The place where I walk by the ocean, is locally called the
East West Ranch. When I first moved to Cambria back in late 1989, it
had been a ranch that went bankrupt. It is something like 600 acres,
and sits between two of the main residential sections of the town (the east
and west sections) - on the ocean side of Highway 1. Back then, it was
posted with no trespassing signs, but there were spaces in the fence to climb
over and get through - so the effect was that the signs protected the owners
from liability but people could walk on the ranch as they pleased.
I love this ranch space. When I was living in a place near
the back edge of it in 1990, I would go for walks on the ranch all of the
time. Near where I would enter the ranch, I could cross a small stream
and come to a meadow in the woods. In the meadow was a mound - and it
felt like sacred space to me. I would commune with the meadow and then
walk up the hill through the woods. Coming out of the woods I could
see the ocean and then walk down the hill to the bluffs overlooking the
ocean. Along the part of the ocean that the ranch runs along there
is no beach. There are bluffs with rocks and tidal pools below.
It brought me great pleasure and serenity to walk through my meadow
and up the hill - or though a passageway through the trees that came out
in a different part of the ranch. There was a place just after this
passageway, where a tree stood alone. A tree that was bent over almost
double, creating what looked like kind of a portal. I would visualize
that being a portal to other dimensions or to the future where dreams would
As I would walk through the woods, I would see deer. Deer
in the Medicine Cards are about gentleness. Whenever I see a deer, I
take it as a direct reminder from my Higher Power to be gentle with myself.
I get to see lots of deer around here - to help me remember gentleness.
(My present landlady doesn't like it that they come into her garden at night
and eat the flowers - but I think it is cool.) As I came out on top
of the hill where I could see the ocean, I would sometimes see whales.
A whale - again in the Medicine Cards - is the record keeper, the keeper
of ancient knowledge.
At some later point, when I was living in Taos for the second time,
the ranch got sold to a developer who had plans for a big housing project.
One of the nice things about Cambria is that there is a water shortage
here. It is nice in my opinion, because it means that development is
severely limited. If it weren't there would be thousands more people
living here already.
Sometime after the developer bought the ranch, some idiot went
riding his bicycle at night on the ranch and fell and hurt himself.
Then he sued. I call him an idiot because it wasn't a smart thing to
do - but more because I felt victimized by his actions. Because of
that law suit - which of course came to nothing - the access to the ranch
was severely limited. Only access by people who signed a liability
waiver on a trail by the ocean was allowed. I couldn't go back to my
meadow any more.
The developer tried every means in his disposal to get permission
for his development, but the community rallied to try to save the open space.
The developer didn't help his cause much when he made public pronouncements
like saying that concrete was better for the land than cattle were.
Last year, the community - with the help of some National save
the spaces kind of organizations - was able to buy the ranch. Hopefully,
this will mean in the future that the meadow will be available again.
Anyway, I go for walks on this ranch. The last couple of
months I have been going for two walks a day every time my schedule allows
- something I have been able to do five or six times a week lately - getting
the extra exercise and good for the soul.
There were lots of whales migrating this year - the mother and
calf count was way up, good news. The migration is over now but there
are still whales to be seen occasionally year round. What has been
really spectacular lately is the wild flowers. We are starting the
dry season now, so they are just starting to wilt, but they have been gorgeous.
Wild flowers that are light blue, royal blue and violet ones that
surprised me by also blooming with with white flowers, yellow ones, yellow
and gold, yellow and white, totally gold ones, pale purple, dark purple, white
with purple tinges, some orange ones, and various types of white ones.
There were patches where the royal blue and violet ones were like a sea with
a little yellow or gold or purple amidst them - and other places where the
yellow ones were predominate with other colors interspersed. It was
a majorly cool wild flower season this year.
I love the winter time here because it is not only the rainy season
but also the whale migration time. (And there is no snow. ;-)
But I love walking on the ranch year round. Some days I get
to see deer and whales, some days dolphins, there are often seals around -
sometimes leaping out of the water repeatedly diving in what appears to be
a feeding frenzy when there are schools of fishing swimming through. (A bit
farther up the coast - off Moonstone Beach which was across the road from
the motel you stayed in - there are baby seals on the rocks with their mothers
now.) On occasion I spot one of the huge elephant seal bulls that weigh
2000 pounds swimming by - they look like sea monsters. I also get to
see Mr. Geeky Gawk who has been hanging out on the ranch lately. Mr.
Geeky Gawk is a blue heron that I have dubbed with that title because of
the herky jerky way that he moves (she ?).
One of the animals that I see regularly on my walks year round,
are otters. They are so cool. Floating on their backs, using
their little hands to pound with rocks to break open shell fish. The
local fishermen hate them because one of their favorite foods is abalone.
I saw a sign on a pick up truck in Morro Bay (about 20 miles south, with
a local fishing industry) that said "Otter - the other white meat."
They are usually in evidence in the mornings, afternoons and evenings
- but not around noon time. Otters need to eat a quarter of their
body weight every day - so they spend a lot of time eating. It seems
to me that they take a break at noon time. Their work is eating, so
they do it in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings - and take a break at
noon. That is the way I imagine it anyway. ;-)
Otters seem to be playful and full of Joy.
I was about 3/4 ways through my mile and a half walk when
suddenly I heard this noise. At first I thought it was a sea gull squawking
directly over my head - but I must not have thought that too strongly because
I didn't even look up. Instead I looked down, over the edge of the
bluff to the ocean. There was an otter yelling. Making this loud
squawking sound. It quickly became apparent to me that it was a mother
otter who had lost sight of her baby. She was pushing herself
as far up out of the water as possible, looking around wildly - yelling at
the top of her lungs.
You could see her anxiety and that panic was setting in as she
desperately tried to spot the baby. I saw the baby surface maybe 30
yards away on the other side of some rocks that blocked the mothers view.
The baby seemed to be having a great old time - and was oblivious to the
mothers calls. I wanted to yell to the mother, "there he/she is!"
but I knew she couldn't hear me with the crashing of the waves - and wouldn't
Otters have this amazing ease as they float on their backs in the
crashing waves. They just keep bobbing up over the waves without ever
being carried along with them. The baby otter was only about 2 feet
from some large rocks where the waves were crashing and sending up spray,
but just kept bobbing up over the next wave. They do this without
any seeming effort.
The baby dove down once again and when it resurfaced it seemed
to hear the mother. I couldn't hear if the baby called in return, or
if they just spotted each other - but they started swimming towards each other
rapidly. They came together and went into kind of a rolling hug in
the waves, rolling over and over again. A happy ending. ;-)
When the mothers are nursing the babies, the pups ride on their
stomachs. This makes the mother sink lower in the water. One I
saw a couple of days ago was riding so low in the water that it seemed that
only the tip of her nose was above the surface occasionally - it had to be
hard for her to breathe.
The sacrifices that mothers make for their babies! I guess
there probably isn't much difference in the instincts between mothers of most
species. At least, it certainly seems that mother otters have a lot
in common with human mothers. A good thing certainly.