27 June 2000

If You Are Squeamish...

If you are squeamish, don’t prod the beach rubble. –Sappho

12 June 2000

I Hope The Whales Can Forgive Us

You have to let people be right from time to time, it’s their consolation for not being anything else. – Andre Gide, The Immoralist

There are two beached whales on Ocean Beach. It’s not a common site on this particular stretch of the California coast. It made headlines on the 10 o’clock news, mixed with fairly remarkable footage of whales migrating. The woman newscaster’s voice relays the possible causes of the whale’s deaths while a scene of young boys poking objects into and further mutilating the magnificent beasts runs as backdrop. Cut to real time footage of college co-eds, inebriated and stupid, building bonfires near the dead animals.

“Let the dead be dead,” I think.

A few months ago, Cassie and I took an early morning walk on Muir Beach. Past a rocky point was a dead, beached whale. A few people had discovered the animal as we had and had climbed over the rocks to get closer to the spectacle. I did the same, with camera in hand. I’d never seen a whale’s teeth before, so up close and personal, and frankly I was mesmerized, humbled and in awe. I wished I had some sense of its life so that I could quietly honor it with references that carried some weight and meaning for it. I could not. After all, it could have been a “very bad whale,” doing things which left the other whale’s aghast and it’s possible that the day it took its wrong turn and met its demise the other whales might have knowingly thought, “I told you one day he’d get his comeuppance.” But to me, this whale, lying tangled amidst the boulders and breaking waves, looked peaceful and innocent and I was filled with a mournful pause. It’s as though everything cumulated into a shallow breath and the truth of history didn’t matter – just the right then.

I have a peculiar interest in sea animals. As a kid, through a strange series of events, my family would winter in Mexico – Matzatlan, Zihuatineo and finally and most frequently Manzanillo. Us kids were required to take Spanish in school and each became the favorite of our Spanish teacher, Senor Saucedo. At one point I had some fluency, but lost it overtime through lack of use and exposure. When you neglect things, they abandon you.