thomas m wilson

The pulse of the sea on a Western frontier.

February 11th, 2008

More thoughts and images from El Sur Grande (The Big South)…  A word on history.  This part of the world has a Spanish name due to its Spanish history, which started a couple of hundred years ago.  In 1770, while James Cook was mapping the east coast of Australia, on the other side of the Pacific the Spaniard Gaspar de Portola was spear-heading the spreading of Catholic missions to this part of the world. The Esalen Indians, and other tribes of native Americans, were quickly converted to Christianity and lost their culture.  Until about seventy years ago this part of California didn’t even have a road going to it.  In 1938 Highway 1 opened it up to tourists, of which there were to be many.  Some of the interested travelers to have visited have included Ansel Adams, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Jack Kerouac.  Short history lesson I know, but my sources here are sparse.

It is still winter as I sit here in Big Sur, with the Santa Lucia mountains to my back, but we have had a series of sunny days in the mid twenties so it doesn’t feel like it.   The other evening I was walking back up the hill from the hot tubs listening to the Californian reggae group Groundation on my headphones.  A couple of people walked down the path past me, carrying the smiles of those who have just come off the dance floor, as they had.  I looked out at the dark sky and the moon and thought I am glad to be here…


Greeting the sun in a rare moment of solitude.


The pulse is strong.


The water is green and cold.


Sprawling coast live oak draped with lace-like lichen creates a dark, convoluted space.  The hills of Big Sur are a mosaic of grassland, oak woodland, redwood forest, and coastal shrub.