Sunday, September 20, 2009


It being a new year, an old friend and I wandered down to the continent’s edge to turn our pockets inside out and throw the missteps of the old year out into the flowing water.

While we were there, we did a little tidepooling.

John Steinbeck’s old friend Ed Ricketts loved the rich intertidal zone, a fertile area of constant turmoil, washed with fresh nutrients at every high tide, left to warm and interact as the water draws back out, creating a steady stream of surplus energy for the next several links in the food chain.

My old friend Susan loves the tidepools, where you can poke sea anemones and watch them squirt.

Different forms of life seem to cling in every crevice here, some hunkering down and hiding in the dry time until the water comes back, others lurking in the water most of the day but darting up onto land for the air they need to survive. Nothing here survives by being all wet or all dry.

All sorts of life blossom and intertwine in this microhabitat, rife with diversity, adaptation, and specialization.

Shorebirds love the band along the coast too, where chum fish school and forage on the tasty nutrients in the shallows.

We saw a couple of different flocks of pelicans swirling over shoals of unseen fish near the shore, diving past each other and splashing often two at a time, feeding as fast as they could drop, surface, and climb back up into the air to dive again.

Much of the abundant life in the intertidal zone is literally neither fish nor fowl, invertebrates of various colors and stripes getting on with life in what modest ways they know.

Having unloaded our misdemeanors from the past year, we headed back to a higher-cultured forage: We heard there was frozen yogurt waiting for us once we got back to the top of the bluffs.

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