Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Slice of Santa Barbara, or: Time, The Ocean and Two Cloudy Days


What can I say about this place? That I came up from L.A. thirty years ago for air and stayed? That I'd grown allergic (literally) to the L.A. smog? That Santa Barbara called me here, then swallowed me like a blotter absorbing ink? Quietly, painlessly, the years dissolved. When I drive through the city now, on my way to the library, or to buy a gift for a friend, I coast the familiar streets with their rock-lined hedges, their bougainvillea, oaks and palms . . . and I wonder . . . how it could be that all those days have washed away and left barely a ripple?

Today, under dense clouds, while most of the world is churning, and I can practically hear it groan, I've decided to stop at the beach and take a peek at what lies beyond the hedges and the rock walls. What color is the ocean today? My guess is that it's opal. And who waits on the sand? It's safe to say seagulls. But what I know deep down, is that there, beside the water, no matter how cloudy or sunny, at high tide or low, what I'm certain to find, hovering in the mist -- is some kind of magic.


 Yesterday, when I took myself to the beach, after writing that a visit to the ocean guaranteed magic, I found myself on a cloud-shrouded shore at high tide. To my left, a cove lined with cottages, arced to the south, with only a thin strip of private beach untouched by the high tide.

To my right, beside the beach wall, sat a girl in a turquoise T-shirt, with long, blonde surfer-girl hair. Perfectly still, she stared toward the inaccessible north coast.

I stood on a small patch of beach in front of a storm drain. This was not what I'd had in mind when I predicted magic. I had pictured myself walking beside the water with my arms and legs swinging in sync with the rhythms of the surf. Instead, I perched on a pile of rocks and gazed at the agate ocean as it pushed and pulled and pulsed.

When I looked back toward the cove, I saw a tiny being on the sand: a squat toddler in bright blue shorts. He took solid steps and seemed amazed that he was upright as he planted each foot like a stake in the sand, fully at home in his world.

To my right, the girl at the beach wall, like a painting by Andrew Wyeth, continued to sit and stare. Behind me, stood a mass of concrete, etched and pock-marked with erosion. On closer inspection, I found within it and around it an eerie gallery of strangely stunning modern art.

    And that was the picture, nothing dazzling, nothing bright -- a quiet diffused scene.

Later in the day, while hiking in the hills, after the sun had finally broken through, I caught a glimpse of The Islands and was amazed to see that they had completely changed from what they were earlier in the day. In the morning, at the beach, The Islands had been fuzzy and charcoal gray; now, from out of nowhere, they bared the clearest typography I'd seen in years.

**Be cool all of you lovely people. I'll be posting again on August 20th. ~ Anitra


  1. Hey Hey Aneet,

    These shots you took are beautiful. Love the photos of the low hanging clouds, the heart shaped rock and the last shot of the ocean. I could easily take 30 years of this!


    1. Hey hey Jonathan,

      It's always a treat to hear from you. So glad you like the photos; you obviously understand :)

      My warm wishes, ~ Aneet

  2. Stunning as always Aneet!!!
    Your writing and photography soothes the soul!


    1. Hello Terry,

      Delightful to hear from you. I am touched by your generous words. So happy you liked the post.

      My heartfelt good wishes to you, ~ Aneet

  3. Friday... Magic found me... My favorite blogger (other than the grumpy old man who stares back from the mirror) had left a new post... she wrote about wandering down to Santa Barbara, tired of the LA smog... and I thought about a younger version of the grumpy old man, before he decided he really wanted to wear a beard, who wandered into the desert country of southwest Texas almost fifteen years ago, ten years after he first visited it, in search of clean air and tired of measuring life by the numbers of airports he passed through in a day... and I reread the beautiful words of the kind and beautiful lady from Santa Barbara... smiling at the magic she found in squat toddlers, cali girls blonde and in search of a surf board, rocks and waves arranged by Mama Nature into Her version of modern pop art... and then I said to myself that the man in the desert should say thank you to the lady who walks by the shore for another gift of magic... thank you, Anitra...

    1. Louis,

      You're so welcome. And thank you for your playful and lyrical prose. The "he/she" second person perspective is an interesting point of view.

      I enjoyed hearing about your background. You obviously have many tales to tell. I understand your attraction to the clean dry air of the desert. Thanks so much for sharing some of your history with us.

      Sending my good wishes Louis, ~ Aneet

  4. Aneet-

    What a wonderful post. Your photos and words conjure up memories of long and lazy summer days at the beach when I was a kid. The coastline is enchanting no matter what type it is. It could be the rocky and brush-filled Palos Verdes peninsula, the rugged and green coast of the Pacific Northwest, or the lush and verdant coastlines of Hawaii or Tahiti.

    I'm so happy that Santa Barbara has treated you so well these many years.

    Regards and best wishes,


    1. Joseph, hello,

      It's always lovely to read your impressions. Your descriptions take me there.

      I don't know if Santa Barbara has consistently treated me well. But when not, it's been all too easy to forgive.

      Cool breezes to you Joseph, ~ Anitra

  5. Hello Anitra,

    I find it remarkable how you see your home, Santa Barbara, with new eyes each time you release the shutter on your camera. In the freshness of your photos I can taste the salt air. You are among the fortunate few who when called to your place stayed and made it yours.

    I have to go back to honing my new recipe for licorice pancakes.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I appreciate your sensitivity, your insight and your sense of humor!

      So good to hear from you, ~ Aneet

      PS: Don't burn those pancakes.

  6. That last pic does it for me; amazing what an "HD telephoto" effect provided by clear, calm air can be like. Looks like you could just step across to the islands. What a lovely contrast to the heat and murk we've been enduring here in the Midwest, although we did get a respite this weekend.

    As always, the prose complements the pics perfectly; your words truly do bring your pictures to life. I'd kinda like to see what effects you'd get shooting in the rather "thick" air we have here. No smog to aggravate the allergies; just natural high humidity, and plenty of blazing sunshine.

    Up for a road-trip, M'Lady???

  7. Chris, hello there,

    Glad you like the photo of The Islands. It was truly stunning to see. And thank you for your generous words. As to shooting photos in the Midwest, I have taken a slew of them. Mostly in Milwaukee. You can catch a few in two posts that I made in Jan., 2011. I found Milwaukee to be a very picturesque place. And then, of course, there are those incredible 4 seasons.

    I think that magic is most everywhere if you have the appetite.

    Thanks for sharing a smile. My good wishes to you Chris, ~ Anitra

    1. My pleasure, Dear Heart.

      Your Milwaukee pics are most charming and evocative {natch}, but they don't quite capture the specific quality I have in mind. The easiest way to describe it is to picture an open stretch of highway on a very hot day - the way the road shimmers, or seems to have "puddles" on it in the distance. Now, put the shimmer and puddles in the very air ABOVE ground level, and that's what I'm describing. It's a unique phenomenon I'm sure my fellow Midwesterners here would instantly recognize, but it's as elusive as hell to try to capture on film. I've seen perhaps a handful of shots in print or on this Interwide-web thingy over the decades that captured it adequately.

      As for the four seasons, both Cali and Colorado {among others} have struck me as amusingly outrageous, in that you can experience two different seasons together simultaneously. When I lived in Colorado during the early '90's, I always got a kick out of starting off at the base of Pikes Peak in shorts and 80 degree temps, only to wind up shivering in a snow squall at the top!

      Kinda like putting a hot tub in an igloo, dig?

      Keep up the good work Luv, and please pass along a tender kiss to my dear Sveltana next time ya see her, if ya would?


    2. Hi Chris,

      I'd like to see the phenomenon you describe. We see plenty of those "puddles" on desert highways and usually think of them as mirages.

      Weather can be a fascinating subject to consider and explore -- especially if one slows down enough to really be present and notice.

      Thank you for your good wishes Chris, I can accept your sentiments, though I will have to pass on the kiss. It's a bit too personal, even for Sveltana.

      Peace and Happiness, ~ Aneet

  8. Hello Sergio,

    Could you contact me through the Facebook message application with your question?

    Sincerely, ~ Aneet

  9. This post is a treat - something special. Cool impressions of beauty and solitude. Love this!

    peace and blessings,


  10. Al, hello, hello,

    So glad that this post reached you and that you were open to its reflective tone.

    Let me return your kind blessings and peace, sincerely,


  11. Can't believe I stumbled upon this blog. Those are beautiful pictures and most inspiring.

    1. Hello Anonymous,

      So glad you happened to find my blog and to leave your lovely message :)

      With appreciation, ~ Anitra