yes … morning … Grateful I am to inhale your intoxicating air.
To the east, the mainland sends up a show of lightning. Bursts of reddish colors paint the undersides of thick storm clouds. Loreto is humid, but no rain or thunder for the moment.
The repaired lighthouse in the marina casts a welcoming green white light as the top spins in its glass housing, guiding mariners safely home.
Overhead, starts punctuate the space between the clouds. The low level of city or neighborhood lights provides enough dark sky to enjoy a palette of twinkling white. Distant suns and planets. The extension of our our small earth-based universe.
Suddenly, a larger break in the clouds, now backlit with white. A tiny crescent moon, bathed in shades of orange, casts a shimmering pathway across the surface of the Sea. It appears as if I could almost walk to Isla Carmen on a carpet of watery light.
Yes, sultry summer nights on the Sea of Cortez, as we step toward fall …..
Hurricane Blanca’s winds hit Loreto around 3am, easily waking me. Storm anticipation is a sure sleep-wrecker. The electricity went off / then on again. I pulled open the slider and shuddered at the power of the wind and the dark dark night. No stars nor moon could pierce the heavy cloud cover.
I walked out onto the beach – no rain yet, just strong winds and pelting sand. The seas were frothy in the muted light, a virtual blackened plane punctuated with surging waves and white caps. The sound of the wind, it’s force and the darkness, were unsettling. Already, the scent of mud-washed arroyos permeated the air.
At 4am, satellite imagery showed the now diminished hurricane bearing down on Puerto Cortez, the western tip of the peninsula before spreading into Bahia de Ulloa and Bahia San Juancio. The storm made landfall as a tropical storm around 8am Baja Sur time, with increasing winds and falling rain.
Blasting winds, steady at 25-34 mph with gusts clocked at 46 mph, bent trees and shrubs as morning spread her light, have kept birds fluttering for cover, and pelicans struggling to remain afloat in the storm driven seas.
Blanca still churns her energy slight south of Loreto – the lean of the palm revealing the location of the heart of the storm. Most recent imagery indicates that the bulk of the rain has been deposited, and what remains is a wildly windier afternoon.
This display of nature’s force fuels a celebration in me – as witness the power of wind and sea and storm – while remaining grateful, that from a Category 4 hurricane just 3 days ago, Blanca’s presence here in Loreto has been that of a Tropical Storm.
The thing about hurricanes is that you wait. You wait. And you watch. And you wait.
You watch the forecasts. You follow the track. You read winds and rainfall predictions. And you wait.
Hurricane Wind Pattern Stimulation with Speed Indicators – Sunday Afternoon
Satellite imagery: Hurricane Blanca June 7th, 1pm Baja Sur Time.
Increasingly accurate science guides minute by minute revised assessments. Aircraft fly into the heart of the storm, measure the winds, the barometric pressure … Weather crew assess surrounding patterns – how point of high and low pressure will affect the movement of the storm.
And you wait. A sunny morning grows cloudy. Then clears. Then darkens again. The rises. Then falls. You watch the tides. Time landfall land with wind speed predictions.
This time, this early .. Hurricane Blanca ‘appears’ to bear wind and rain, and will approach land as tropical storm, her energy spent as she enters cooler waters. A glancing blow. A prayer or two.
roosters crow in the distance … so blessed to be in space where i can hear their call to morning
dogs begin their own conversation one house to the next .. a woof/bark that reaches all the way to Buster, who adds his voice to the symphony of canine expression
in the hour before light, each sound echos across the flat basin that flows to the sea from the foot of the sierra
i hear the chatter of early beach walkers, their figures shrouded in the dark, their voices announcing their presence before i can make out their shadowy forms .. girl talk, boy talk, start the day talk.
the crunch of footsteps on the gravelly sand – the neighbors and their dogs out for morning ‘duties’
pre-sunrise light paints the sea and the sky with corals, periwinkle blues, deep reds and brilliant yellow gold
a pelican splashes
the wind begins to ruffle the surface of the tranquil sea
a cruise ship waits to unload their guests for an exploration of our small town of Loreto.
morning. wednesday. for those of us with breath, we begin again.