Todays Walk: Birds of Sunset Cliffs

“Birds know themselves not to be at the center of anything, but at the margins of everything. The end of the map. We only live where someone’s horizon sweeps someone else’s. We are only noticed on the edge of things; but on the edge of things, we notice much.”

― Gregory MaguireOut of Oz

The birds of Sunset Cliffs live on the edge. For so long I walked along, barely registering them except to restrain my once young dog from chasing them over the rocks into the ocean.

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Now that I’m on my own, they have moved from the periphery of my vision to the center. I look for the pigeons clustering along ledges in the cliffs. I watch for the flash white as gulls arc against the morning sky or see how close they will allow me to come before they leap off the edge of the rocks and dive to the water below.

The cormorants clustered on their own, proprietary rock just off shore,  sent me to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to learn why they were lifting their wings like Dracula preparing to swoop. Turns out, their feathers do not shed water. They are simply hanging themselves out to dry.

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I’ve begun to notice that the gulls are the early risers although very few of them appear much before  six o’clock in the morning. The pigeons emerge later, usually by 7 at one of the parking areas where a man brings bread. By mid morning, on a sunny day, all are resting on the ground along the cliffs, occupying spots reserved apparently, through some kind of avian negotiation, for their own kind.

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The pelicans command attention and resist my efforts to capture them on film while in flight. Many times, I stop walking and look up as a squadron passes overhead, chins tucked, wings barely moving, communicating so closely with the wind and each other that the rest of us are irrelevant. At rest, they are the guardians of the pier.

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Once I started paying attention, I started to see the precariousness of their lives. I’ve seen three gulls with one leg. I’ve seen young pigeons lose crumbs of bread to bigger, fatter, more experienced birds. I’ve watched winter storms drench the cliffs, roil the waves, toss the littler ones around like confetti and I’ve seen day after winter day how the gulls and the pelicans stare at the white caps of a winter ocean waiting for it to calm enough to fish.

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But I’ve also seen this: a pigeon couple courting and then coupling in the middle of long afternoon of blue sky and sun, seizing the moment and then turning as one to face the ocean and the sky and whatever the future holds.

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Today’s Walk: Morning Dilemma

“…I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” 
― E.B. White

Yesterday, before the mists rolled in, I rose and took my walk early. I didn’t want to stop. But I did. These moments nourished me for for the rest of the day and into today, as I sit watching the rain drip outside the window. I’m sharing a few hoping they do the same for you.

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Today’s Walk: Morning Light

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book

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These are from a walk I took Monday morning before I began to work or even think. A storm the night before was gone but left its mark. The sky and plants vibrated with light and color. A new garden of native plants to help preserve cliffs seemed to take hold. More cracks and fissures opened along the edges of the cliffs. The, gulls, cormorants and pelicans emerged from wherever they huddled for shelter and waited for the waters to subside so they could fish. The pigeons? They turned their backs on the ocean and looked for people bearing bread crumbs.

The day turned out to be a particularly good one.IMG_20160308_073123890_HDRIMG_20160308_065603626_HDR

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I’ve been walking for a year now, not every day and not always as far as I would like, but it is now part of me. I look for that moment each day when I can get outside, get my feet moving, let the thoughts in my head go for a while. Walking has become as important to my writing as sitting in the chair.

Along the way, I usually find at least one thing that catches my eye or snags my attention and sometimes I just want to share it as I find it. No long essay. No attempt to make meaning other than what is right there. If the moment captured is not from the day I post, it means I have been casting back in my memory and photo records of my walks and unearthed a nugget I think you’ll like. I invite you to comment and share your own photos of “Todays Walk.” You can post here or join me @EGMarro #todayswalk on Instagram, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Today’s Walk: Market Day in Ocean Beach

“An ordinary simple street is the mirror of the whole world!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Too many days, too few walks. Then came the chance to walk to the post office to mail a book to someone and there it was: the mirror of the world. Music. Color. The smells of empanadas, tamales, ribs, herbs, lavender cream. Tastes of honey, cheese, pastries. Sounds of laughter, sales pitches called out as the parade passes by with their shopping bags. I’d forgotten it was Wednesday when the weekly Farmer’s Market sets up on Newport Ave.

The ordinary is extraordinary in Ocean Beach.

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i’ve been walking regularly for over a year now, not every day and not always as far as I would like, but it is now part of me. I look for that moment each day when I can get outside, get my feet moving, let the thoughts in my head go for a while. Walking has become as important to my writing as sitting in the chair.

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Today’s Walk: Everyday Magic

“The sun set, which is everyday magic…”
― Terry Pratchett

A long day inside and then one healing step after another along the cliffs into the end of it all. And then home.

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I’ve been walking regularly for over a year now, not every day and not always as far as I would like, but it is now part of me. I look for that moment each day when I can get outside, get my feet moving, let the thoughts in my head go for a while. Walking has become as important to my writing as sitting in the chair.

Along the way, I usually find at least one thing that catches my eye or snags my attention and sometimes I just want to share it as I find it. No long essay. No attempt to make meaning other than what is right there. If the moment captured is not from the day I post, it means I have been casting back in my memory and photo records of my walks and unearthed a nugget I think you’ll like. I invite you to comment and share your own photos of “Todays Walk.” You can  post here or join me @EGMarro #todayswalk on Instagram, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Today’s Walk: A Silver Saturday


The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea. 

-Isak Dinesen

Today’s walk yielded evidence of the cliff’s impermanence. A crack ran the length of the parking lot’s edge below a ribbon of red caution tape. Yet the sea drew us all today for one reason or another, some joyful, some not. Surf advisories only drew surfers and people to watch them. One guest attended a wedding on the end of his leash.

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I’ve been walking regularly for over a year now, not every day and not always as far as I would like, but it is now part of me. I look for that moment each day when I can get outside, get my feet moving, let the thoughts in my head go for a while. Walking has become as important to my writing as sitting in the chair.

Along the way, I usually find at least one thing that catches my eye or snags my attention and sometimes I just want to share it as I find it. No long essay. No attempt to make meaning other than what is right there. If the moment captured is not from the day I post, it means I have been casting back in my memory and photo records of my walks and unearthed a nugget I think you’ll like. I invite you to comment and share your own photos of “Todays Walk.” You can  post here or join me @EGMarro #todayswalk on Instagram, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Sunset 2013

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Sunset
Photo by Kit Guest, Ventura, CA, December 2013

As 2013 began to draw to its close, the skies over southern California began to light up. For several weeks in December, many of us would be on our way into the house to make dinner only to become spellbound. More than once, the early risers among us caught the moon fading into a glory of blues, golds, violet and, salmon. Pictures of sunsets and sunrises passed among friends on Facebook, were sent to relatives back east by email, or were snapped on smart phones and shared with any who happened to be nearby.

It wasn’t just the singular beauty of each moment that caught us by the heart and wouldn’t let go. It was the unprecedented abundance of such moments. Each night, each morning offered a new gift of light, a new chance to feel our bodies turn towards the light and stop, transfixed. The palm trees we passed every day without a glance went black against the sky as if scorched or danced in the softening light, fronds shining.

There is no such thing as an ugly sunrise or sunset. It’s just that the beauty is often more subtle, so subtle we may forget to look. When the skies lit up this month, some of us wondered what it meant — was it some new weather pattern? It’s possible. But it is also possible that the heavens were hurling bolts of beauty at us to make us stop, to make us look, to rob us temporarily of our speech and our thoughts which keep us from noticing the every day beauty that surrounds us. Look now, the skies seemed to be telling us. Look deeply.

Or, maybe this was 2013’s way of saying good-bye.

Happy New Year! Thank you to each and every one of you who has made my first year with this blog a joy. Here’s to healthy, happiness, and peace in the year ahead.

Sunset transforms a utility pole outside my house.

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A utility pole outside my house is transformed by the sunset

The next day, sunrise – a new day

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December sunrise, Point Loma, December 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise, Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise, Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise, Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise, Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise, Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise (and moon-set), Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise, Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

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December sunrise, Point Loma, 2103
Photo: Elizabeth Marro

Many thanks to my sister, Kit Guest, who provided the photo of the sunset from Ventura at the opening of this post. Her eye for beauty and gift for capturing it never cease to delight all who know her.  If anyone else has photos of sunrises or sunsets they would like to share, please give us all a way to look at them and appreciate them as the year comes to a close.