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Walking Ritual

From the BookShelf Writers

The BookShelf Writers consist of four Estero Bay women who have been writing and critiquing together for over five years. For more samples of their work, please visit www.the bookshelfwriters.com

Each issue, this column will feature one of the BookShelf Writers: Debbie Black, Catherine “Kiki” Kornreich, Judy Salamacha and Susan Vasquez.

July 30, 2021

Story and photos by Susan Vasquez

Have you ever looked out the window and wondered if you should postpone taking a walk because of what you saw?

Today, you see two views. One, sunny and brilliant, encourages your feet. The other tells you in dark clouds and gloom to grab a good book and stay inside. But as you are looking, a rainbow spreads over the sky standing out against the brightness and the overcast, making your confusion even more perplexing. Would it rain? Had it already? Rain, that ever-present dilemma. You never get enough here, and would gladly delay the walk for a nice inch or two of moisture.

birds

Of course, you follow that daily ritual of taking a walk. And, of course, the weather goes with you. Down to the beach, one side of the sky is filled with brilliant sunshine and the other is a flip-side of dark threatening clouds. Threatening what, you ask yourself? Sometimes threats are really just promises hiding in over-used expressions. More rain would be a blessing, even if you had to wade through a downpour.

Still, this hope for rain doesn’t make you wish for it right here and now. Would the rain wait until you finish your walk? Nature doesn’t care about your dry feet, so you aren’t sure at all. Even so, that doesn’t make you turn around and head for safety. Why would it? Sandals and socks, your ever-ready walk companions, aren’t at all picky. You’ve never cared if the ocean’s tide baptizes your feet. Rain-soaked socks are the same, just without the ocean’s salt.

The dunes greet you with a place to pause for a moment. You sit on a perfectly-placed contemplation bench and invite yourself to relax for as long as the rain stays away. Or, longer even.

But you don’t stay more than a few minutes this time because there is a crowd of night herons on the beach that rise in unison and urge you on. They are tenacious birds. They line up diagonally along the wave line, facing the wind as the weather begins to change from coolly invigorating to perhaps cold and rainy. They might change their behavior with the weather, but they don’t consider leaving as you might. Brave creatures they are, staying close to the tide and waiting out the drop in air temperature from 65 degrees F to 62. Living along this coast, where birds and humans alike discard the notion of seasonal migration, is a funny reminder that you live in a bubble of weather bliss.

There is still the promise of rain. Even in a temperate climate, getting wet is still getting wet. At one point in the walk, the sky literally splits, with one side blue and the other cloudy gray.

Did you get enough rain this season? How long since you tiptoed through mud puddles? Was it last year or the year before? Most of your walks now are dry, drought walks. You can face the ocean and try to forget the view at your back. Those blanched hillsides may seem to disappear while the salt water cleans your face and the over-powering waves seem to have abundant moisture. But you and your socks still hope for rain and the glorious life springing up from a wet earth.

Before the walk ends, the threat comes true. Your glasses are spotted with raindrops. You remember how important hats are having forgotten yours for the hundredth time. You feel the dampness seeping into the socks-and-sandals you are lucky enough to wear every day.
Here you are, relishing the bit of rain in central California. More, please.

Susan Vasquez is a member of The BookShelf Writers.
To see more of her work, please visit www.thebookshelfwriters.com

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