While living around the Monterey peninsula biking along the coast was a favorite way to see the landscape and enjoy the area. One defining memory of gliding along the shoreline was the roar and rush of waves as the Pacific attacked the rocky edge of the coast. With some large, pounding breakers and some gradual, lapping curves the ocean is eating away at the central California coast, turning it into sand that is deposited on the beaches of southern California. This process is far too slow to observe but the sounds associated with it are memorable, at times outstripping the human noise up and down the road running alongside. The brief pause as the water gathers itself, the rushing anticipation as the wave glides toward the shore, the “woomph” of the crash as liquid weight breaks against the solid rocks and the hissing as the sand and pebbles relinquish the water to return for the next assault.
I’ve never been a beach person, never understood the appeal of the sand, sunlight, lapping water and smell of suntan lotion. But the Pacific at Monterey is not a beach person’s seaside. It is not friendly to those who wish to languish by the water’s edge. It intimidates and challenges, daring the venturesome to approach and test it. Only the hardy dare get close (except for the sea otters, who laugh at the ocean as they go about their daily chore of abalone gathering or the pelicans who glide effortlessly along the wave fronts using the ground effect to swiftly carry them from one fishing ground to another). But the less hardy can appreciate the sound as it rolls from the water up onto the ground to envelope any who pause to take notice.
Several years on the Great Plains and I still miss that sound.
And now I’m moving to those inland oceans, the Great Lakes. And I’m finding that sound again, renewing my connection with the waters of the country. No, nothing like the pounding Pacific but nonetheless the same effect of anticipation, rush, crash and hiss.
Won’t ever be a beach person but I can still enjoy the sounds.