The beach where the Navarro River meets the Pacific ocean hides its wealth.
A muddy parking lot hosts few vehicles on a January Saturday. The half mile road out from highway One that leads north from the San Francisco Bay area is a mostly-paved narrow path threatened by overgrown undergrowth below the eucalyptus … it is driven only by the kind of people who ignore multiple “ROAD CLOSED” signs.

Their cars, mostly four-wheel drive and not-anywhere close to new, stand askew, disregarding any parking markers that may have been installed. Recent high waves leave the sand and gravel smooth almost up to the giant logs moved by bulldozers to delineate the parking area.
A flock of rocks guards the sliver of beach across the river, smooth and all pointed southeast, lolling at the water’s edge. When my aged chocolate lab/Chessie cross perks up her ears and considers placing a foot in the water, two of the rocks turn into seals and splash into the river. One of them barks. My dog is silent and steps back.


My cousin, Christian, and I stumble across the sand along the newest high water mark where fresh detritus forms a line of inquiry along the sand. I reach to pick up an object so shiny and colorful I cannot imagine that it arrived here otherhow than having been dropped by a rich person.
But it is a remnant of abalone honed into a shape a sad person might say is a worried face, another might say is a wary wolflike beast. I turn it over to gauge its rainbow before pocketing it.
Soon my pocket droops with pebbles, small pieces of worn wood, a green triangle of bottle glass.

My Cousin

Christian squats on a log and I click a picture with my phone. His eyes are closed just for that long. When we get to the Buckhorn bar, the only place in Boonville still open for lunch at 3 p.m., I look at the pictures I’ve snapped of him leaping from one log to another. Eyes are closed. Christian reaching to pet the dog, eyes closed. Christian turning toward the seals? yup, eyes closed.
It’s amazing how much we saw, really.