On Seeing Dolphins

by Ekua on October 17, 2011 in California,local discoveries,the natural world

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough.  We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
– C.S. Lewis.

A month ago, I took a weekend trip down the coast to Santa Cruz to visit a friend and escape from the city life for a couple days. On Saturday morning, I found myself on my own in Carmel-by-the-Sea with a few hours to spare. I walked down to the beach and walked along the shore to one end of it. On my way back, I stopped to just stand still and look at the ocean.

I watched the water come forward and rise and circle towards itself and recede. There is something miraculous in the curvature of the waves. And there is a release of tension that can come with the assurance of the cycle. To really be present at the ocean or in the nature of your choice is a kind of therapy.

As I stood there reveling in the scenery, I remembered how I used to do the same thing as a kid in warmer climates. Except my feet would’ve been in the water. And as the water repeatedly washed over them, my feet would slowly be buried in the sand until I was grounded in the earth up to my calves. I’d eventually pull my feet out and start again.

A woman walked by me and brought me out of my memories. “Did you see them?” she asked me with a huge grin.

“See what?”

“The dolphins… there they go again!”

I missed them. But it was just moments before they resurfaced, their fins momentarily poking through the top of the sea in unison. They were so close to the shore. I watched them, mesmerized, until I couldn’t see them any longer.

Dolphins never interested me as a kid. My thoughts of them somehow were limited Marine-this or Sea-that where sea animals do tricks for you for the payment of fish. There was a day camp I would go to where we would visit one of those places once a summer. It was a field trip I dreaded. I can’t really say why I felt that way back then, but I hated marine parks. It wasn’t until I saw dolphins in the wild that I started to really love the creatures.

A little over a week ago, I was on a boat in the San Francisco Bay to celebrate the marriage of two friends. We started near the Bay Bridge, passed huge military ships that were docked for Fleet Week, went past Alcatraz, and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. But as we returned to the center of the bay, before it could become entirely a tour of man made feats, we spotted dolphins.

At first, I thought the guy who was trying to point them out had visited the open bar one too many times. But then I saw a school of fins appear in the distance, headed in the direction of the shore of the Presidio.

Dolphins in the wild aren’t guaranteed to jump out of the water and do tricks. They can be elusive. You may only get to watch them for a minute. But to see nothing more than the graceful backs of dolphins emerge in unison for a few moments can be immensely special.

On that evening, they were a beautiful sight during the winding down of a lovely day. And a nice reminder that the wild can be closer than we think.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie October 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

The photo of La Virgen just made me so happy. That orange!

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Ekua October 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Hehe, I think this made it on to the wrong post. But yeah, the combination of that shade of orange wall and silver paint made it such a great rendition.

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Phil October 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Great post, Ekua. I love this paragraph:

“I watched the water come forward and rise and circle towards itself and recede. There is something miraculous in the curvature of the waves. And there is a release of tension that can come with the assurance of the cycle. To really be present at the ocean or in the nature of your choice is a kind of therapy.”

Reply

Ekua October 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Thanks, Phil. While I was standing there, I couldn’t help but think how much better off humanity would be if we took more time to visit and be present in nature!

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