I'm sitting here, drinking coffee, listening to the rain, and watching the white ocean surge and foam below me. Even where the water is clear of foam it is white. The sand is a grainy dark yellow or brown with dark and light patches. It looks like a mixture of gold dust and charcoal grains. I can't really see the waves coming in because the fog is so thick that it hides the ocean just a few dozen feet off shore. All I can see is a foamy surface dotted with patchy areas of white water fading away from the gold and charcoal beach, suddenly overrun by an incoming tide of eager fresh foam, surging and rolling like a herd of white horses, which also finds itself disappointed by the beach, only to fade away in its own turn.
When I tell people that I live in Pacifica, they want to commiserate with me --so rainy and foggy. They are Philistines, the lot of them. The weather here isn't oppressive, it is exciting. It changes. It breaths. Every morning I wake up, wondering what I will see when I look out my window. The fog isn't a hardship, it is an adventure. It limits the eyes and frees the imagination. What could be out there just beyond the event horizon? Perhaps a ghostly pirate ship, sailing forlornly in search of its lost crew. Or a monstrous kraken seeking to pull innocent mariners below the waves with its many tentacles. Or maybe the doorway to a lost world. Could I swim out into the fog and find myself in another place, another time, where men still have fast-paced adventures instead of slow, grinding responsibilities?
I like the rain and fog. I like the clammy feel on my skin because I know that warmth and comfort and coffee await me only minutes away. There is something about sitting behind clear glass, watching the wet misery outside while you sit comfortable and dry. Perhaps to understand it you have to have grown up in Phoenix, city of Lovely Days. In Phoenix, you can always tell the natives from the visitors because the visitors think that weather is a fit topic of conversation: "Well! Lovely Day today, isn't it?" "Yes, Lovely Day, just like the last twenty days and the next twenty days." To someone raised in Phoenix, Lovely Days are boring. Boring and hot.
One of my most pleasant memories from childhood is a rainy early morning. My mother woke me while it was still dark to help load the car. We packed suitcases on the luggage rack of the brown panel-sided Pontiac station wagon and then piled in the car to head for Indiana where I would see my grandparents and cousins. An adventure was beginning! And against all odds it was beginning properly --on a rainy morning. I vaguely recall that my father was concerned about driving in the rain, but didn't see why because I knew that he would get us safely to our destination. I watched the sky lightening through the thick clouds and the rain splattering against the window as I sat in warmth and comfort, and I wondered why all of life couldn't be such an adventure.
That's why I'm sitting here watching the rain and fog and waves and drinking a now-cooling cup of coffee instead of heading to work. I'll have to skip my workout this morning, but my soul needed the exercise more.
The fog is retreating now under threat of day. I can see the gray water in the distance heaving up in waves to crash down on the disappointed foam, and the pirate ship has receded so that I still cannot see it behind the fog.
But it is always that way, isn't it? The great adventures are always somewhere else. The present is too filled up with consequences and responsibilities; it has no room for enchantment.