What Beauty Gets You

Candle, wine, deck—listening to the river’s endless monologue, grateful for that natural continuity.

I returned from Big Sur with a line in my head that needed to be inserted into a poem I’m working on. I am lucky the line didn’t leave me, creative synapses firing long and repeatedly enough for me to take care of business. I blame this firing on my receiving a mass infusion of beauty for 4 days, pretty much from Morro Bay’s sea otters bobbing in the shadow of the infamous rock, to Andrew Molera’s wild beach, and back to (okay, I’ll be generous) the southern outskirts of SLO. I blame this mad bout of memory-retaining on the wild turkeys, the Steller’s Jays and the deer I caught with my eyes when I happened to glance into the wilderness flanking our trail. She froze, all of us hikers froze, even the preschoolers and the toddler in the toddler backpack. About 20 feet from us, she stared at our little party, we gazed at her with soft gasps, moving on only when she did. When your eyes feast on beauty, it’s impossible not to hear muses.

Here is the line for my poem:

An idea popped in his pistons

Just kidding. My son is eating “organic” jello and watching a Thomas The Train episode. It’s nice, though, isn’t it, when ideas pop in your pistons—as long as they don’t pop out your pistons.

Here is the line for my poem:

The city’s loose, casual permanence: I am changing.

That’s it. That’s all! But it needed to go in. Whether it stays or not or is axed or brutally revised is another story.

We stopped off in San Simeon to break up the drive home. Elephant seals. An incredible sunset viewed from cold beach. That night I woke up around 3a.m., convinced a tidal wave was coming. As I waited for the tsunami sirens to wail, I plotted our escape—head for Hearst Castle and their gate? But would the castlekeepers remember to drive down and let fleeing types in? Head South, then, to Cambria and promptly inland—but could we make it before the ocean surged over the highway? Head straight up, then, up the road with the “mini-mart” full of shot glasses and sweatshirts and magnets promoting Highway 1. But how far back did the road go? And where was my trusty map of my golden state? I may be a 7th generation Californian, but I am not enough of a native to not need a map! Stop. Breathe, I told myself. Trust life. Oh my god, babe, my husband told me when I heard him sigh at 5a.m. and immediately started talking to him. Oh my god, why didn’t you just wake me up?

We returned home to the news of the earthquake swarms in San Diego…

Trust life.

Back in our own king size bed vs. the rustic cabin’s mounding mini-queen, I dreamed a mildly famous, creepy poet I used to know blasted off to Space and lost his lifeline and for some reason I was designated to be the rescue team. Oh, I don’t think so, I said. I have a little boy. I will not be going. Bye-bye poet.

Letting go can be so cathartic, but sometimes it’s challenging to let go of trails and heart-pounding vistas and rocky beaches inhabited by creatures we rarely see. Yes, it was comforting to bring home photos and magnets and a sea otter Christmas ornament and several t-shirts proclaiming BIG SUR (since my husband forgot his suitcase, the t-shirts were purchased for practical reasons) and a line soon to be part of a poem, most likely, once I am back in the writing chair this evening, procrastinating, or not, remembering, believing—but of course nothing compares to actually being there. Go! Get there. And have a good time. When you report back, remember the deer and what the river told you. Don’t ever forget.

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About PB Rippey

Writer, wife, mother, fortunate.
This entry was posted in Fiction, ocean related, Poetry, Writer's Angst, Writing, Writing Progress, WTF and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What Beauty Gets You

  1. Loved this post, and loved the deer, and the elephant seals… a friend has just rung me to tell there are Southern White whales in our Bay – the bliss, of just knowing they are there………

  2. Beth Hull says:

    Totally laughed at the pistons line. I thought you were serious at first.
    And whoa about the imagined tsunami (which I typed tsumani at first, which I think is funny even though it’s not).
    Beautiful post, PB. Inspiring.

    • PB Rippey says:

      Thanks, Beth–tsumani? Hee hee! It is funny. Can I go back to Big Sur now? I saw a little elementary school there–it didn’t look backwoods, bears-eating-you scary, but cute. The Henry Miller Library would be our neighbor. And I could revise at the Cafe Kiva. And probably miss the city after a week.

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