Last August I stood on a ridgeline at Figueroa Mountain, which overlooks the Santa Ynez Valley, with Blue Wolf and Tatacho. The sun was beginning to drop into the West.
We had been looking at the drought-ravaged trees in the area, which is home to the remarkable place Tatacho has built on the mountain, where people come to learn about adobe mud-building construction from a man who has mastered the craft.
A light westerly breeze blew the scent of the baking valley, up to us on the mountain. I was there to shoot some of the goings on at Tatacho’s place, but I also had a question to ask my friends, both of whom I consider to be men who are literally a part of the natural order of things, right where we were standing.
“Hey you guys, I have been studying ocean temperatures and wind patterns in the Central Pacific and Equator. A lot of meteorologists seem to be passing around the story that this winter season we are going to experience a La Nina weather event in the Pacific and the drought is going to continue. I am just not seeing that. I suspect it is going to be just the opposite. It is like these people are all playing a game of telephone and no one is really looking at what is right in front of us all in the data resources. I think we are going to experience a water re-set in California. What do you think?”
And this is what they both said.
“Oh yea, flood year. You can see it coming. This has happened before”
As winter passed, what we had talked about on the mountain came to pass. Once more up at Tatacho’s land to do some night sky time-lapse work, we drank in the heady mix of scents and pulse of the place. It occurred to me that within surf culture, where we live according to the rhythm of weather and water so we can be where surf happens, that maybe the most intelligent voice in the room with regard to our planet, is our own.
The image this month was shot during a three week spell of perfect light and weather for my wave work. I knew it would not last long, so I hit it hard and built over 500 A-list images.
It pays to stay connected to the ocean.
In contemporary surf culture, our world gets leaned into quite frequently with well-meaning yet ill-informed voices, directing us as surfers and a water tribe as to what is good and accurate care for our beaches and waters.
Unfortunately, these voices are quite frequently under-informed when compared to some of even the youngest members of our community.
The reason for this is a lack of understanding of both the definition of the term “baseline” and inaccurate application of information gleaned from baseline study with regard to our ocean home. This can create a wide variety of problems for municipalities and the state.
Loosely defined, baseline refers to the historic condition of a particular asset. It would be the starting point from which to draw conclusions. For us, one of the oldest historic baseline barometers on the coast is the point break.
The reason for this is that many of these points are ancient and have a water outfall (stream or river) as part of their morphological structure.
So if you really want to learn about the effects of various aspects of nature, and man-made impacts on the ocean, study the pointbreaks. Hidden in plain sight will be a complete living record of all land based changes, traceable back hundreds and in some cases, as in Pitas Point pictured here, thousands of years. It really is enlightening to do so, and helps us better understand what matters and what does not, in being good stewards of our resources.