It was a cloudy Saturday morning, with the overcast skies threatening to rain any moment. Rain and cold is not a very reassuring combination, hence we decided that a drive through the California waterfront in the protected confines of our car would be a good way to spend the 2nd day on our trip to Monterey.
So after a hearty breakfast , we packed into our six seater and started on the 17 mile drive from Carmel-at-Sea. The 17 mile drive snakes through a picture postcard vignette of the West Coast. You can drive through the Del Monte forest, glassy green golf courses, and breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean kissing precariously perched rocks on the coastline.
Along the drive we stopped to observe landmarks of tourist interest. Bird rock was a boulder with a mysterious attraction to birds – you could see a swathe of them swooning in and enveloping it on the foaming ocean. Ghost trees were a collection of dried out trees which have been smitten by some kind of affliction and stand out as stark reminders of their glorious past.
And among all these sights we came across this legendary landmark on Pebble Beach, the Lone Cypress tree.
So when you get down and stand at the farthest corner of land, you see this single Cypress tree standing out on a shelf separated from the mainland. Strong gusts of wind brush your face, reminding you of the harsh conditions here. A tour guide standing next to us in the crowd observes that this tree is more than 250 years old.
We are transfixed in this powerful moment, and the symbolism of what we see.
You can see the silhouette of the Cypress leaves across the endless backdrop of brilliant blue beyond. If you peer closer, you would be able to see a faint curvature of the earth as the ocean engulfs you on all three sides. It feels like you’ve reached a cliff – go beyond into the ocean and you’d fall off the edge of the earth.
And amongst all this is the Lone Cypress that stands out starkly, almost with an invitation which says – “Look at me, I am still here!” . Like a Howard Roark laughing at the edge of a cliff.
What you do not see is that a few hundred years ago – a bird that plucked the cypress seed and innocently dropped it out on the rock. You do not see a tiny seedling emerging out, unaware of the glory it would be destined to – just by refusing to give up.
What you do not observe is the furious storm that almost ripped this cypress tree away from its roots. Lashed by a hurricane and stricken by lightning flashes, the tree has been downed once but was never out.
You also cannot see the thin transparent wires that hold it upright now.
In one picture you observe individualism. heroism and empathy entwined together.
This is indeed a powerful moment for us!