Out of the Blue: Laguna's beauty and ocean life overwhelms

January 21, 2014|By Billy Fried
  • Sarah Lynch paddleboards next to a whale on a recent beautiful Laguna Beach evening.
Sarah Lynch paddleboards next to a whale on a recent beautiful… (Ty Hagenson )

Our string of perfect weather has been nothing short of ridiculous.

It's hard not to succumb to gloating, especially when one reads about the miserable winter so many are having. But be careful. The duality of life means some sort of divine retribution awaits us.

I make my living off the sun, but these days I pray for rain, and not just because things grow from it and fire is retarded by it, but also because in Mammoth, winter rain is called snow.

Still, it's hard not to marinate in the awesomeness of our awesomeness. I had one such "marination" worth gloating about on Jan. 13. It was late afternoon, and like most days I struggled to finish work and get out the door for a paddle before it was too late. Winter days end too quickly.

My instinct told me to grab my waterproof camera. I couldn't place it, and time was ticking. For a split second I thought about my unprotected iPhone, but for those of you who read my column, you know that was flirting with disaster.


So I left the phone and hoofed it down to Brooks, never breaking stride as the small waves parted and a launch corridor magically opened. A handful of groms were surfing perfect slow rollers in the ultra "flassy" conditions (flat and glassy). I passed the surf zone and headed north through the giant kelp bed that has taken up residence, marvelously stoking our marine life.

I was threading the kelp with a combination of J strokes and sweeps, trying to avoid paddling right through them and experiencing the jerk of kelp catching fins. I looked 10 feet ahead, plotting my next move, like a skier or trail runner.

When I finally looked up to survey my surroundings, I had that moment so many have had through the generations: amazement at how beautiful Laguna is. There is something particularly magical about the late afternoon colors of winter. Photographers call it saturation, that deep, rich palette that nearly drips off your retina.

Our coastline was a vivid mix of dark green and brown, which, mixed with reflections from the sun, actually looked gold. Shiny, gilded and bestowed with embarrassing riches. The sky was a softening powder blue. The water beneath a thick azure with the inviting clarity that makes you thirsty to get in it. I thought, "Where is my camera?"

For a moment I was overtaken with frustration and self-loathing. But then I thought, "So you won't get validation of how great your life is on Instagram. Take a mental picture and get over it."

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