||[Sep. 9th, 2003|07:39 pm]
I remember going to the beach when I was very young. (I've been thinking about the beach a lot lately.) We usually went to Manhattan Beach, on the southern part of Santa Monica Bay. The towns south of the airport are hilly, and in several places, as one approaches from the east, there will be a glimpse of a small part of the oceanic horizon, down at the end of a long road. Then the road runs downhill, and the view is closed off, until you reach the crest of the next hill. This opening and closing and re-opening view of the ocean always fascinated me. I remember those views like a series of snapshots. The last was always the best. Clearing the final hill, the horizon would rise into the sky, and the mass of water roll into view, growing broader, until the shoreline would appear at the bottom of the slope. |
But this visual reward was always preceded by another foreshadowing. Except on days when the wind was blowing west, the ocean could always be smelled before it could be seen. In the south bay, there was also the smell which wafted from the sewerage treatment plant at El Segundo, and the smell of the Standard Oil tank farm in the same city. Also, many of the roads in the area were lined with eucalyptus or pepper trees, and their pungent odor was mixed into the brew. But when approaching the beach there would be a certain point, depending on how strong the sea breeze was that day, when the air would become perceptibly cooler, and you would catch the first faint scent of those unmistakable marine odors.
The smell of seaweed remains strong in my memory, but the sight of the horizon and the mass of glittering green water heaving up is the thing I remember most. To this day, whenever I go up a hill beyond which I see only sky, I get an odd, brief expectation that, when I get to the top, the ocean will appear.