Thursday, March 14, 2013


There is a nest of Monterey cypress overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The water is less than a mile away, buffered from the cypress patch by a series of low hills and sand dunes which are covered in succulents and low-growing shrubs. 
The ocean is dotted with white caps and shrouded by mist. From the cliff side it appears pale blue and ephemeral. On the dunes, wisps of sand are lifted by the constant ocean wind and sweep over the rich array of yellow, pale red, pink and green hues of the succulents and thin desert grasses.  The plants bend in the wind and seem malleable by nature and design, built to tilt, but they stay firmly rooted. 
The nest of trees grows on the edge of the cliff, the massive cluster of roots holds the sandy soil together with their weave of hardened lumber. The collection of cypress have grown over the years into a dome shape, creating a rounded shelter protecting the center from the ever present ocean breeze full of seaweed scent and salt.  The majority of the rough trunks are stooped from years of strong winds, some of them grow thick, yet almost parallel to the ground.
Within the dome, which is open and free of vegetation but for the blanket of brown, fallen cypress needles, the air is slightly warmer and nearly without breeze.  It smells deeply of earth and soil and just a hint of stagnant soil.
There is a small pile of wood on the ground just a few feet from center. It has been reduced almost to charcoal and only a few blackened logs remain. An empty 40oz bottle of the cheapest variety is lodged between a thicket of trucks along the edge of the living wall; the trees are cluttered around the periphery. Dozens of trunks grow almost on top of each other, emerging from nearly the same space in the earth, their branches compete for sunlight, struggling upward despite the force of wind.
A topless girl is dancing, protected by the wall of trees in all directions. She has on tight jeans so faded now that the fabric appears gray. Though her pale skin is protected from the ocean air by the shelter of green, her nipples are pointed, still reacting to the sunless sky. 
She runs back and forth from her camera to a wide space in the center of the dome, twirling her body as the green light on the camera blinks in perfect rhythm until it doubles in speed and then beeps and the flash ignites, lighting her pale skin for a moment of further brilliance.
She runs to check the camera, sets it again against a small fallen branch on the ground, then sets the timer once again as she runs to the center of the needled floor, waving her arms around her in a motion of ecstatic abandon. 
A seagull caws somewhere close by, its sound carried like the salt and seaweed scent. The girl swings her arms, juts out her hips, and looks once more at the camera.