Agate Beach, Patrick’s Point State Park, CA
Sabbatical painting, 1976: . . . The low sun disappears behind a fog bank on the horizon. Colors soften somewhat to an orange–violet, but the fog veils any dramatic drop into the ocean. My painterly eye records the monochromatic color scheme. Why does it seem so right? Everything belongs here . . . (Excerpt from The Road to Beaver Park, p. 8** )
Part 1: Trial Run to the Coast
In 1976 we began our life-changing Sabbatical journey with a spring vacation trip to the Northern California coast. We wanted to road test our equipment for the year–long journey that we were planning. That spring camping trip told us what we needed to know: no, the current camping set up would not work. We needed a more substantial rig and better gear to camp out for a whole year, something that would hold up in all kinds of weather and topography. (Read the whole story in my Beaver Park memoir.)
Patrick’s Point was our camping destination that spring. The painting is of Agate Beach, one of the many beaches along the Northern California coastline that yield up an agate or two. My crazy family spends hours looking for those little, mostly white streaked rocks. It’s fun to watch everyone out on the gravel/sand area walking around heads down, scanning the gravel and seemingly oblivious to the grand scale of scenery with coastal strand spreading north into the sea mist, the waves that thunder in (we watch out for sleeper waves on this coast area), the ragged forest on the rim of land that rises abruptly from the sea. The searchers wait for another big wave to come in and roll the rocks around, and then with bended heads they start the slow walk again. I’m not good at seeing agates. Everyone in my family has tried to coach me, but the little gray–looking rocks all look alike to me. As I was giving up in frustration the last time I was there, a complete stranger walked over and gave me his good–sized agate so I wouldn’t go back to camp empty–handed. I still have that agate.
The Agate Beach watercolor sketch was quickly brushed onto the paper I carried in my backpack. That was one of those lucky times when the process flowed from the start to a fairly quick finish, and I had the courage to stop brushing on color before I ruined it. I had hiked down to the beach on the forest trail that led to good–sized log steps chained together for the last drop to the sand. After I took a turn at agate hunting I looked for a place to sketch. I had no sooner dropped my pack and plunked down beside it in the sand, when I saw the scene. I immediately pulled out my equipment. A misty rain cloud was coming my way so I had to move fast. My painting was barely dry when I slipped it back into my pack to avoid raindrops.
The area continues to be a favorite with our family, although now we live many miles away and can’t visit very often. Yet it’s still an important part of our family vibe. By this time all the grandchildren have been there too. All the camping trips and nature lore have settled into our bones and bloodstream. Maybe by this time it has re-shaped our DNA. Almost daily we plan the next trip, trying to figure out when we can get one on the calendar. It’s some kind of a personal and also collective yearning to return. Just to be there would be wonderful. The azaleas might be in full bloom, or the rhododendrons. You see, I can’t stop thinking about it.
What draws you into the Great Outdoors? Have you ever experienced that yearning? Read more on the next Blog about what triggers this yearning for me.
**The Road to Beaver Park, Painting, Perception, and Pilgrimage by J. E. Kirk (Resource Pub/Wipf & Stock: 2016). http://amazon.com http://BarnesandNoble.com http://Indiebound.com http://wipfandstock.com