A Gathering Place
November 13, 2019
I was born and raised in this town. But it has taken me 40 years to fully appreciate how lucky I am. When I applied to pediatric residency, I wrote my personal statement about “Gathering Places. ” I vaguely remember drawing parallels with a well that was in the center of my family’s ancestral village in Southeast Asia and a pediatrician’s office. I wrote of my desire of becoming a pediatrician in the community that I would live. I called both the village well and the medical office – “Gathering Places.” Now I chuckle, because even then I was drawing random connections between disparate places and experiences.
Indeed, I did become a general pediatrician and my office is a “Gathering Place” for the families I serve. And I have realized that the Pacific Coast and this stretch of beach I transverse so frequently is a “Gathering Place” for many people.
I spotted this group of boisterous high schoolers one Autumn Saturday morning. They chatted and intermittently broke into song. The running and voices were young and strong. There is something invigorating about these striding youths, running for the purpose of running faster without a destination. It was fun to see them happy in their own company.
I have seen many weddings on the beach at sunset. I often stand with other spectators, and watch couples make eternal vows. Marriage should be celebrated and as I stand there in my drplasticpicker hodge podge outfit, I too celebrate them. I often find flowers strewn along the beach. And after those weddings, I return the next morning and will pick up the remnants of their celebrations. I do so gladly and with an open heart, as the true flower petals are often soft and beauttful. Although once in a while I am surprised that someone will bring plastic flowers. I pick up those too. No one needs plastic flowers, especially not the vulnerable coastal birds (Egrets, Whimbrels, Snowy Egrets and Marbled Godwits) https://drplasticpicker.com/snowy-plovers-whimbrels-marbled-godwits-and-a-regal-snowy-egret/.
Below was the most memorable gathering I saw. I was exiting the beach after a long plastic picking session. I had been concentrating on the little pieces of plastic so much that I had not noticed this large gathering that had amassed. They walked in step, single file around the orange laterns. Were they witches? Were they having a celebration of life for a dear friend? I was curious as I stood on the cliffs looking at them. When I turned to go home, my last thought was – I hope they pick up all their trash. Indeed, the next morning – I did not find a trace.