Gaviota Dawn

Gaviota Beach and trestle bridge.


An early fall morning, just before dawn, and Gaviota Canyon is doing yeoman service as a wind tunnel. The Sundowner winds peculiar to this area are magnified by the narrow pass behind me and they’ve been rocking cars, pulling tent pegs, and making campfires impossible for the past 12 hours.

A fine grit pervades everything, and I wonder how long it will take me to clean up.

But two months (or more, I’ve lost track) of nonstop work, travel, and “drama, not otherwise specified” have made medicine of a couple of days plotzed in a campsite. The waves crash, the squirrels, ospreys, and Monarch butterflies go about their business, and they catch me up in their rhythm, allowing me to reset my tempo and reflect in a way I could not last weekend in a Chicago hotel room.

So I will take the grit. And as the sun rises, I start to see the path forward with unaccustomed clarity.

I reach for my boots. It is time to begin.

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The Fall Cometh

Reading on my balcony in Deerfield, every few minutes my eyes are drawn skyward to the sound of a jet, or of a southbound flock of Canadian Geese.

Autumn has sneaked into the Midwest. Hopefully it will grace my home shores of the Strawberry Coast soonish.

I don’t find many here in Illinois who share the sentiment, and I acknowledge that my joy at the coming of Fall is colored by the mild and pleasant winters of the California Coast rather than the lake effect blizzards that punctuate the season hereabouts. 

For me, the sharpening chill of October evenings makes me think of sweaters, thick socks, and a good book with a cup of something hot. It means fast boat rides on windy chop, migrating whales, and the constant tang of the Pacific in the air. It means comfortable camping in tent and RV, a banket across my legs before the campfire is kindled.

It is meals in a Sukkah, a giddy dance with the Torah, the ranks of children knocking on our door on Halloween, Thanksgiving dinner, Chanukah lights, carols, movies, and school breaks with my son. It is the World Series, my son’s basketball schedule, and bowl games. 

Fall is first and foremost an affirmation of life in the maw of the oncoming chill. And for that it will ever be my favorite season.

Fly on, old friends, I think as another flock honks southward. May you find peaceful flyaways far from the engines of airplanes.

Home, home on the (shooting) range


A good day is any day when you and your son can go to the shooting range with a good friend, and you’re all breaking in new weapons.

Aaron zeroes his Ruger 10/22 while Dan hones his skill with his Sig P226. Not shown: me taking my first shots with my Sig P229. 

They both did better than I did, but by the end of the hour my groups were getting tighter and we’re inching closer to the 10 ring.

Patch of the Month: Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol

My Life Scout son Aaron was elected as leader of his patrol in the troop our Council is assembling to represent Ventura County at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree.

Soon after, the patrol named themselves “the Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol.”

Against all odds, I managed to find them appropriate BSA-regulation patrol patches. As you can see, the patch above shows a goldfish clearly in the act of procrastinating. The patrol will wear this with pride, along with all of their other insignia and regalia, as they journey to the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve this month.

I can think of no more appropriate insignia with which to launch this new feature. Each month I will highlight a patch that is of personal interest and significance.