While biking down the decaying Wharf No. 2, I come across an
awesome sight. Men in yellow slickers are shoveling truck loads
of snow into huge rhinos’ lunch boxes to pack mountains of
six-inch long sardines. Gargantuan trucks idle on the pier,
awaiting their loads.
From the womb of the rusting fishing boat, Lady L, (must mean
luck) hundreds of thousands of sardines are being sucked through
umbilical hoses and disgorged into a chute. From this chute a
gleaming silver waterfall of fish cascades into the awaiting
bins-on-wheels. The water at Lady’s belly is stained with blood.
“It’s a miracle!” I shout to anyone who’ll listen. “The sardines
are back.” I am stunned by the numbers of them – so many that
there are plenty of leftovers for the workers to toss to
Just then, a crusty old salt says, while adjusting the
suspenders that hold up his flagging jeans, “Oh, I remember the
days. I’m from a fishing family and they owned the Western
“You mean the boat that Doc Ricketts and John Steinbeck took to
the Sea of Cortez? Really?” I say, onto the story like barnacles
on a whale.
“Yup,” he says. “There was the time when . . .” and the yarns
unravel as I continue to marvel at the silver stream and the men
rushing madly to capture it and get it to market on ice.
Then my mind drifts to a sparkling summer day about 32 years ago
in this same place, where a lovely young girl, clad in jeans, a
burgundy sweater with the sleeves casually pushed up, and
Cleopatra style sandals – the kind with just a flat leather
bottom, straps and a gold chain threaded between the toes –
leaned against a pier piling on that same wharf. Her butt-length
brown mane was swept around her in the wind as she grinned for
He was in chino pants, an unbuttoned shirt and wearing a
headband and a big Chicolets grin. He was a ballet dancer built
exactly like Baryshnikov and an architecture student at the same
college where she was getting her teaching credential.
He taught her Haiku and gave her the book “Siddhartha.”
We were in love . . .
So many memories on Wharf No. 2 . . .