At least that's what it sounded like, down on the beach of Drake's Bay in the Pt Reyes National Seashore, about a mile or two from a recently established elephant seal rookery. Those guys are way loud, even though at this time of year only the weaned pups (merely a few hundred pounds) were still lurking about. Twenty-five of us gathered last weekend for a Writing Retreat Field Seminar at the refurbished Lifeboat Station, just below Chimney Rock, somewhat south-east of the Pt Reyes Lighthouse. We were here to commune with nature, write ourselves silly and talk shop. The elephant seals trolled along the small beach, watching us wander around with notebooks in hand and our minds off in left field. Whether their explosive guttural outbursts were comments on our looniness, or a mere fact of biology was, at times, a bit difficult to determine.
The elephant seals were not the only creatures around. With the low tide, the sea stars and sea anemones were exposed among the kelpy rocks, seagulls hovered about hoping for handouts, and pelicans, those prehistoric-looking birds, floated by in long banners. And of course, us writers, soaking up sensations and inspiration, working on prompts and/or our own stuff, listening to the ocean, the world, our words, ourselves.
The leaders, Patti Trimble and Susan Bono, did a magnificent job with the diverse range of writing experience and orientations, giving us all room to roam and time to report back. On the first day, they took us on a hike up to the top of the bluff; in the mizzle and mist, we stood there, on the spine of the world, eye-level with the pelicans, one side ocean, the other side bay. The mournful foghorns, the booming waves and the long, low, loud belches filled our ears.
Nature: isn't it grand?
Here's the link to the Pt Reyes Field Seminars, though the Writing Retreat, since it's over, is no longer listed. But there's tons of other seminars .... and there's always next year. Keep your eyes peeled!