Yesterday I left San Francisco early and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, from Pacifica to Montara Beach, which is a spectacular long beach of majestic beauty, especially when seen from the cliffs above. 

The air was balmy for this place and this time of year. No sweaters needed.

The air was also unusually clear. You could see all the way from Montara Beach, just north of Half Moon Bay, to the mountains and coastline of Marin County, normally far out of view.

And then I went to the Distillery, a few miles south, which has a great view of nearly 180 degrees looking out onto this vast and gorgeous ocean.

I stayed from before 5:00 until after sunset, relaxing, healing from the beauty, the ocean air, and the gentle sound of the ocean’s waves.  At 7:49 p.m., the appointed time, the sun sank into the waves. 

But only after what seemed to be a long and drawn-out struggle, with the sun clinging by its finger-tips to the far horizon.  Somehow I knew the sun didn’t want to leave me and this marvelous day, just as I was reluctant to see her slip away. 

And, remarkably, I saw the green flash!


How many times I’ve looked out upon this ocean, squinting into the last seconds of the sun’s voyage across the sky, with the fervent hope of seeing the “green flash”. 

What I saw was not “kind of” or “I think I saw it” or “something green”, but a clear fash of green within the narrow belt of light that marked the horizon. A real green flash!

Like a small lightning flash, and green.  Another followed. In fact, there were two green flashes, both fairly far off to the left of the sun slipping into the sea.  Suprisingly far away, to me, who had always looked close to the sun.

So there you have it.  A green flash, unexpected and not quite where you expected to find it.

As the sunlight faded, the full moon, already up in the sky after waiting patiently for her moment, appeared in all her radiant beauty.

I recalled Eric Rohmer’s classic, 1986 French movie on summer vacation, being alone, and the immense possibilities of every moment.  See Le rayon vert ( “The Green Ray”, released as “Summer” in North America).

As recounted above, looking out from the Distillery, you can see almost 180 degrees of the Pacific Ocean on the horizon, and the curvature of the earth. It is absolutely amazing to see so clearly the curvature of the earth.

What is it about this immense ocean and its remarkable beauty that gives it such healing force?

Today the hot spell continues, with temperatures over 80 degrees (F) expected in Half Moon Bay.

It is a good day not to work.

I have my towel, my suntan lotion, my cooler, and the beautiful woman I know who also loves the ocean.

And we are off to the beach!

Captain Jim

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