St. Valentine’s Day is coming. Lots of ads in newspapers suggesting gifts for this special day. Everywhere one looks are depictions of hearts — red hearts, lots of red hearts. But this is a day of more than red hearts and chocolate in myriad forms; this is a day of yellows — lots and lots of yellows.
The parking lot at Moonstone Beach is nearly full. Man, middle of February and hardly any parking spaces. What happened to the “off season” around here?
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On the car’s radio, an announcer reports on record cold temperatures and snow storms in the Midwest and back East. Minneapolis is experiencing only a nickel to the good on this sun-washed, clear and comfortable day in Cambria. Br-r-r-r.
Set after set of four- to five-foot waves rise up and crash on the sparkling blue-green water. Several surfers in black wetsuits skim across the faces of these superbly-shaped waves to the delight of tourists from places without waves.
I decided to pay Art Van Rhyn a visit at his Moonstone Drive gallery. Nary a parking spot near his place, so I have to park half a block away. Our casual conversation pauses when a couple enters the gallery to have a look around.
“My, you certainly have nice weather here in Came-bria,” the woman says. “Back home in New York, it has been in the 20s and 30s for most of January. This is wonderful!”
Rather than the drab colors of winter back wherever, Cam-bria is festooned in shades of yellow at this time of year. The acacias are nearly finished with their lovely annual display; oxalis is emerging on vacant lots and hillsides; some of the 70,000 daffodil bulbs sold by the Cambria Garden Club through the years can be seen in gardens and planter boxes around town. Strolling on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, one finds harbingers of buttercups and other wildflowers along the paths.
And it’s also the time of year when the pine trees “candle.” Pistils rise on pine branches — looking like yellow candles — shedding yellow pollen into the breeze, coating everything in sight with powdery fairy dust and providing weeks of constant sneezing, coughing and runny eyes to those subject to allergies.
Fortunately, it usually rains during candling time, providing a bit of relief to those who suffer. Guess I can hold off washing my car and let Mother Nature do the job.
Yep, I do love February in Cambria. It is a month of yellows and of green hills — usually.
A visiting friend from Kansas once observed, “You Californians have it all backwards, John. You’re green in winter and brown in summer – the opposite of what we have in Kansas.”
Perhaps so, but anytime of the year is the time for chocolate.
Addendum: This column was submitted last Monday — it rained on Tuesday. Timing is everything.
John Brannon writes about Cambria life weekly in The Cambrian. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.