New moon?

… The moon is nothing
But a circumambulating aphrodisiac
Divinely subsidized to provoke the world
Into a rising birth-rate

The Lady’s not for Burning
Christopher Fry

The moon was new last night, which meant there was a chance of seeing a very slim crescent moon in the first few minutes after sunset — and possibly seeing the rest of the moon, the part the sun can’t reach, faintly lit by earthlight. Only a chance, the moon sets 5~10 minutes after the sun today, and being such a thin crescent it will be very dim and easily obscured.

Wilcox ReflectedSo I went for a beach walk at sunset.

Well… The moon is an excuse really, I go out to watch the sunset most Sundays.

And to watch the ocean, and the birds.

Usually the sand on the beach migrates away for the winter and returns in the spring, and today the sand is still sparse and the beach quite steep. There seems to be a fair amount of surfWave breaking on Rock which gives the waves a chance to show off and break impressively against the rocks uncovered by the winter storms.

And the light is nice right before sunset.

SanderlingsThe sanderlings are out today, doing their little dance with the water — chasing the wave as it recedes, probing hurriedly into the wet sand, and then running from the next wave in a futile effort to keep their feet dry. Silly little things. Their legs move so fast… (I wish I had their turnover:-)

Sun PathThe sun is burning a path into the sand for me to follow (the moon is yet invisible), and follow it I do.

Everyone else seems to have the same idea and we all walk into the setting sun.

The evening is hazy. Sunset but no moonsetI fear the moon will not show her face. But a hazy evening with occasional clouds gives more color to the sunset even while it obscures the moonset. So not all is lost.

I watch a little longer, but there is no sign of a moon.

Three months ago, the sun set well out to sea. Now it is setting over UCSB, and in a few more months it will be behind the mountains and out of sight. As close as Santa Barbara comes to seasons.

Then I head back home. Along with everyone else on the beach.

The quality of light has changed now, the world no longer glows, but if I look behind there is an ember in the west.

The sanderlings are still playing their eternal game with the waves, and a pair of plovers have joined in, but without the same zest — the legs of the sanderlings move so rapidly — the plovers look clumsy in comparison.

Ahead the trees on the wilcox bluffs are fading into the evening’s mist.

I pass a man with his head down talking into his cell-phone. How can he deaden himself that way? Here he is, surrounded by fading beauty and his attention is fixed on a small piece of plastic. The crashing of the waves, the calling of the birds are just annoyances to him, they mean he can’t hear the phone.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Surrounded by beauty we chose to focus on something ugly.

Yuck.

I think this is the same reaction I have to iPods and such. I live in Santa Barbara. It is a beautiful place, why would I want to drown out all the natural world, why avoid all the beauty? Why run with an iPod?

Now if I went for a walk, or a run, in downtown Los Angeles, that might be a different matter, I might be glad to stifle the sounds of the cars, and obscure the grime of that smoggy city. But I live somewhere beautiful, I walk in beautiful places, I run into beauty. I want to enjoy it.

I find it sad, a sign of sickness in our culture, that so many of us will huddle over our cell-phone and not look behind to see the sunset.

Looking behind to the sunset

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