Bonnie Henry: Down by the sea: Zonie drawn to peaceful shores

2012-10-21T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T16:53:32Z Bonnie Henry: Down by the sea: Zonie drawn to peaceful shoresBonnie Henry Special to The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

We come from the sea. We return to the sea. It's a draw I've felt nearly all of my life, mainly in the San Diego area. For years we camped along its beaches - beaches in some cases soon to be smothered in golf courses and fancy resorts.

And so we moved on to the many motels that hug the coastline. There, we celebrated family gatherings and birthdays, holidays and anniversaries - desert dwellers reveling in the cool, cool air, amidst a flowering landscape that wouldn't last a day in Tucson.

A few days ago, my husband and I returned to the seashore, eager to soak up the salt air and cool our toes in the unceasing surf. We stayed in a motel a half-block from the beach - the kind of place where the maids don't always get all the sand that drifts into the corners of the bathroom.

No matter. Neither did it seem to be a problem with the rest of the guests - 75 percent Zonies, I'd say, judging by the license plates out in the parking lot.

When the kids and grandkids were along, we would do the Sea World/San Diego Zoo thing. But this time, we were just here to relax, consume some fresh seafood, whatever.

Besides, if it's entertainment you crave, a stroll along the walkways of Pacific Beach will suffice: skateboarders and bicyclists rolling by, bikini-clad California girls, surfers shimmying into their wetsuits, runners in neon gear - which seems to be undergoing a fashion resurgence.

Some appeared to be regulars - the guitar players at sunset, the legless man in the mornings, who rested each day on a bench by the walkway, artificial limbs at his side. "Have a great day," he hollered out to us without fail.

Then there were the dogs. Everyone in San Diego County must walk their dog here, it appears. And yet, we were surprised at how little - um - dog poop there was, despite the absence of scolding signs to "Pick up after your pet." Californians, it turns out, are a considerate lot, at least in this regard.

On our last day, it rained - no more than a sprinkle where we were, but heavier in some parts of the city. Judging by the TV weathercasters, you'd have thought old Noah himself was preparing to launch.

You think we get excited about rain in the desert? It approaches near-hysteria in San Diego, which it turns out, had received only 8 inches of rain in the last 12 months - 4 inches less than normal for the year.

Despite the rain, the clouds lifted by sunset, giving us a blood-orange sun slipping into a shimmering silver sea. We were seated outdoors at one of our favorite cafes, waited on, it turns out, by a woman whose dad, years ago, taught my class in photojournalism at the University of Arizona.

The next morning at breakfast, a man from Tucson recognized me from my picture in the newspaper and we got to talking. He told me his dad, a faithful reader, had recently passed away from cancer. I told him about my dad, who had met the same fate six years ago.

Several mornings before, with the seagulls shrieking overhead and the sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline beyond me, I dropped the last of my dad's ashes into the sea - a sea he loved as much as I still do.

We come from the sea. We return to the sea. It's as simple as that.

Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at Bonniehenryaz@gmail.com

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