Friday, August 27, 2004


Day before yesterday was stormy. Yesterday the seas were still high, great breakers plunging into the half-sunk rings of basalt, the whole sea-face lathered white. Huge knots of kelp, humps of lustrous tentacles the color of ancient tarnished temple bells, lay scattered across the beach, each with its attendant cloud of beach-flies. Single bronze strands glistened on the wet sand. When I stepped on them they pressed into the sand and lay there like inset enamel.

At evening a faint white mist rose over the whole heaving mass of the sea, and the setting sun, bringing light but no trace of color, lit all the sky and foam with a pale glow, as from an exalted, intensified moon. Gull Rock hovered, a featureless oblong of dark gray, above the white sea, and off to our right the cliffs of Cape Foulweather rose, the same featureless but cleanly-outlined dark gray, against the white sky.

We have seen not only the Grays -- which, I learn with some chagrin, are not the migratory population but year-round residents; other Grays migrate past in April and November, but these ones stay put -- we have seen not only Grays but also, for the first time, Orcas, smaller and darker but far more active. Smaller spouts and that unmistakeable dorsal fin flying like a war-banner. They played in the stormwater, breaching a couple of times. What the Grays thought of them, I don't know, but I pictured them irritable but fascinated, watching the Orcas with envious contempt, like the stodgy residents of a small town invaded by a Hollywood film-crew. We saw the Orcas just that one day. They're off now, no doubt, to winter in Cancun.

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