February on the Central Coast

A friend from Germany just wrote a letter updating me about events with my soccer groups and local and national politics. His letter encouraged me to write an update on my life on the Central Coast of California. Our time here is more than half over, which makes me a bit wary but also happy to think of returning to good ole Germany.

The past days and weeks have been very eventful here. We have had great times with all our young visitors but we have also suffered a great tragedy. My brother-in-law, Andrew Ebright, passed away at a much too young age. It is a great loss for me, for my family, for my sister and her family, for all his friends. Andy was a wonderful man and a great friend. He had a talent for making any encounter fun and exciting. He always had a good joke up his sleeve, loved games and was the most hospitable person I know. Andy was also a terribly intelligent and thoughtful person. It was just a few years ago when I was here in California and was sitting in the yard with Andrew discussing racism. He eloquently argued that the concept of race is in itself flawed and wrong. How can you divide people up into a handful of races? It’s arbitrary and constructed. What race would a child have whose mother is from China and father from Africa? His thoughts helped me understand this issue much better. It’s hard to imagine he’s gone and the grief runs deep. This loss has again brought my family together with brothers and sisters converging in Morro Bay and warming calls and letters from family overseas.

It’s mid-February and we are having a cold spell. Cold for Central California, that is. We had a bit of frost this morning and a chilly breeze is blowing along the nearby hills and valleys. The cold and wind have brought clear air and amazing views. Susa and I took a walk yesterday along one of our favorite spots in Los Osos. It is the so-called Back Bay, a quiet oasis beyond the rough, windy power of the Pacific and protected by the “Sand Spit”, a long finger of land and a breakwater. We meandered along the sandy beach that stretches along a small peninsula. Turning the bend, the massive Morro Rock appeared in the distance, perhaps 4 km away. The ragged rocks and jagged outcroppings were crystal clear, it seemed I could almost reach out and touch them.

This afternoon I am sitting outside with my sun cap and light jacket and warming myself in the sun. My neighbor is repairing a table outside in front of his garage. He has shorts and a t-shirt on. I will miss being able to sit outside in the warm sun in February.

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Pismo Beach Pier, a one-hour bike ride from my house

In the last couple of months, I have gotten heavily involved in a ballot initiative designed to ban fracking and new oil wells in the county. Whithin two months we have to gather 10,000 signatures in order to qualify the initiative for the November election. Then the voters of the county can decide themselves if they want to amend county laws to reduce our reliance on oil and to protect local water. It’s funny, but being here I have gotten much more interested in local politics than I ever was in Germany.

I feel so lucky to be here and to have the privilege of working so little (2 days a week). On my frequent walks and hikes, I am constantly reminded of the beauty here. The hills are still mostly brown, but the deep blues of the ocean and the sky make up for that.

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