Santa Monica, CA — Groundhog Day!
Of course, my thoughts drift to Groundhog Hill and to my hometown of Hodgenville, KY, a spot my Father, James D. La Rue Jr. (1919-2014), frequently and lovingly called The Garden Spot of the Universe. I continue his tradition.
I awaken at 4 AM these days. Years of Dawn Patrol Surfing have seemingly and permanently adjusted my Body Clock to this pre-dawn setting. Some days, I make Coffee at home, turn on National Public Radio, and fire up the laptop.
Mostly, I head down to Main Street for a hot, delicious Latte at Peets Coffee, a coffee shop frequented by locals. Lattes are delicious.
In the pre-dawn hours, customers tend to be Beach Employees: Lifeguards, Cops, Firefighters, Surfers and Swimmers. Or, East Coasters who haven’t yet adjusted to Pacific Standard Time. A motley crew, indeed.
Marvin, the Barista who opens the store most days, is a handsome American of Mexican descent. We’ve known each other for years, so our greeting usually consists of a simple exchange:
My sister Paula would dig Peets as it’s Santa Monica’s version of her Hodgenville-based café, The Hot Biscuit: Not a lot of talking. Just hot coffee. Newspapers. Apple computer products. Brief discussions of surf conditions.
Lately, the conversation has been dominated about Drought and the fact that, after five tough years, California might see relief after a record Winter rain and snowfall. So, when I hear that Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow today, predicting six more weeks of Winter, I am gladdened.
More Rain, please. More Snowfall in the High Sierras, please. As my favorite La Rue County farmer Cleve McStubbins likes to say, Never Complain About The Rain!
From what I hear, Hodgenville has seen a very mild Winter with lots of Rain and very little Snowfall. Spring Bulbs should be emerging from the warm ground, the precursor to lots of Jonquils, Daffodils and Tulips. March flowers.
Seed catalogs are probably not being read at 308 So. Greensburg Street. Ya never know. I get emails from Johnny’s Select Seed Co., but I delete them without reading them. Not much gardening going on here. I left my green thumb in Hodgenville. Along with my bib overalls.
Board Shorts, Flip Flops and Coppertone are my gear of choice, these days. Winter calls for a heavy wetsuit, as well. I tend to surf very little in the winter months, especially when it rains because storm runoff pollutes the Pacific Ocean. Surfers are cautioned not to get in the water for three days after a significant rainstorm. I heed the warnings.
Wisdom does come with Age.
Once armed with Coffee, I head to the beach here in Ocean Park and meet up with the locals and talk surf conditions, aches and pains, and politics. It’s a fun way to start one’s day. Again, much like mornings at The Hot Biscuit.
To see the sun rise over Venice Beach is a magical moment. The world has turned once again, and a new day is offered and gratefully accepted. And to begin one’s day in Gratitude, well, that’s pretty special. A moment of Divinity, if you will.
Today, Groundhog Day, I feel grateful for Groundhog Hill, my somewhat Secret Garden, and my time spent there: Planning the garden, tilling the soil, sowing seeds, and pulling weeds was time well spent. Such a Gift!
I feel grateful for my parents, for my family, friends and connections.
I carry all that I learned with me and hold it close. Perhaps, that’s what makes one a Master Gardener/Surfer. Or not. Six more weeks to ponder and such.
(Photos courtesy of Luke Sandberg of Surreal Surf Adventure Co., Stefan Pinto, and Yours Truly.)