© 2019 Claire Fullerton

From a Zuma View 

 

The early mornings on Zuma Beach are hushed; everything is in a state of becoming, waiting for the steel-grey sky to turn to light.  It can take hours no matter the time of year for the day comes on in stages.   The light only suggests itself at first, coming and going behind moving clouds until it is finally full on.  We are experiencing the time of year when it feels as if we are reclaiming our local beach.  Labor Day has come and gone, the kids are back in school, the outlanders have all gone home and we are left with the beach in its natural rhythm.  It is constant and somewhat predictable and there is comfort in the certainty that outside the schedule of our daily lives, on any given day, Zuma Beach retains its own life cycle. 

 

At first light, there is a calling of the guards.   They are the surfers who stand on the side of the PCH pulling on wet suits and gazing out to sea.  There is something so regal about the way they stand as they size up the anatomy of the water, determining if it is friend or foe with eyes that are focused, attentive and aware.  They envision themselves becoming one with the water and this early morning ritual acclimates them to the day.  Many are the local youth catching a wave before school so that they can get it out of their system; others are locals who have been doing this for as long as they can remember because it is in the blood and all are in agreement that Zuma Beach lays like a gift ready for their participation.

 

Next, the women come out.  They meet in pairs or they meet in small groups.  They come for the exercise and the camaraderie; snatching a bit of early morning time before the day begins and they swing into the action of family attendance.  It is an hour or so of reprieve wherein they are free and time is their own; the cares of the world set aside as they strike a cadence on the boardwalk with the wind in their hair and the sun all around them.  It is a moment to connect with each other, a time to take advantage of their surroundings and an ovation to their day. 

 

Early afternoon on Zuma Beach and a lull ensues.  It is an in between time that is quiet yet full of potential.  Erected volleyball nets stand at the ready on recently combed sand.  Here and there, women with small children, perhaps with a nanny in tow settle down to the business of playing in the sand. On the boardwalk, a handful of locals walk the family dog.  An official from the Zuma Lifeguard Headquarters makes the rounds to secure that all is at it should be and there is an anticipatory sense that this dormant state will soon turn to activity.

 

School lets out in the three o'clock hour and the local youth head to the beach.  They cross the PCH at Morning View, teetering on flip-flops with shades perched and pant legs rolled up.  Some carry surf boards just in case and others arrive in packs of friends laughing and clowning around because they are young, they are out of school for the day and they are at the beach. They carry backpacks and wear the latest beach fashion.  I drive by and think this is the California dream.  It is a sideshow comprised of those on the roadside brimming with youth and vitality on the cusp of embracing whatever the beach will bring.  They carry books and talk on cell phones exercising autonomy until it is time to go home to their mothers' dinner.

 

Early evening transits on Zuma Beach and there are those who wait for sunset because they just want to be there. All is quiet, all is still and they move through it casually yet reverentially because it may as well be their front yard. They can see the sun descend, they can hear the swell of the waves and something within them aligns saying this is perfect.  It is the end of the day and they are there standing in witness as the sun sets in a surprising color thinking this is new, this is fabulous and I am here to see it.

 

Overnight comes on Zuma Beach and we don't have to know about it.  All we want to know is that it will still be there in the morning.