Notes from Monterey, California, October 1-5.
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The center exhibit is the Kelp Forest, a replica of the forest in the Monterey Bay. The kelp seems denser than I’ve seen at other visits. A lecturer explained that it has slowed growing in height due to the season.
A giant sea bass suspends itself in front of one window, as if posing for photographs.
I admired the many varieties of fish in the bay, especially the graceful leopard sharks, the colorful senoritas, and a silver school of anchovies moving as one large fish.
The diver feeding the fish successfully tempts the ferocious-looking wolf eel from its cave. He is glad that the eel emerged. They are shy creatures, he explained.
At the Touch Pool, a bat ray swims to me and rises out of the water. Does it want a touch or caress? If so, I missed my chance with one of the Lords of Life. I did not reach out to it.
The aquarium is doing research on the mysteries of the deep, and I am glad to know that one of the vessels doing deep sea work is named The Doc Ricketts, named for the famous marine biologist who worked on Cannery Row.
I attend three short lectures, illustrated by video presentations, in the auditorium: the life of the great white shark; three migratory animals to the Baja Peninsula who pass through Monterey Bay (the gray whale, the brown pelican, and the elephant seal); and the mysteries of the deep. They are well-presented and well-attended. The focus of each lecture is the mission statement of the aquarium, the protection of the ocean.
At the Open Ocean exhibit, I especially enjoy watching the inquisitive hammerhead shark, the regal dolphin fish, the lazy sunfish, and the speedy and powerful black skipper jack.
Part of the aquarium is dedicated to the history of the canneries of the area. The aquarium uses one of the buildings of an old cannery. Through videos and readings, the observer learns about the sardine industry and its importance in its time. A corner of this area is devoted to Ed Rickett’s work and laboratory and his fictional representation by Steinbeck in the novels Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.
At a restaurant on Cannery Row.
The clam chowder tastes strongly of the sea, a potent, virile taste, strong, and not for the pampered palate.
At San Carlos Beach.
A group of children playing a game directed by a young man is so involved in play that they miss the breach of a gray whale in the bay beyond.
I sit on a bench in warm sun, thankful for my light jacket for cool breezes coming from the bay. There is the lapping of small waves. There is a salt smell from the bay. I welcome both. I have missed them.
At the statue of Santa Rosalia.
She is the patron saint of Italian fishermen. She stands, left leg slightly forward, looking toward the ocean. She is heavily robed and caped. A wind is evidently blowing from the sea. Her left hand holds a cross and is folded across her chest. Her right hand is to her side, and she holds a Bible. Near her right foot is the image of a skull. From the perspective of the statue, I know the meaning of harbor, a place of protection and safety, leading from the sea of probable danger.
A gingko tree.
For some reason, I am surprised to see a gingko tree, half-turned gold. I do not become nostalgic about gingkos and their role in my life. I recognize the need to experience the tree now, only in the now, though doing so was not easy.
There are many candy stores, more than I’ve remembered: in town, on the Row, on the wharf. I wonder why. I enter one, but the cloying smells of taffy and fudge turn me away, almost nauseated.
At Cafe Fina, on the wharf.
I sit at a window table that looks down at the bay. The clear light in the sky at dusk reflects white on the dark water of the bay. The white-black water moves inward at a gentle roll. Reflected light from the shops above the bay shine shimmering blue, silver and gold. The moon rises, a white-orange waxing crescent moon in dark sky.
This Week’s Note to Eva.
Last week, Eva, I was able to visit one of my favorite places, Monterey, California. It was good to be at the bay and to enjoy walks by the sea. I thought of you. Your friend, Bill
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Shane Clairborne and Michael Martin. Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence. Brazos Press, 2019.
I saw the book reviewed in Friends Journal: Quaker Thought and Life Today. The book is a lamentation, an analysis, and a method of nonviolent solution to the crisis of gun violence in the United States.
Interspersed in the text are eighteen pages entitled “Memorial to the Lost,” recounting recent mass shootings and listing those who died in them.
There is a history of gun ownership, a discussion of the “gun empire,” a discussion of the changes in purpose and activity of the NRA, a warning about idolizing guns, a “mythbusting” section in which arguments for gun ownership and use are systematically debunked, a cautionary note about the effect of fear in our lives, and a consideration of what a Christian’s response should be to gun violence.
It is a timely and important book.
Thank you for reading. I welcome comments, posted here or in an email to me.