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Grey minivan people

Is there anything better in California than a day like today?

Todays lovely beach

Today's lovely beach

My sister told me that they were coming to visit (from the East Bay) and that they were planning to go to the beach for low tide. I like an excuse to get me to the beach. Perhaps it’s not this way for your family, but for my family, going to the beach always turns into a Big Thing. We need to get the sand toys, the towels, the snack, the sandals. Ten-year-old turns up ready to go in sneakers. No, sandals! He disappears. Mommy realizes that kids will get ridiculously hungry and thus blow up (after coming back from the beach) so she has to go pack a snack. We decide that maybe they will want to go boogie boarding. We find out that their wetsuits are six inches too short and they have to trade up. 7-year-old has to complain that her suit hurts her wrists. Amost-11-year-old is always convinced that he hates going to the beach…before we go.

Finally we get in the car, we drive past Seascape and La Selva, and we’re at the beach.

High Surf – No Swimming

Oh, well.

The beach was wide and gorgeous. Enormous waves were crashing far out and their wake was a smooth, wide spread of tantalizing water. The cousins were already up to their ankles. Then their knees. So much for high surf advisory.

My sister and I went for our walk. We got to marvel at the crazy houses people build on the cliffs, admire the various dogs, and look for sand dollars to take back to the kids.

Then my sister says, “What’s this?” She reaches down and jumps back as the unusual-looking thing reaches out towards her.

Our curious bivalve

Our barnacles

What it is, I cannot tell you. I have e-mailed the photo to the two marine biologists that I know. I can tell you it’s some sort of bivalve with a long foot and red lips. It seemed to sense my sister reaching for it, and then me. It reached toward us.

“Oh, should it be in the water?” she asked.

I said, “It would probably be happier there.”

We loaded it onto a piece of driftwood and my sister gave it her best Little League pitch out to sea. Plop, it went into the water, and then the wave retracted and there it was, on the sand. We hoped that the next wave would pull it in and we went on our way.

[Note: I have been told that they are gooseneck barnacles, a crustacean. They, along with lots of other unusual creatures, are being washed up by the storms.]

We got back to find the cousins working collaboratively on a canal system in the sand. They were focused and serious as only kids can be, when faced with a monumental task of no importance except for itself.

My editor at sends out an editorial calendar before each month starts. On it, they note the special features that they will have throughout the month – holidays, love-your-secretary weeks, that sort of thing. First on the calendar for February was Groundhog Day. I copied the text and e-mailed it to a fellow Californian Examiner. “We live in California, we don’t need Groundhog Day!”

No kidding.

The great thing about a winter like this is the punctuation of sunshine into the rainy days. A fine California winter is like a symphony: you have your downpours, your serene sunny days, your mudslides, and your happy ending.

Our happy ending was a glass of wine and a slice of cheese, Nana’s homemade bread, and the cousins getting along. It was a glorious day in California.

The beach, sun going down

The beach, sun going down

I’ve just realized why I called this blog entry “Grey Minivan People.” After we went to the beach I went to the library to pick up some books. I came back out into the parking lot, unlocked my car, and opened the front door.

From the back I heard, “Hello?’ in a teenaged voice.

Oops. Wrong grey minivan. I don’t know what this has to do with anything, but there it is…

Posted in Education, Parenting.

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