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Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Missing a few friends? Wondering where all of the neighbors have gone? Finding your streets and roads particularly empty? I have found the missing masses! We are all in San Diego. The locals call us “Zonies,” poking gentle fun at us. Californians claim that every other person in their state is a vacationing Arizonan, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are jokes made about us, but we don’t care. We’re too cool at the beach to worry about much.

Life is different here. Surfboards and fishing poles are the day’s essentials, since iPads, computers, and phones are silenced, all drowned out by roaring waves. Important matters are usually centered around which bait is best for an early morning catch. Finding sand crabs is a big ritual. Lures and hooks have to be organized. Poles and lines have to set-up just right.

Surfboards have to be waxed in order to get a good ride. Wet suits have to be rinsed every night and waves need to be caught at optimal times during the day. Tides need to be understood so you can push off at the right spot. Lots of things have to be considered in order to make it safely (in one piece) back to shore. Oh, and let’s not think about jellyfish and sharks.

Life holds many pleasures, some common ones that require nothing more than time and curiosity. Have you felt a starfish lately? There’s nothing in the world quite like it. When’s the last time you walked barefoot outdoors in the sand? Could you spend an afternoon watching waves? Do you know the “secret technique” used by the pros when building sandcastles? (Adding water – lots of water while they build). Oh, did I mention that one to four days after the full or new moon, the grunions (little fish) slither up on the beach to lay their eggs? They come out after ten at night, so walking the beach with a flashlight waiting to witness this surreal and amazing phenomena, becomes an important ritual. Hundreds of silvery, glimmering fish all beaching themselves is quite a sight!
Getting back to surfing, it has occurred to me that I may be way past my prime when it comes to managing the long-board. It is not an easy sport! The grandsons seem better suited for it. I always try to sail fearlessly on one big wave that will carry me in a time capsule of white foam above a blue sea, towards a white shore. If I can do it right, it lasts just a few moments, but the rush will linger all year long. If I do it wrong (most of the time), it feels like a train-wreck with a mouthful of saltwater. Why do kids seem to surf naturally?

I usually ponder these and other mysteries while at the beach. Some questions have no answers. Have you ever noticed that a two-year old with squat little legs can out-run just about any adult?  Why do we think that television and video games matter so much, when children can go for a week with nothing more than a bucket, shovel, sand, and waves? How can the moon in the sky control the tides on the shore? Why does the sun seem to sink faster when it’s falling over an ocean? Hmm....more mysteries to ponder.
Why do sea creatures wash up on shore? A few years ago, near the end of our trip, thousands of giant squid washed up in the La Jolla Cove. Even with dozens of volunteers trying desperately to throw them back to sea, most died. Imagine seeing an entire beach with one-eyed monsters gasping for breath. What happened? Marine biologists didn’t know and called it a “freak phenomenon” of nature. We may have some weird-looking wildlife in the Arizona, but trust me when I tell you that nothing is more terrifying than a beach full of squid!
The oddest and ugliest of God’s creatures still deserves a helping hand. Throwing them back in the water, one squid at a time, a volunteer was asked “Why bother? With so many squid washed up, it won’t make a difference.” The volunteer answered back as he tossed a squid out to sea, “To this one, it will make a difference.”

That’s it! The true meaning of life! Live it one wave at a time, make a difference one squid at a time, run like a two-year old, play like a kid in the sand, and touch as many starfish as possible. Remain curious so you can enjoy the wonder of a midnight walk in the light of a full moon to watch grunions make their way to shore. More insights might be coming, Dear Readers, but my board needs waxing. Until next week, stay cool, hang ten. Surf’s up!

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at