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Gratitude

Labor Day, the first glimpse of fall and a merry sun has gobbled up the nasty summer fog. I am elated. Thus, I set out on foot for the walking trail that extends from Spanish Bay to Bird Rock in Pebble Beach.

Bliss!

The ocean competes with the sky for who is bluest. Waves arch their white necks and spit at the tourists who venture too close at the “Restless Sea” turnout. It’s only 10 a.m. and people are out en masse.

As I plunder the sandy path that cuts past the wizardly green golf course and little lake with placidly bobbing mallards, I have a thought: People who criticize the Peninsula as not having enough “culture” are snobs. It may be on a smaller scale than New York or Los Angeles, but there’s nothing you can’t get here - and without getting your purse snatched on a muni bus (as I did on my first and last trip to the Big Apple).

You want multiculturalism? Just walk up to any tourist and offer to take their picture. Today I’ve chatted with an East Indian family and a couple – first time to America – from the Netherlands.

Japanese, Chinese, Nigerian, Chilean, Australian . . . people flock here for the natural beauty.

Who says we don’t have opera? Placido Domingo is no stranger to this place.

How about celebrity? More than you can shake a stick at. (If you’re the English teacher who once reprimanded me for my dangling preposition – don’t bother again. Or, was that a participle?). Why, my book StarWords is filled with them (stars, not participles), not the least of whom is Clint Eastwood who owns Pebble Beach.

Got music? Heck, yeah. Two superb symphonies and every festival from the blues to reggae. Good dining? You can eat your way from Seaside to Carmel and never lack for excellence and variety. Culinary festivals bring world class chefs. Etcetera, etcetera.

OK, so we don’t have the Louvre. However, we have smaller excellent museums, a dizzying array of art galleries and some of the finest artists on earth. Know why? Because anyone with a passion for what is beautiful either rents, or has a first, second or third home here.

Read my book. The Baranovs settled here from Moscow and are the world’s only couple who paints on the same canvas simultaneously.

Now I’m at a spot on the path where surfers are tap dancing on the waves beyond. A sandy-haired deeply-suntanned boy grabs a board from his SUV and scurries across the rocks to join his brethren as a squadron of prehistoric pelicans casts shadows on the sunlit foam below.

As I pause to sketch out a face in the sand – hair of kelp, eyes of stone - I am filled with gratitude at managing to eke out an artistic living here for more than 30 years.

Yesterday, as I paused on my bike to watch surfers at Asilomar Beach, a young couple walked past.

“Nice day, huh?” the boy in the wetsuit said.
“Sure is,” I said, pointing to six kites aloft.
“I get to come down here every now and then,” he said.
“Nice. I just live around the corner for 35 years,” I answered.
“Thanks to your hard work, no doubt,” he said.
“Actually, thanks to my father’s,” I said, stunning him.
“Smooth move,” he said.
And I wheeled off, feeling ever the snob myself . . .

 

 

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