The adventure began when my sister Stacy called to ask about the beached whale in Isla Vista. It jarred my memory of a radio blurb that morning that I had heard but filed away somewhere in the back of my head for safe keeping. Upon jarring the idea loose, I was determined to commune with this amazing creature of the deep, and called my friend Jill. "Hey, you wanna go on an adventure?" I asked. "Absolutely!" She replied. We didn't know exactly where we were going, for the whereabouts of the whale had not yet shown up in the news. I told her I'd heard it was on Isla Vista beach. She drove. I trust Jill's connection to nature. She connects with animals (or they connect with her), even though she denies this vehemently. It may be purely coincidental, but Jill drove us to I.V. , found us a parking place. We descended the nearest set of stairs to the beach and found that we were within visual range of a beached sperm whale.
There was a small crowd marveling at the amazing creature. Kieran, my daughter, said it looked like a big plucked chicken. It was an accurate description. The whale was wrinkled and pink. "Possibly from a sunburn?", I speculated. The kids were fascinated and tried to get close but the whale was caught in the slowly rising tide and moved in and out, as if still alive, raising its caudal fin occasionally with the bigger waves. The kids were playing chicken with the carcass of the great sperm whale, chasing after it as the waves receded and running screaming back as the whale surged closer with the swell. It was wild and windy and I feared someone from our car was going to have a close encounter with decomposing whale tissue. I figured all was well though. This was in fact an experience of communing with nature, wasn't it? When else could my kids get close enough to actually kiss a sperm whale if they so chose? It was a great moment. A great present of the present where we acted in the spirit of adventure for a moment of discovery.