This visit, Dana Point-by-the-tru-la-la-ocean was hotter than Reseda by 1, February-heatwaving degree. 79 vs. 78. So of course we escorted my father into the minivan and drove to The Pilgrim and admired its masts and restoration for the gazzilionth time and after a bit left my father to harbor-gaze and ran the boy along the path morphing from concrete to tan sand and down the rocks to Ecology Beach, wending through the masses gathered for the pending sunset and, for the first time since bringing him to Ecology Beach, meaning since he was 3 months old, we explained to our Pre-K’er that Ecology
Beach is protected, meaning you can’t take anything from it, meaning he had to drop the shell and tell it goodbye and, for the first time in all his 5 years of exploring Ecology Beach and making every grain of sand, every mussel and godwit his, he grappled with this information, teetering between tears and “listening” as his parents waited, exchanging secret glances as they weathered the suspense—until he decided to place the shell back on the sand and run, run all-out to the point, while I trotted after father and son, trying not to worry about unstable cliff looming: crumbling (save that). We retrieved my father. Fixated on water, recent baffling harbor construction, the explosion of a beach town he grew up in, when Dana Point was moored fishing boats and not much else, except, of course, beach, he insisted (indignant) that he really wasn’t so wheezy, so of course we drove to the Wind and Sea and ate dinner on tiered patio and, with awed-by-weather locals, chatted while absorbing this between sentences: beauty, beauty, lucky. Even my father, who (as he will tell you, wheezing or not) knows everything and has seen it all, was affected by dusk-colors deepening, the warmth of winter and members of his perky family sitting so close in life. Even our son ignored his crayons and gazed at the first stars pricking purple sky, taken in by world made specific by bobbing pelicans and sailboats slipping quietly by us with their chevron wakes, annoyed by his mother pointing her iphone’s camera at his thoughtful face, capturing, no, hoarding—no deletions allowed.