Art begets art.
I usually try to escape the long, cold Calgary winter when I have time off for spring break, and if I’m not exploring I like to write. The warm relaxing climate and the inspiration of the ocean brings out the creativity in me, and judging from the freely-offered art and writing that I see around beach towns, it’s clear I’m not the only one inspired.
I’m so glad the locals in some places consider this form of art worthy of permanent all-weather plaques. Here are several I’ve run across in my past few trips.
Shell Beach Symphony
Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles is Pismo Beach, California. I’d heard of Pismo Beach (most recently on an episode of I Love Lucy!), but never been there, so I skipped my usual southern California spots in favor of this more central area. I stayed in a residential neighborhood called Shell Beach.
Wandering around the small neighborhood and the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I discovered a little park. Running around the park’s perimeter alongside the cliffs is a sidewalk that passes a plaque on the ground. The lovely words on it share sentiments that perfectly describe my feelings toward the ocean.
Ever rising ever falling
Sound of surf
Sings its song to the eternal
Winds and man they come and go
But the rising falling crawling sea
Always was always is
Always free B.B.
December 12, 1974
Nearby on the sandy beach, I enjoyed warm-hearted greetings written daily in the sand by some unknown but obviously beautiful people. The longer I stayed there, the more I found the neighbors to be friendly and welcoming. Thank you Shell Beach!
“Don’t worry ‘bout a thing”
“Warm and fuzzy”
I lived in San Diego for a while and my favorite place there is Pacific Beach near the Crystal Pier.
This past April I noticed a large statue named “Pelican Pete” near the PB lifeguard station. On a plaque is the story of Pelican Pete in rhyme.
“The Ballad of P.B.
Pelican Brown was in search of a home
where he could have fun and relax
he looked for a beach that was pretty
and a sea that was swimming with snacks.
He flew up and down the long coastline
looking both far and quite near
then one day he knew he had found it
when his eyes saw the great Crystal Pier.
On the end was a big crystal ballroom
dancers came from all over the west
and since Pelican Brown loved to tango
he dressed up in his best velvet vest.
He fit right in with the others
tangoed many a night until dawn
Pelican Brown loved the beat of the music
and danced until the others were gone.
Then he’d fly out and find him some breakfast
the happiest bird all around
and everyone loved when they looked up
and caught sight of Pelican Brown.
The dancing bird soon became famous
people came from all over to see
the great crystal ballroom and dance hall
and the pelican known as P.B.
(Poem by Jan Phillips copyright Jan Phillips, Concept and sculpture by T.J. Dixon & James Nelson)
And here is one of many San Diego murals I ran across, on the outside wall of a business:
La Jolla Lifeguard Box
There is a pathway that goes along the shore in La Jolla, not too far north of Pacific Beach. If you take it past the sea lions and seals at Children’s Pool Beach (Casa Beach) and keep walking along the shore pathway, just before you get to La Jolla Cove you will see a lifeguard box which has a phone in it for emergencies (unlocked during the summer).
Lifeguard box and La Jolla Cove
Engraved on the box is this text:
FRESH DEEP SOUL PURITY
SPRAY GENTLE BREEZE
WAVES BREEZE REEFS
BODY SURF RESPECT ROCK
WORMS FINS ENDLESS
A FREE SPIRIT PALM TREE
FUN EEL GRASS MAGIC
ETERNAL CALM PICNIC
BUNGALOWS YIN YANG
I searched around for the story of this lifeguard box with all the interesting words, and found this account :
High on a craggy bluff overlooking the churning surf in La Jolla stands this weathered sea-green box, a proud, life-affirming icon dedicated to lifeguards everywhere, embossed with transcendent words and phrases that evoke the heart and soul of the brave men and women who save lives on this rugged coast. Take a closer look, and you’ll see how beautifully these words connect us with the creed that draws lifeguards and surfers to the Pacific: “spray, waves, eel grass, tranquility, spirit, adrenaline.” The box demonstrates the power of primal engagement with the forces of nature in all sorts of fields and pursuits, in taking the time and effort to carve out our unique and vital code.
…The long summer days remind us to pause and reflect and experience life anew. This box is more than just a box. It’s about life and death, a memorial to a legendary body surfer and lifeguard who drowned here at Boomer Beach. During the summer the box is unlocked and contains a phone to contact the lifeguards during an emergency. Read downwards starting under the “E” of LIFEGUARD, and you will find his name spelled out in an acrostic puzzle: DAVID C FREEMAN.
What a lovely surprise to discover Beach Literature, and the fond memories of those who live there, adding to the enjoyment of already idyllic spots! I hope you enjoyed these gems, and you’ll share similar discoveries of your own!