Thursday, February 7, 2013

Surfin' USA

      You’ve got to love a town where National Public Radio news includes the morning surf report.  Start your San Diego day with the weather (usually gorgeous) then get tips on the waves and where to catch them.
      When I listened to the Beach Boys in the 1960s, rockin’ out to “Good Vibrations,” I had no idea that some day I’d experience southern California culture as a resident.  Land-locked in the northern Rockies, I didn’t imagine that I’d be taking deep daily gulps of sea air, doing tai chi on the beach, watching the sun set in a new cove each evening, enjoying rich night life and a bonanza of terrific restaurants. Generally reveling in the privileges of residency with time to appreciate this unique town.  
      Although I’d visited a half-dozen times, these jam-packed vacations didn’t provide the leisure to get really acquainted with San Diego.
Bruce Keller training for his diving
instructor license, earned in 1976.
      My partner is a native San Diegan – born at Mercy Hospital 20 years before my first visit to his town. He grew up with pomegranate juice on his chin and sand in his toes – a true beach boy.  While I was practicing my piano in Montana, humming “Surfer Girl”  (do you love me, do you, surfer girl?), he was paddling out into the Pacific.  He was (and is!) the real deal – sailor, surfer, deep sea diver.  Our garage boasts three surf boards.  This guy knows his fish, shells, coral, eels, barnacles, reefs, kelp beds and whales. 
San Diegans take time to smell the roses.
 Here Cookie, Nick and Nora enjoy.
      It took me a few twists and turns to settle down in this civilized, user-friendly town.  Among the draws for me and a million others:  the year-round 60-to-70 degree climate and flowers, including fabulous roses, blooming year-round.  People smile here -- does the salt air make them nicer? They even say hello to a stranger. 
      Take a break from the computer and twitter.  Open the front door and you’ll hear birds tweeting in the palm trees.   Even the parking lots are landscaped.  Hummers (the winged kind) flit about in the mall shrubbery. 
    San Diego has fabulous food of every ethnic variety.  What’s your preference?  Greek, Thai, Italian?  Maybe sushi or barbecue.  Theater of every kind. Cutting edge contemporary drama, classical, musicals.  San Diego has it all.  You can see “Pygmalion” one day and an August Wilson work the next.  San Diego Musical Theatre is bringing two favorites back -- “Sound of Music” and “Chicago, and San Diego has sent more new plays and musicals to Broadway than any other U.S. town.  Vocal repertoire?  We’re hearing Bach Collegium’s Valentine program in Balboa Park tomorrow.  Nordic Voices from Scandinavia plays Feb. 10, making its Southern California debut here in San Diego.  San Diego Symphony produces a vibrant, varied season and San Diego Opera just finished a rousing run of Donizetti’s “Daughter of the Regiment.” 
      Live music offers a range of blues, jazz and rock and roll.  Our friend Jesus Soriano, a native of Madrid, plays gorgeous classical guitar a couple nights a week at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach, with the tastiest, most authentic tapas in town, served by European born waiters and reasonably priced.  
Cookie and Keller at Costa Brava,
enjoying tasty tapas and classical guitar 

played  by Spaniard Jesus Soriano.
     Garrison Keillor is spending Valentine’s Day here. The host of NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion” will do a one-man show at Point Loma Nazarene University.   The list of famous folks who were born or lived in San Diego includes Robert Duvall, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Raquel Welch and Theodor Geisel of “Dr. Seuss” fame.  Quite a range of tastes and talent.
     So here’s my Valentine to you, San Diego!  As my grandfather said, “I am as happy as if I were in my right  mind.” For me, that glorious state is induced by spending time here.  Nothing beats a Montana spring, but San Diego has spring year round. 
     Bring on those negative ions – they help my brain, calm me down.  In San Diego, I’m as relaxed as a Type-A Leo can be! I may not literally catch a wave, but I’m a contented armchair beach bum. Only wish I still had my T-bird! Fun. Fun. Fun.  

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