R is for realization. Across from Twin Lakes beach in Santa Cruz, there is a small natural history museum graced with a life size sculpture of a gray whale, installed beneath a grove of native cypress trees. It totally does not meet any safety standards, and has been a beloved part of the community for as long as I can remember. Maddie and I visited today.
Scaling and traversing the whale is a challenge, even for the brave Maddie. For me, the place is awash with memories — I probably have not been there since her mother was young — but for Maddie it is all new and interesting. The museum itself has stayed up to date, which I am glad to see, and we spent an hour enthusiastically exploring the exhibits. The old neighborhood of beach cottages has gentrified, but the museum grounds are the same, a small city block of mature cypress, eucalyptus, oak and bay trees. Small orange flags mark where native annuals and perennials have been planted. A rain-swollen tiny stream was running full to the beach; ferns and mushrooms in abundance. To be in two places in time, in one place, with an agile, active five-year-old pointing out details is to realize a continuum of experience so transcendent and joyful that there’s really nothing more important than deciding where to go for lunch. (Bagelry, Seabright.)