Friday, June 30, 2017

Gravity Works: Big Sur Goes Wild

Mud Creek Slide, Big Sur

The Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur rise quickly from the ocean. In geologic time they are rising fast. This means they will constantly be giving way to gravity. When these steep mountain sides are weighted with water, and underground waterways are running through rock and soil faults in a heavy rainy season, we can assume there will be slides. In human time, this means that: we have seen, are now seeing, and will see slides that close access to these mountains by cars. As beautiful as it is to drive and as much as I need it for getting supplies and groceries, Highway 1 was really quite a human-made assault to these mountains. Don't get me wrong, these mountains would be sliding regardless, and the construction of Highway 1 quickens the pace in many places.

Businesses and most of the people that live in Big Sur have been hit hard by the effects of the slide. On the other hand, the wilds of Big Sur are recovering and getting a much needed rest in many places where human impact has done its damage. A palpable calm has returned to many places.

For half a year we have been living in a mixed blessing. Many friends have lost their jobs, neighbors that weren't really prepared for Big Sur living have moved away or temporarily left, many business are struggling to survive. The Soberanes Fire of last summer (the most expensive fire in U.S. history) along with the heavy, and much needed, rains that closed the road has filtered who really wants to live here and/or can seem to find a way to live here. At the same time it feel like a blessing to the larger-than-human community as well as the human community itself. Friendships have grown deeper, generosity has shown it welcome face in unexpected places, and time to reassess what is really important have led to a quality of richness that can't be bought.

These awe-inspiring mountains meeting the sea keep reminding us of our place in the bigger nature of things. Lessons of, who-is-really-in-control, humility, and resilience seem to be the norm. Still, I continue to fall in love with this wild and rugged coast.



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