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Beach Environ Relived
By Bill Sorrells

The hot summer sun has baked the high tide line crispy, and it crunches as you stroll the sand, sensory memories from your youth relived and re-life-giving. It’s all different, but the same.

The ice plant on the banks below the houses, yellow and purple exploding across the underlying green, punctuated with ever present palms. The reef, then Bird Rock with its cement scars from the long forgotten pilings of the once proud pier. My mommy brought me here in ’37 to see the remains. Like my heroes and friends who’ve also gone, I prefer the pictures in my mind of the life that was.

The baby oil and iodine are no longer swathed on those curvaceous legs, but the SPF 30 doesn’t change the view. The one piece has osmosed into bikinis, but the fellas don’t complain. I could say a few disparaging words about the music emanating from those electronics on the blankets, but I keep my attention on the sounds of the sea and recall the barks of the seals that formerly gathered here.

The lifeguard tower still proudly stands conspicuously by the boardwalk, emblazoned on patches worn by lifeguards and cops, a symbol of Laguna, though remodeled and updated from a single telephone connecting the guarded coves to computer and electronics fresh from Silicon Valley and hard to understand by a guard from the ‘50s such as me.

The porch of the tower has disappeared along with those guards from the ‘50s who trod those 10” by 12” boards mounted on sawn telephone poles and the fresh from the surf kids lying below, hugging the warm sand, and learning valuable life lessons from that guard of guards Brennan Hev’s McClelland.
Mother Ocean still sends her tides high and low, at sundown, the sun still makes a golden path across the blue to its source and Catalina still sits on the horizon line, although no longer clearly visible, and tourists still stroll on the wet sand while the natives walk the hot dry grains. The seagulls still fight for the tourists’ lunches, caw as they fly, cover Bird Rock with telltale white and scooch out of the way of the pelicans.
Toddlers still scurry from the oncoming foamy white and shriek as the retreating water seems to carry them with it.
The body surfers do as we did, barrel rolling and flipping out, while the board surfers on boards smaller and maneuverable than were ours, tease the surf and gyrate top to bottom, displaying skill unknown in the day.
The thunk of a volleyball draws my attention to the courts where lithe and athletic bodies perform as we wish we could and there, waiting to play next, my 65 year old brother defying the prejudice of age with knowledge, skill, and expertise.
An oncoming wave’s spent fury sends suds and water to fill the moat of the young teen’s castle, distinguished by the city white of their complexions and the telltale redness of their cheeks and chest, a two page event for “What I did on my summer vacation.”

One last inhale of the seaweed gifts left by the high tide and I pack away my time enduring sense memories and join the crowd on the freeways to return to the smog filled city and the great outdoors of my porch drawing what birds I can with seed from the 99-cent store and a little fluoride from the water pipes of the Valley.
After living in Los Angeles, Bill Sorrells recently returned to the town where he grew up.


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