Towards Oyster Country

golden hills

I drive Lucas Valley Road and its winding subsidiaries from just north of San Rafael towards Point Reyes Station. Weekday traffic is irregular. The golden summer hills are about to segue to a verdant tarragon green with the coming winter rains. Flush banks of fog loll on the higher hills as if deciding to either cascade or evaporate altogether. Hawks and turkey vultures alternately appear and disappear into the gray mass patiently awaiting sight of their next meal.

Around serpentine curves, the road flattens temporarily into pasture land. Lethargic cows sit on their haunches, too content to move elsewhere, and why should they? Burnt orange California poppies will soon be prolific up the sides of hills. Purple lupines will intersperse with Tiburon paintbrush. Queen Anne’s lace, blue-eyed grass and mustard will blanket both roadside and hillside. But for now, the golden knolls prevail.

There is a strand of redwoods just before Lucas Valley Road merges into Nicasio Valley Road. The majestic trees have no height limit and likely tickle low slung clouds as they pass overhead. The canopy repels all sunlight. Even on the clearest of days, ground level is dense and dark and dotted with ferns and sorrel. Where shafts of sunlight do break through, wood roses are abloom. No flowerbeds here, just a few cabins with wispy smoke drifting from chimneys and the maverick roses.

A rafter of turkeys peck in the dust just north of the Nicasio’s one room school house. They ignore the sound of traffic and overhead predators. A tom keeps watchful eye though as the hens fatten up on seeds and insects. A doe and her fawn stand at the edge of a thicket just beyond the Platform Bridge Road turnoff. They too, are occupied with foraging and pay little heed.

North of Point Reyes Station, the topography changes. The hills are flatter and more cultivated on the right hand side. To the left is the shoreline of Tomales Bay, reedy, swampy, muddy, a tidal plain that supports shore birds as well as gulls and occasional pelicans. Cranes, herons, and stilts stand motionless for long periods as if meditating, but they are watching and listening for organic morsels.

Low tide

Low tide this morning exposes the skeletal underpinnings of waterfront shacks. Old scows rest atop mudflats just south of Marshall. The wood derelict boats suggest something from a Hemingway novel. I would not be surprised to see Bogart and Bacall hitchhiking near Tony’s Seafood restaurant. Beyond, Tomales Bay appears serene but severe. Breakwater isn’t quite visible from my vantage point. Tomales Bay stretches about two more miles before it meets the Pacific. Despite the still early hour, I think it’s time to locate some fresh oysters.

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