August 17, 2005

Corallina Cove

I took a morning walk with Ethan. My eight year-old son and I ventured out onto the bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean at Montaña de Oro State Park. The sky was typically overcast, but the waves were a lot smaller than I had seen them in the past, when we used to live nearby, and winter storms offshore would send massive waves of fifteen or twenty feet crashing against the cliffs, the spray reaching to the trails on top.

We walked down the steps to Corallina Cove. The top half of the steps were carved into the bluff; the bottom half followed a deep ravine created by storm runoff. The staircase was the only way in or out of the cove. The cliffs which surrounded the cove were vertical and unstable. A pile of boulders and hardened clods of soil laying on the beach across the cove testified to the continuing shaping of the landscape by both rain and ocean.

We walked out to the tide pools, my son and I. Not many others were present this early in the morning. We enjoyed looking at anemones as large as my outstretched hand. The sign at the top of the staircase said that octopi lived here also, and we searched, but didn't see any. However, we did find sea stars and crabs and tiny fish swimming among the seaweed. The sea is full of life, and we were careful not to disturb it. We didn't gather shells. We were careful about where we stepped. After all, life is precious.

We headed back toward the staircase, and noticed the crumbled cliff. The sea can also be destructive.

"Do you see that crumbled cliff?" I asked.


"Do you see the way the waves have eaten away at the rocks, carving them into all those fantastic shapes?"


"With every wave, the ocean attacks these cliffs. With every wave, a part of the cliff is destroyed. It may be only one speck at a time, or it may be a huge section that falls from the cliff. But with every wave, a part of it is destroyed."



"Hey, Dad, look at this rock I found on the beach. It has a hole right through the middle!"

"Cool.... Do you know how that hole got there?"


"The waves pushed tiny pieces of sand into the rock, and after many years, carved that hold in that rock."


I thought about what led me to take Ethan for this walk. After breakfast, he had become agitated, and got into a yelling match with his Mom. Mean, hurtful things were shouted back and forth, and the only way to restore some peace, I knew, was to take Ethan away. Our walk was really an extended "time out," though in disguise.

"Son, do you remember how you got angry at Mom this morning, back at the campsite? Do you remember how you yelled at her, and made her upset? When you do that, you're just like these waves, but instead of eating away at cliffs, you're eating away at people. Instead of carving a hole through the middle of a rock, you're carving a hole through the middle of someone's heart. And slowly, over time, you are destroying that person's spirit."

My sister and her family arrived at the cove, and we explored some more with them. Then we walked back to the campsite, and spoke no more of the waves. Later in the day, we returned to Corallina Cove, with our whole family. Ethan didn't pay much attention to the cliffs, but he was excited to show his Mom all the life that could be found in the tide pools.

photo of Corallina Cove by L.S. O'Conner

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