I’d had it with trying to finding an ending to my latest book—why did I ever think I was a writer? A good time to take three-month-old Fergie down to the beach for her first visit. She’s a brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier, golden stripey-like. Picture a cross between a pot-bellied pig and a cartoon warthog from Lion King. Jake, her big bro—same breed—led the way. It’s a mile from my house in Laguna Canyon to Main Beach.
With the sky a cerulean blue, a wintery 60 degrees in the sun, 45 in the shade, we headed down the canyon. There were still traces of the knee high river of mud that raged down Canyon Acres just two weeks earlier from our 40 days and 40 nights of rain–okay, a week–now a fine ecru-colored dust that covered the street. Everything else was so green: bushes, trees, those clumps of grass that had appeared overnight; you want to swipe your finger to check for wet green paint.
Fergie either charged forward, or catching sight of her skinny pink leash, latched onto it with her needle-sharp teeth and slammed on brakes–tug-a-war time–forcing me to either stop and play, drag her along, or carry her. With a combo of this and her twelve impassioned pleas to passersby for a little love, we made it down to Main Beach. I was beginning to feel a little edgy at all the time this was taking. I really should’ve stayed home and stuck with wrestling my story to a close.
I jumped onto the sand from the boardwalk. Jake leapt after me, shouting in doggy dialogue, Whoa! there’s those birds again, let me at ‘em! Fergie, still cadging for connection, came to a dead halt at the edge of the boardwalk. A seagull squawked above. Her head jerked up and she stared at the bird, following its flight for a moment. Reflexively, I did the same, caught at the sight of the seagull’s effortless grace as it did wheelies in the sky. Yow. It had been awhile since I’d watched a seagull in flight. Jake barked. Let’s go. He gets his impatience from me.
I gave Fergie’s leash a gentle tug. She tumbled onto the sand and charged after me, head down like one of those bloodhounds on the job, sniffing loudly from left to right. Jake made a mad dash for a clump of sandpipers at the edge of the water and I let him go—leash law be damned—while I watched Fergie on her discovery of sand and sea. At water’s edge, she stopped sniffing, lifted her chin and stared at the expanse in front of her. No way, her look said. She backed up. I sank onto the sand behind her just out of reach of the water and watched as a wave rolled in up to her knees before receding. She froze and looking as if she’d stepped in a pile of shit, high stepped over to me and, with dripping paws, leapt onto my lap.
Jake returned with gifts of seaweed and driftwood and Fergie ventured out again, this time staying clear of the water. In front of me, a watery mirror left behind by the receding ocean reflected a cloud above then was gone. I stared at it willing it back, just like I’d been willing back all those story ideas that had been waking me in the middle of the night only to disappear when I opened my eyes to write them down. I rose to my feet.
It was time to return home to face the blank page. A little more heel-and-Fergie-dragging and I was back in my chair. A few words haltingly appeared out of nowhere, kind of like a door had been cracked, a door whose key had been fashioned from wonder and nature. More words appeared. I was a writer again.