The coast has its characters.
There’s the group that meets most every clear morning just before sunrise, parking their cars at the entrance to Clover Point, climbing out with go mugs in hand to congregate and converse, facing east, waiting for the day to rise. Who are they? What brought them together? What do they do for the rest of the day?
There’s the guy - he’s in his 50s if he’s a day - who turns hot laps of the downhill into the park on his longboard, leaning into the hard turn to the left before decelerating past the sewage treatment centre, rolling to a stop, getting off, and walking back up the grass to his starting point. Repeats. Over. And over. Again. Is this meditation?
The guy (where are the female characters?) on the roller skates, doing his best asphalt Brian Boitano at the point in the road where the loop closes, his Olympic ice surface, until interrupted by a passing car. Did he ever skate on real ice? Was he the older teenager at the roller skating rink that we younger boys all wanted to be, gliding effortless loops around the girls while they smiled shyly in appreciation? Was he at his acme in those younger days atop his skates, climbs back to the coast now to relive that glory through his turns?
I’ve seen them all through my windows and asked these questions of them, to myself, silently. I’m doing this project, in no small part, to step through those window, to find my voice, to ask those questions out loud, to satisfy my curiosity, meet my neighbours and see the coast through their eyes.
Meet Simon, who, when the wind is up, can be found on the grassy knoll on the east side of the top of the hill at the entrance to the Point (just next to, by the by, the parking area of The Sunrise Set). I asked Simon about his relationship with the coast and he answered instead that I wouldn’t get those answers from most of the people walking around the Point. They weren’t paying sufficient attention. Simon pays attention. In the 45’ we spoke I learned more about avionics than I’d heard in the 40 years preceding. Or, at least, I learned Simon’s interpretation of avionics. I learned that the contraption he sets up under a tripod of aerospace grade aluminum is a lifetime project, a passion. And one that he wishes to share. It has myriad applications, from yachters, to hikers to hanging one off a crane into the Grand Canyon.
“I’m not design-greedy, but I am scenery-greedy. Gondoliers will ride a balloon the length of the Canyon at one elevation, get out at the end, cheer at their accomplishment, say that they’ve seen it all, and move on to the next thing. But in this, hung from a height [by a similar ballon, for example], the scenery comes to you, in three dimensions. You’re never finished, you simply change your height, spin, and new layers of scenery are revealed. It’s all new again.”
I don’t know whether Simon’s design could actually make this possible, whether the physics he described to me with seeming acuity is in fact feasible. But I know that he will return, to the same spot, on every day with a breeze, and believe in what the wind will give him. Scenery-greedy by his own definition, perhaps, and yet needing nothing more than that frugal breeze, a seat within the fruits of his lifetime of knowledge and invention, and a set of eyes willing to keep witnessing novelty in the same scene he’s seen every time that he’s here. Always spinning. Always changing. Always new. Again.