GUEST POST: Earth Day Reflections from a Rock in Newport Beach
Words and photography by Guest Contributor Paul Bivens
Yesterday was Earth Day, April 22, five weeks into quarantine.
It’s certainly been interesting; airports are empty, beaches are closed, restaurants are only open for takeout and 30% of the country is unemployed. As Bob Dylan says, times they are a changin’. But really they are, and there’s no telling how long this will last or how the world will behave after this is over.
Like many of you, I’ve missed running away for a weekend and getting lost in the great outdoors. So, here I am, sitting on an oddly uncomfortable rock perched high above the Pacific Ocean on Crystal Cove’s El Moro Canyon, for a quiet hometown adventure. With camera by my side, I take time to write down a few thoughts …
Parking lots and campsites are closed but the trails remain open. My girlfriend and I parked at Trader Joe’s, (shhh, don’t tell). There does seem to be less traffic on the road but this is California; Porsches and Maseratis are still roaring up and down Pacific Coast Highway.
The ocean has a deep blue color, turning to a reddish-brown hue along the shoreline. This is the red tide, and it’s caused by gangs of aquatic microorganisms. Insects buzz around my head and land on my back. Bugs never really bothered me much but I am starting to wonder why I’m still sitting on this ungodly rock right now. It’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I like this time of day. It’s warm and you can feel the sun kissing your skin but it’s not too bright. The sun isn’t smack dab in the middle of the sky; it also hasn’t quite turned to the gooey, honeyed light you get during that romantic golden hour.
I know it’s spring and SoCal did get a week of rain recently but wow, the wildlife in this area is truly alive. Large swarms of bees fly from flower to flower. Rabbits hop along the earth with lizards scuttling nearby. Monkey flower and black sage bloom in the sunshine. Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds flutter. Hawks and crows hunt from high in the sky. Large populations of snails cling to the tall, breeze-blown grass. It all seems so peaceful, huh? Life without humans.
PAUL BIVENS is a photographer based in Newport Beach, Calif. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Instagram, @pauliebivens.