Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here we go again

Just when we think we're really part of the 21st century here in Big Sur (cell phones, satellite TV, internet cafés under the redwoods) Mother Nature comes along and whompers us.

This is what She did last week, the day before St. Paddy's Day. The fields and mountains in Big Sur are shamrock green, while the earth is wet and getting wetter with the Spring storms. Last Wednesday the southbound lane on Highway One, between Rocky Creek and Bixby Bridge, collapsed in magnificent fashion, beginning a decisive slide down a 200' sandy cliff towards the sea.

I snapped the photo above while crossing over the danger zone the morning after the event, carrying bags to our car in the bright cold sunlight on the "other side". Since it's a tiny dinosaur of a cell phone camera, I had to get very close to the buckling asphalt, to the concern of those around me.

"Honey, it's not a screen-saver," my husband said. Wait, holding a camera makes you a superhero, right? Walking back across the damaged road without shielding myself with technology, the scene somehow became more real.

I asked the two gentleman standing above the gaping hole that was once a highway, "So when are the engineers showing up to fix this?" "Engineers don't fix things, we fix things!" they said emphatically.

"What about putting in a one-lane road over there?" Playing the know-it-all local, I pointed to the empty flat space next to the northbound lane. "It's not so stable," replied the Sheriff standing nearby. So I jumped up high, landing firmly on the pavement, just to see what would happen. "Good thing you're little" they said and we all had a good laugh in the early morning sunshine.

Those of us who were here for 1998's El Niño season remember months of an impassable highway, reduced employment, insanely long "town runs" for supplies. And yet, in light of recent global events, this one just doesn't feel like such a hardship.

"Hardship" is defined as "a condition that is difficult to endure; suffering; deprivation; oppression". What we are experiencing here, (as a friend said wisely as we conferred at the Post Office yesterday) is “inconvenience”.

It's dark, stormy, and cold this morning, but there is a songbird singing in the wet woods beside our house, high true notes, as if it were warm and sunny outside, singing for his mate, to help build his nest and comfort him on the coming summer evenings.

Did I say it was cold? People are beginning to get concerned with filling their propane tanks, and grateful for the wood they've held onto over the winter months. Fortunately, I am one of those who still find it romantic to build a fire. We are living like quasi-gypsies: flashlights, vitamins and overnight bags in the car, ready for a sleepover somewhere other than home, due to a downed tree, power line or slide.

Fields of lupin and poppies are on the way, early spring Daffodils are drooping but beautiful. A symphony of happy frogs, birdsong and pouring rain: it's Spring in Big Sur!

Itty bitty pictures taken by Linda Sonrisa on her cell phone


Anonymous said...

Thanks Linda, I was wondering what it must be like. You put it in perspective very well.

Love Peter

SurToby said...

Again, dearest Linda... you capture a moment in our Big Sur life that is so unique and you insert personal moments and sounds, sights and event tastes into something that reach out to us all.