Letter From California
11/27/08 0646.21 pst
Morro Bay, California
For whatever reasons that were deemed to be necessary travel and departure from home kitchens was on the agenda for my family this Thanksgiving, so here we are in Morro Bay, a pretty coastal town that has RV slots with hookups right on a nice public golf course, a magnet that has drawn my parents innumerable times over the years.
Souls at peace are asleep in the room, little ones not so little anymore but still so young. A laptop, a foghorn, the Morro Rock, and seagulls making an unholy racket are my dawn this morning, I could get used to this. The original plan was to eat at a restaurant but then my sister actually rented a house, so although my knives and stove will not be there at least I can cook something, this is a very nice spot but Thanksgiving has always meant serious time in the kitchen for me, it will be good to keep that part of the holiday in my hands still.
Mary would be enthralled with this place, a State bird sanctuary is right next to park, cormorants and pelicans now croaking along with the seals. Bucolic and pretty, Morro Bay is repeated at least 50 times up and down the California coast, but the pretty noisy life teeming along its shores now should never be viewed as something preserved in California, we have tried hard but lost so much.
Off Santa Barbara there were kelp beds of unending grace and seemingly limitless size, advanced predatory mammals like seals, sea lions and otters everywhere in an abundant fairyland of fish species. Monterey Bay was a legendary ecosystem of stupefying magnitude in its capability to support life, hundreds of tons of squid used to be sucked right out of the harbor using just a bright light, trash calamari for bait and fertilizer, with hundreds of Portuguese fisherman making a living in little boats for decades. Farrallon Islands used to be a magnificent habitat for the great California rock cod, right on par with salmon for tastiness.
All gone. The California of only four generations ago quarried the Morro Rock, and two generations ago dumped low-level nuclear waste at the Farrallons.
This is isn’t some guilt trip about what none of us were alive to responsible for or a petty wallow in what could have been. It is a statement that as long as I breathe California will never return to a cultural or political climate where the ecosystem is smashed and pillaged for the plunder of one generation only. No.
The small lives so peacefully asleep will hear the seals just as I do now forty years from now. There will not be one more oil platform erected off the California coast, ever. Windmills, that’s cool, but nothing for oil, never again. I am going to install a wind turbine and solar panels to one day plug into my electric car, soon, it won’t be hard, and sooner or later the race will follow, things will get better. Gonna try, at least.
So happy Thanksgiving, again. Hotels proclaim they have access to the holy ether but this is often not the case, so I fired off that Thanksgiving missive way early just in case, but here we are. Peace be with all your souls and great skills in your culinary adventures, I’m sure everything will be fine. I am so very, very grateful for that, yes.