fuss: the day before the finest sunset ever

We devoted our outdoor time last week exclusively to Montana De Oro, roaming the bluffs, delving into tidepools, breaking rocks and experiencing a sunset so overwhelming a woman on the trail lurched into a staggering jog toward the sea as if witnessing the Rapture, camera dangling forgotten from one hand.  She paused alongside us to grab my arm and exclaim  "Do you live here?  IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL!" (much to Fuss' consternation), then resuming her disjointed charge toward the light.

Her reaction was wholly appropriate.

With Fuss (or any small-ish child) it's easy to get stuck in ruts- you acclimate to 'how they are' and fail to notice over the course of a few weeks or months they suddenly aren't at all 'like that' any longer.  With Fuss, his independence and willfulness always constrained our enthusiasm for taking him anywhere potentially lethal, say a seaside path bordered by sheer cliffs.  When we visited Montana De Oro we'd stick to the cove by the parking lot...and even there he managed to find danger, clambering up the steep rock wall behind the creek beyond where the wife could fetch him down, charging headlong into the freezing surf, dislodging and hefting huge rocks from the creek bed overhead.

He's no less independent and challenging, but he's finally developed a loose grasp on the concept of "danger" and it occurred to me we could possibly explore the bluffs without my having to stave off tragedy by maintaining a death grip on his collar every moment.  So, with that flash of enlightenment we embarked from the library parking lot, destination NATURE.

The day was overcast and the air shook with huge surf atomizing itself against the jagged shoreline. The resulting mist smudged the border of the sky and sea, and it seemed we'd entered a sublime, dark Rothko paintings, indefinite boundaries and infinite depths expressed by gradations of blue and gray.  There was no visible sunset, only a gradual subsidence of color as the mist thickened and chilled.

It was in this luminal, incrementally coalescing twilight that we met the fox at the crossroads.

I'd been cajoling Fuss back toward the car for most of an hour, inspired by gentle, intermittent rainfall and encroaching darkness, traversing an inland path that cut through the brush in a bee-line toward our parking spot.  This journey was complicated by ever increasing wildlife sightings, a panoply of rabbits and birds spilling out across the trail before us racing against full dark.  Each sighting imposed a demand for absolute silence from Fuss, the better to creep up on them and shout BOO!

I followed along, dutiful witness to his delicate tip-toe prancing advance, elbows high, hands low and casting shapes, a Martha Graham silhouette in the dusk.  He crept within a few feet of a rabbit distracted by a louder group of hikers a ways off.  His shouts scattered handfuls of birds skyward like black confetti and he'd spin back around laughing to bask in my appreciation of his feat.

As we drew near the intersection of the bluff path and our cross country shortcut the rabbits and birds vanished and we strode along companionably through the damp gloom.

Fuss paused to investigate some poop on the trail (an endless source of fascination) when I saw the brush ahead shudder silently. A second later a fox strode casually into the crossroads less than ten yards away.  I tapped Fuss frantically on the shoulder and pointed violently.  His reflexive annoyance at any interruption gave way to gaping astonishment.  He rose from his crouch and we both stared openmouthed at the gauzy apparition.  

The fox was surprisingly large, with a tail nearly the size of its body.  It stood still for a moment, nosing the air, then spun daintily around and exited the way it had come, vanishing soundlessly into the scrub.

A few seconds passed, then Fuss exploded with pent up excitement. "Dada!  It was a REAL FOX!  I can't believe we saw a REAL FOX!"

We continued back to the car, Fuss periodically exclaiming "I never saw a REAL FOX before!"  
"Me either, Fuss. Wasn't he amazing?" I'd reply.

We'd come on the spur of the moment and I hadn't brought the camera, which I regretted in the moment.  But I've recently begun carrying around a notebook & pen to jot down his memorable sayings and it was no more disruptive to fetch it out and scratch down a few lines than to take a picture.  The quality of the day let itself more to prose in any case- while I'm sure there are photographers out there equipped to capture the gossamer unreality of the scene as I witnessed it....I am not one of them.  

More later, assuming I don't get distracted.

1 comment:

woodyb3 said...

I've never seen a fox at Montana Del Oro and am hopelessly jealous of you and Fuss. Keep the notebook. Fuck the camera.