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.
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
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
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
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 . . .