It is August, and I am so happy to be in northern California, but it depends on who you talk to whether that is where I am on this planet or not. It all depends on whether you consider Monterey to be part of central or northern California or if the Bay Area is in northern California or not, and whether you split the state into halves or into thirds. Born by the bay of the Golden Gate, all I can tell you is that when I travel from the south and arrive at Monterey, that it is the place where it starts to feel like I am home again. Perhaps we can compromise and call it the southern reaches of the Bay area in northern California.
It is late afternoon and it is so misty, and becoming mistier, soon the skyline and the sea shall merge. Meanwhile, a highlander tradition is performed on the links by the sea, at the edge of a vast continent at the tip of the Monterey peninsula. Do you think that the bagpipes are a melodious instrument? Even if you don't think so, you would have to change your mind about this bagpiper. All await the nightly event as the sole bagpiper walks the greens, accompanied only by a drummer. He played the tune we know of as Amazing Grace, then made his exodus from the greens amid cheers from the crowd gathered on the al fresco living room decks. The bagpiper and his drummer now mingle with the guests. I like the padded paddles the drummer used for his big drum. It is so unlike a Sousa parade, this melancholy lone bagpiper and his drummer. With the nightly musical tradition completed, the main crowd disperses, for the mistiness is not to be tolerated now, even for a tiny instant more, as other enjoyment awaits them. They are off to change clothes to go to posh restaurant destinations, or maybe to eat here at this timeless Californian location, the Inn at Spanish Bay.
Once the earlier crowd cleared, a serene sculpture came into view. Situated on a grassy berm, a young girl, with one knee bent pouts out her so-serious-eight-year-old philosophy, and a granddad, hatted, hand to his eyebrow, contemplates with his learned wisdom the truth of observation from the perspective of such purity, captured in time eternal as this sculpture. Excuse me, but might I trouble you for another glass of chardonnay? Thank you so much, dear lassie. Perhaps I should have considered ordering a scotch. Dad would have liked that, and perhaps my Scottish grand-mum as well. Now we are left with the hard-core coast lovers, those that don't mind the mist, and came prepared with a jacket or a shawl. I am surrounded by the happy laughter of these relaxed wine and scotch imbibers. The mixed sounds of the restless sea and subdued laughter, could life's soundtrack ever be more harmonious than this?
The misty progression is now simply that, progressing. A sparrow with a striped head lands on the deck. Isn't it a little late for you, my feathered friend? I guess you must need one more little bite to eat before settling down in the darkness. The fall of evening across the links continues. The pale pink daisies increase in intensity as the light from the sun, veiled by the mist, fades away. The rock rose blossoms become more vibrant, their hot pink petals contrasting even more greatly with their grey-green foliage. The evening chirping of the birds becomes a song, a melody that is repeated every night as our feathered friends check in to their own little abodes for one more night around this lovely seaside inn.
The fire in the stone pits, hardly noticeable before, even though they were doing a fine job keeping their patrons warm, take on vibrancy in the color play of their flames against the deepening evening hues. We have always been able to hear the surf, but now the crashing of the waves becomes the dominant sound. Gulls, cooing now and then cawing, on and off, lament their last chance to dine before their required evening rest.
Our misty evening is becoming chilly, so even I contemplate departing the procession of nature's activities outdoors in the dusk. Perhaps I will take one last glimpse indoors by the warm fireplace surrounded by windows that will allow me to view, in comfort, the progression that is at hand. That warm cozy retreat and a scotch call me. But wait - a fox darts across the greens! Just what do you think about that! Soon, the deer and fawns will venture through the greens as well, under cover of the dusk and the settling mist and fog.
Yes, northern California in late summer, an evening by the sea, quintessential in its charm. If you have not yet had the pleasure, there is no rush, for its beauty will not be leaving us anytime soon. There are so many fine places to experience it, but, for me, one of the most special of all is at the Inn situated at the western edge of the continent on the Monterey peninsula, at Spanish Bay, surrounded by the restless sea.