Thursday, December 3, 2015

Return to Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove in the afternoon.
I've been meaning to post ever since we got back from Spain, but life and work intruded -- in a happy way. I'm working on a new story, to be included in an anthology coming out next year.
Though I've kept my nose to the grindstone, it's made my blogging lackadaisical. Then Thanksgiving came -- a wonderful communal gathering with my beloved god family -- and after that we went to Pacific Grove for the weekend. Pacific Grove, Monterrey, and Carmel have long had a shared place in our hearts. We come back when we can, like homing pigeons, to walk the beaches and visit the art galleries in Carmel.

We spent both mornings in Pacific Grove, driving, then walking along the sea wall, enjoying the slate-blue of the distant waters, the foamy white ruffles of incoming waves, the soft hush-sh-sh of waves rippling and splashing on rocks, the muffled roar of larger waves, and the kwee-dkwee-kwee of the seagulls that soared and swooped from rocks to shore and back again.

A distant boat on the endless waters.

A lone seagull, taking it all in.

Rocks that jut up like sculptures.

And a rock littered with roosting gulls.
That was the ocean view.

On land, the ice plant that makes a fuchsia-colored carpet across the sand in spring was bereft of flowers, but it glistened in green and red tones like stained glass.

A path of beauty.

Fall colors like stained glass

Someone staring out to sea.

For years I've wanted to visit the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, an "overwintering" spot for monarch butterflies, November through February each year, free for viewing. This time we did. Look closely. Nature has truly devised a great safety system for these delicate creatures;
At first we thought they were only dried
Hundreds of butterflies with folded wings, looking like
so many dried leaves in their wonderful camouflage.
leaves hanging from trees--and not
pretty leaves, at that. And then a little
kid pointed them out to us! "They're
in camouflage," he said. (Smart kid!)
We looked again, and were amazed.
Hundreds upon hundreds of folded
wings. Camouflage indeed!

One butterfly opened its wings

Both afternoons, we drove into Carmel to enjoy the many art galleries. We have certain galleries we particularly like: One is Classic Art Gallery. One is the Carmel Art Association, a collaborative gallery that features work by local artists and puts out a lovely small catalogue each year that is like a book of art gems. You can visit them HERE. We also like Jones & Terwilliger Galleries.  But actually there are so many good galleries, an amble through them is like an amble through several fine art museums.

Because Rajan is into black and white photography, we stopped by two photography galleries we've always enjoyed.

One is the Weston Gallery. They are featuring a color show in one section at present, but they specialize in the art of some of my husband's favorite black and white photographers: Ansel Adams (his hero), Edward and Brett Weston, Yousuf Karsh, Michael Kenna, Imogen Cunningham . . . . You can click on the name of the gallery above, and, once there, click on the artists and see wonderful samples of their work. The other is Photography West Gallery, featuring some of the same artists, all working in black and white film (my husband's first love) rather than digital.

Both afternoons we stopped by a charming restaurant/bar called Grasings on  6th and Mission, and had a glass of crisp Chardonnay. The place had a soft, warm atmosphere and a friendly staff, and it made for a nice pause in the day.
Hubby's ear in lower left corner. :-)

A nice pause in the day.
 My birthday was Monday, but since we would be driving back to Sacramento that day, we celebrated Sunday evening at a little French restaurant in Pacific Grove. (Or maybe it's Monterrey: those areas run into each other, and I'm never quite sure. )

                                              It's called Fifi's Bistro Cafe , a reasonably priced, charming restaurant with a cosy atmosphere. Fifi was there that evening, as it was the restaurant's 30th anniversary. She's French, of course, and she looked casually chic, as the French somehow always manage to do -- black dress, red scarf, hair tumbled back in a clip. We are not dessert eaters, but when she found out we were celebrating my birthday, she insisted on bring an order of flan for us to share, and she brought a beautiful red rose to the table, scattering the petals over the white tablecloth. How French!

I have a lot of questions in this post: Have you ever seen the monarch butterflies wintering over in some location? (I understand there are quite a few; not just Pacific Grove.) Do you have a special affinity for the ocean? Do you enjoy black and white photography? What is your favorite art form?



Richard Hughes said...

No, I've never seen the Monarch butterflies. I do enjoy the ocean, but don't visit it as much as I used to. I like b&w photography, but still favor color photos. My favorite art form? I enjoy music, painting, and fiction about equally. A nice post, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Richard. I knew you like painting and writing fiction, but I didn't realize you like music as well -- although most lovers of one art love others as well. Since you live in Florida, you may get a chance to see some monarch butterflies. Apparently they live in Florida year round and don't migrate.

Richard Hughes said...

Oh, I guess you're right. I guess those are Monarch butterflies I see once in a while. But I've never seen them in migration, which must be an amazing sight.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Being a prairie gal, seeing the ocean was a right out shock. I had no idea how much power it contained. We sat and stared at it basking in the magic then went inside. My sister asked if we had fun swimming in the ocean and we gaped at her! You swim in that!?! lol. Great post! Always a joy to see your pictures too!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya, glad you stopped by. Yes, the power of the ocean is impressive. And to think, it covers most of the earth, I think 70%. There IS something magic about the ocean, too. It's hypnotic to watch and soothing to hear. I'm glad you liked the pictures.

Rosi said...

You have been to my favorite place in California. We haven't been in so long. Glad you had such a lovely trip. Happy belated birthday.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, yes it's our favorite place, too, when we're home. It's such a peaceful place. Thanks for the good wishes.

Kenda Turner said...

Thanks for sharing a bit of your journeys :-) Your pictures are lovely. We were privileged to go to Florida's beaches in October--the sounds, smells, and rhythms do something to calm us down, don't they? And my daughter once visited a monarch sanctuary in Mexico--I understand that's a marvelous experience, too!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kenda. Yes, that salty, kelp smell, and the rhythms--they really transport one to someplace calm and private and serene. Your daughter was very lucky. She probably saw the monarchs in full splendor in Mexico.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Happy Belated Birthday! Sounds like you had a great one. I saw a butterfly sanctuary once in Santa Cruz. It was amazing.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Natalie. I really enjoyed the butterfly sanctuary in Pacific Grove. It really was amazing to see all those folded wings. There must have been thousands -- too many for hundreds.

DMS said...

Love these pictures. This sound like an amazing trip. Reading this post made me really want to get away. I would love to see the monarch butterflies as you have described them. Sounds amazing!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

They really are amazing, Jess. Ive seen one or two in our garden (in season) looking beautiful in orange with black lace (which is how their patterns seem to me. But even though their wings were folded and they were drab, just seeing clusters and clusters and knowing those leaves were butterflies . . . well, it blew me away!