And so, on to the beach

To people hunkered down in snowstorms and subzero weather up north, hearing someone living in ideally temperate San Miguel complain about the weather must sound like insufferable whining. Oh shut up! What do you know about cold or winter misery?

Home for the next two weeks.

Except memories are short and feelings about the weather are relative. It’s not remotely as miserable in San Miguel as it is in Chicago, Toronto or Boston, that’s true, but it’s been uncomfortable enough that we have a right to complain and head for the beach.

That’s what Stew and I did on Monday: Pack our bags, pet the dogs and cats good bye, wish Felix well and trek out to Barra de Potosi, an idyllic strip of beach, a six-hour drive from home and about twenty minutes south of Zihuatanejo on the Pacific Coast.

At home the view from our bedroom window had become depressing enough to trigger a medium-rare case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The  landscape is uniformly sere and brown. Organ and prickly pear cacti, pines and other evergreen sentinels futilely try to break up the monotonous palette but they don’t stand a chance. A plague of ravenous grasshoppers during the first half of the winter had also denuded much of the greenery that was left. You pray a careless smoker doesn’t start a brush fire such as the one that devoured the vegetation and damaged several trees on our ranch four or five years ago. 

The subfreezing temperatures, and the relentless wind, that we experienced in New York over the New Year’s holiday should have inoculated us against feeling cold in sunny San Miguel, where thirty degrees overnight is a frightful Arctic wave. But you are where you are, and our house with its tiled floors and single-pane windows at night seemed incurably clammy no matter how much wood we threw in the fireplace or how many space heaters we enlisted.

Our dogs, curled up into furry doughnuts, would plead with their eyes to stay in the garage–just this one night–instead of the basement. “We won’t mess up anything,” they’d say, and for the most part they wouldn’t. For the most part, except for Domino, the single male in the pack of five, who can’t resist anointing one of the car’s tires, just once in while and just for the heck of it.

But enough complaining. Now we’re on the porch of our bungalow, twenty feet from the beach, and another hundred feet from where the waves constantly caress the sand except late in the afternoon when they whip up a bit of a dander.

But what do you do all day? Some friends grow anxious if there’s not something to do, all the time. Isn’t there a tour we can go on? A boat to go fishing, perhaps? A crowded restaurant where other people’s chatter will help us pass the time until the next meal? What’s on TV tonight anyway?

Is the internet working? Ah, I must confess I haven’t kicked my news habit. Reading about Trump is like craning your neck when driving past a gruesome car accident: Your curiosity is embarrassing but you can’t help yourself. (A grand Red Square-style military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue? Is Putin part of the organizing committee?)

Otherwise we haven’t even been nudged by boredom. Reading is consuming most our time, finishing up books and magazines that had been languishing on the nightstand or on the Kindle, and trying new ones. Books about the tsunami in Japan several years ago and the expedition by Aurel Stein–one of  those archetypal British explorers in the mold of Robert Falcon Scott or Ernest Shackelton–who a hundred years ago went looking for Buddhist treasures along the Silk Road. Or Mary Oliver’s lovely “Dog Songs,” a book of poetry that so reminded Stew and me of our own mutts. Next up is “Here in Berlin” by Cristina Garcia, whose “Dreaming in Cuban” I read several years ago. Have only read ten percent of Berlin, but that’s enough to fall again for her lovely writing.

The sky is clear. It’s about eighty degrees, with a gently blowing breeze. Aaron Copland’s arrangement of the Shaker melody “Simple Gifts,” from his “Appalachian Spring”, finished playing on the radio a few minutes ago. A small group of people just gathered on the beach and are pointing to a whale puffing and cruising about a half mile from shore.

14 thoughts on “And so, on to the beach

  1. I’m a native Californian; going to the beach is primal therapy for me. We had reservations to stay five weeks in San Miguel, starting January 1, but we couldn’t do it (and we’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for the last 18 years). After three weeks, we headed to the AA convention in Puerto Vallarta and stayed for two more weeks in a little apartment high up on a hill where we could feel warm breezes and see the open water. Bliss! Now we’re in Guadalajara for seven weeks, enjoying real “eternal spring.” Read on, and let lots of sand get between your toes!


  2. I'm SO glad you're there. Also glad you are reading the book about Aurel Stein. It is RAINING today in SMA. I mean REALLY raining. It has been for the last TWO hours. The dust can settle. Barra de Potosi is a favorite place of mine for the express reason that there is not much to do which allows one to do nothing or to lay in a hammock at one of the palapa restaurants while they bring food and drinks! How sweet it is….enjoy.


  3. Stew regards the beach as primal therapy too. And the gloominess of San Miguel was getting the best of us. We thought of going to the AA jamboree in Puerto Vallarta but then forgot about it. How was it?al


  4. An email from a friend in Chicago confirms your forecast. We used to have a very modest lakeside cottage north of Chicago and I fondly remember waking up to a pristine snow cover. Our dog Pooch loved it too. But after 24 hours the charm wears off. Al


  5. Really enjoyed the Stein book. What an intrepid little twerp! I've had fleeting encounters with Buddhism and found the very last part of the book, and the explanation of the Diamond Sutra, pretty interesting. GLAD they're getting some rain in SMA. Maybe the place will green up a bit by the time we get back. Al


  6. Oddly, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with our friends from BC that we don’t see since we moved to Vancouver Island. We have a history of attending recovery events in our travels and we usually enjoy them. (The Hawai State Convention, where it rained everyday, not so much!) Mostly, we’re reminded of who we are and get to be a part of a big whole. PV has a great location at the Westin; we’re not usually resort people so it’s a nice splurge for us.


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