Winter is upon us. Folks on the east coast always
talk like we have no seasons to observe here in Southern California. While the seasonal changes are subtle here, they
are felt and seen by the close observer. Already, we are seeing the large waves from the Northwest erode away our beach here
next to the marina. New species of birds are visiting our shores. Multi-colored species of surfers in every wetsuit color
are braving the colder waters to catch the waves that break with the power they carry all the way from the Gulf of Alaska.
The Swallows have long departed to Central America to enjoy an Endless Summer in the Banana Republics. They've been replaced
here in the marina by Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Night Herons, Kingfisher and Grebes. Now, Sandpipers, Curlews and other
new shorebirds can be found at the beach until they return north for the summer.
The rats in the rocks at the beach are scurrying for new cover as the large waves and high tides have washed away thousands
of square feet of sand that had been their home during the summer months. Speaking of rats, we've recently added to the souls
living aboard Shearwater a white albino rat with pink eyes (almost blind, the beach rats are brown) that our dog found wandering
around the beach a couple of months ago. We thought he might be a lost or abandoned pet or that he had floated down the storm
drain to the beach.
Elmo (as we dubbed him) used to sleep in a small coffee mug inside his cage. He's now a bowlful,
rather chunky and personable. He sits on top of his cage every evening hoping to get a tid-bit to munch on. Holli, our Golden
Retriever acts uninterested, but her rat hunting at the beach has escalated to a new level of intensity. She caught her first
large brown rat in the dark the other night. With it shreiking and struggling in her jaws, on command she let it go immediately.
It scurried up the rocks and disappeared, carrying it's horrifying story to the others.
The Sailing season might be over for all the
sailing clubs but, it has just begun for all the cruisers from the Northwest who are headed south since the hurricane season
ended in November.
Sailors from Vancouver, Washington and Oregon can be found holed up in anchorages at Catalina
Island and in Marinas all along the Southern California coast, making last minute provisioning and repairs before heading
south to Mexico, the Caribbean or the South Seas.
May all creatures great and small have a warm, safe
winter and New Year.
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