Anyone, who is anyone, knows Jalama Beach on the California coast is a wind surfer’s dream, but anyone, who is anyone, also knows there is a reason why: It’s WINDY. Well, ninety percent of the time, I’d say. Anyone, who is anyone, would agree with me I’d also say. HOWEVER, here’s the rub: Not everyone even knows where and what Jalama (pronounced ha-lama) Beach is. I mean, yeah, it’s a beach; but it’s not your ordinary run-of-the-mill California beach. It’s more like an adjective rather than a noun: It’s… well… Etherial.
It is precisely because of that description rather than definition that I long to be there as many days of the year as I can, which, because we travel a lot to other wonderful places on Earth, isn’t very often. But that’s another story.
My husband was a firefighter. That meant he worked every other day for a while and then had a week off. It happened to be one of those weeks off that we decided to spend at Jalama Beach. We enjoyed a wonderful time there, and when it became time for us to address returning home, I began to get a bit… pouty. He was supposed to work a three-day schedule upon returning and I, in my ever-sideways-thinking-abilities, projected that I stay at Jalama and he could return and join me for the weekend. This was not an easy task for him, let me assure you. We lived and worked in Orange County in southern California. Jalama Beach borders northern California, basically 2 1/2 hours away IF you don’t encounter a snag or two going through Los Angeles (yeah, right). I mean, what could go wrong? We were “camping” in a trailer which was in good working order. We had a very attentive and protective dog (Oscar). It was only three days that he would be gone. The most amazing part of this whole plan was that he agreed.
It was a bright and sunny day that my husband drove off into the sunset leaving Oscar and myself to enjoy each other’s company. As he was driving away I decided to open one of our folding chairs to place on the sturdy wooden table and enjoy the color. Wouldn’t you know it! My fingers got jammed and stuck between the rods! In pain, I couldn’t even wave good-bye or even yell at him to quickly return… he had, by this time, gone beyond the cliff that overlooked the campground. Deciding I was not going to be rescued, I struggled with the dang chair until I was finally able to wrench my fingers free. Alas, as wonderful as my dog was, he was unable to assist me and could only lie there and watch me in my obvious dilemma. I remember thinking, “Egad. Is this a harbinger of things to come?”
As the sun set Oscar and I had dinner inside the trailer as the eternal wind began to get a little stronger. By the time I turned in it had grown into a filibustering tyrant. It occurred to me that the awning attached to our trailer was beginning to behave more like a sail than a shade. I considered bringing it in, but unfortunately it was a two man effort as opposed a woman/dog proposition. By two o’clock in the morning I realized I was going to have to try my best to bring it in alone. In the dark. In the howling wind. In my nightie. Without my underwear (no time).
Out into the unknown I went, struggling at first to keep my dignity in place but then charging the awning full force, running from strut to strut to release locks and pulling the center cord like a window shade to get the thing in motion. It was not agreeable to my efforts.
Did I mention there happened to be other campers in this campground? Until this time, I was remiss in seeing them (watching me) from the moment my husband left until the moment one of them approached me at this ungodly hour and he simply asked, “Do you need help?”
“Ummm… Yes,” (she said understatedly).
Together we tried to roll it back in, but it was to no avail. It was somehow jammed after the wind had had its way with it (and probably me). At that point my rescuer disappeared into the night. I went back into my trailer to sit and ponder life. The next thing I knew was a knock on my door. I was shocked to see a Ranger in full uniform.
“Excuse me, ma’am. Your neighbor here came to get me to help him get your awning rolled back in place. I think I can help you.”
I sat down again. This life thing was getting even more worth a ponder.
Both men worked against adversity but they were able to get the job done. I, of course, thanked both of them over and over for different reasons. It was now 2:30 A.M. for Pete’s sake! Yes, things happen FAST on cold and windy nights.
The following day, those wonderful neighbors who I had met in the dark of the night had to pack up and go home themselves. I was sorry to see them leave as they had given me a sense of security and a new friendship. They, on the other hand, cleaned out their refrigerator of everything and insisted I take it all. They must have been a little worried I would end up isolated on this wind-forsaken beach and would never be seen again.
To the contrary, my husband cheerfully returned in two days asking what was new.
Thinking back, the pictures in my mind were baffling: Wind. Nightie. Fingers. Wind. Neighbors. Ranger. Wind. Underwear. Wind. 2 A.M. Neighbors. Ranger. NO underwear. Wind. A full refrigerator. Overwhelming thankfulness. Oscar.