The park proper and the nearby university grounds are well groomed, but that area left wild in its natural state does not bode well for fire season. There are signs taped everywhere to remind all that fireworks are illegal. You can't tell just by looking up the hill, but I don't need to be told where the firelines were after the last big blaze when several fires converged and nearly gave us our Nathaniel West ending for the metropolis.
Scarcely two months later was the Northridge Quake. We had houses without chimneys, and chimneys without houses. And the idiots have rebuilt over most of the area burned or shaken with little regard to nature (or the least modicum of taste). There's one house that looks like a beached riverboat on steroids by Malibu High School... is it so wrong of me to have a list of structures I hope will get taken out 'the next time'--and there will be a next time.
The traffic on Pacific Coast Highway scarcely sounds any louder or any different than the waves.
The County lifeguard boat easing along the coastline is the only craft in the water, until one power boat puttering like a bathtub toy cuts a small wake behind it heading in the direction of the Paradise Cove side of Point Dume.
The squirrels check for morsels left by picnickers, but only a few wrappers are to be found. Hopefully the squirrels haven't picked up the nicotine habit. One squirrel stands on his (?) hind haunches to listen to the chimes at Pepperdine call eight o'clock.
A rabbit comes over to the far side of the picnic bench where I set to keep me company, still as a cigar store Indian save for his constant sniffing.
A lizard --the first of many-- darts out from the brush, takes stock of the scene, and scurries back into hiding.
In Spring, this hillside was awash in wildflowers. Now only a few small buds adorn some of the bushes.
Another lizard climbs on a rock to gaze at me. At the chimes marking the quarter-hour, he starts back; another takes his place on the edge of the concrete, as if gazing out over the Pacific.
The waves are more emphatic now that a pair of rabbits and a squirrel sitting atop a picnic table are present to listen. The few humans in sight in the distance, accompanying their dogs on morning strolls, seem as aimless as the wildlife.
After the chimes sound 8:30, voices of a human couple strolling through the park add the first sound of mankind nearby.
Time for me to make my way to the Michael Landon Visitor's Center at the entrance to the park.
Later, a group of cyclists were circumnavigating the park. They join up with others in their jazzy bright blue and red outfits race down PCH. A father and son were hitting balls on the little league field. Only the faintest outline of the coast south of Malibu was yet visible through the haze; a breeze continued to keep the warmth tolerable.
The birds twittered and chattered as before. Some youngsters practiced with soccer ball by the field.
I just make the bus to the Malibu Civic Center. I almost wanted to hike it, but I was a little nervous about snakes. Okay, not a little nervous. This is their time of day to rule the turf.
Later, the heavy traffic forces the bus to take a detour that leaves the bus driver disoriented. The passengers have to disembark, then we have to walk a quarter mile to catch the Santa Monica bus into town. I get to chat with a retired couple from Jones Beach on vacation, amazed at the real estate prices of LA and its vastness.
I convince myself once again that I like LA, for better or worse. You shouldn't have to have a half-hearted excuse for why you live somewhere-- so much of humanity has no say in the matter. It's neat getting to constantly see the city through the giddy eyes of visitors, some of whom are taking their once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to California. The Golden Dream may need a little polishing now and then, but like the top of the Beverly Hills City Hall, when it gleams, man, it gleams.