So much meaning in this ever-evolving atmosphere: cool, moist & overcast. Moderately warm and still. Large cold raindrops stinging my face...numerously, wonderfully. So much heaven on this earth. Brown pelicans bring all sense of movement to a standstill when they waft north. I salute them, barely blinking eyes, marvel as they skirt cliffs in small v-formations and cast celluloid shadows onto cliff faces. Grace defined. Heads tucked back, pterodactyl wings indifferently outstretched.

Crows that are usually paired foreground dense white clouds. Desert-like cliff-faces undulating against varying cloud. Light gray, dark blue, light blue with dense white mushrooming, ever-evolving moisture. A lone egret alights and waits on a cliff’s edge. Its neck plumes wave in a slight breeze. I hold my breath to catch that moment in still shot as it heads north, tired of my gaze and wonder and approach. Rocks slanted toward the east seem to have been placed there by an artist’s hand: gray with ringlets of orange and paintbrush streaks of white. So much beauty! True, wild beauty that does not analyze, disappoint, speak directly, make rational decisions.

At the moment that has not been for as long as I can reach back. There, stands utterly alone, a great blue heron. I tiptoe toward it so carefully. Barely breathing. Photograph it every four to five steps. Carefully. “Please, don’t go. Please, do not go.” “Please, don’t go. Please, please, pleeeeeese do not go. I won’t hurt you...” I plead with the universe. It faces me. For at least 12 beats, it gives me a chance. Then resolves, instinctually, and gallantly, to head north. I watch it wistfully and happily as it lands near sunbathing cormorants.

I wade into the cold, dunk my head. How painfully I have forgotten the saltiness of the Pacific. It alarms before it comforts. Beneath the surface: a spider crab’s skull; countless coral skeletons; snails in purple, white, and orange shells; an unknown creature--white and spongy with hard white cheek bones. So much is clear now. Even if so many natural mysteries remain mysteries.

Who needs crampons to ascend Mt. Baldy? Heehee ouch ahhhhhuuuhhhhhOMGarrrghhfuckuuuhhhh!!!