Chapter 19

 
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19     PELICANS AND WHALES

 

Lightning struck twice. And a third time. They were starting to feel like Roy Sullivan. So they quickly hopped in their Delorean to play Cypress a second and third time, and to stay in the clubhouse both times. Seven more rounds of golf over four days, with two nights stay. As they knew it would, their flux capacitor did finally burn out:  the member they knew changed jobs, and a new club president cut back on guest playing privileges, and eliminated unaccompanied guests staying in the clubhouse. They did not expect to ever go back, but were hopefully fed well enough to survive the coming long, cold hibernation. Eight rounds at Cypress in thirteen months is the Farrell’s Zoo of golf, so they had a chance. And they definitely needed time to digest it all.

Like the outside of the clubhouse, the interior and bedrooms were comfortable and simple, and would have been more at home in the ‘30s than today. This was a New England bed and breakfast, not a Bellagio or a Venetian, with radiators, crown molding, framed pages from long extinct magazines, and wallpaper with golfing scenes. There was a larger, second floor balcony in front, and a narrow one off the bedrooms in back. A couple dining areas and a couple sitting areas downstairs with a small porch, and that was it. The main dining room was the most updated, and had the best ocean view through large, plate glass windows. It felt like mom was in the kitchen, which served dishes like grilled cheese and a turkey sandwich on white bread. And they had more siblings than there were diners.

They were the only guests both nights they stayed. With all the staff leaving for the night, they expected to be asked to turn out all the lights and water the plants. Cypress at night turns into a summer rental. With no homes nearby, the nights were wonderfully dark and star-filled, and the world’s best sound machine lulled them to sleep through open windows. Screens and air conditioning were not needed there.

All-day guest playing privileges somehow exceeded expectations. They could tee off in the morning after rush hour ended at 8:30 a.m., have a leisurely lunch, and tee off again whenever they wanted in the afternoon. The pro shop’s schedule book only had morning pages. Playing the course at these times made earlier feel like Shinjuku Station, especially the afternoon rounds. The local animals must know this as they were everywhere after midday, and were quite put out any time they had to move for golfers. Who left the gate open and let these people in?

Besides the daily stampede, the other wonderful discovery is experiencing Cypress in a kaleidoscope of weather and light, with panoramic views instead of periscope ones like their first visit. Studio 54 would be proud of how fast fog could come and go. Sometimes there was morning fog, like the first time they played, that uniformly burned off. Other times, there was afternoon fog that rolled in, covering parts or all of the course. One time, the fog just enveloped the ocean holes, so they reviewed what they had done to upset Mother Nature. Maybe they still had Hail Mary deficits from when they took home the gift and left the box at a birthday party, or shot a BB gun into the neighbor’s bedroom, or convinced their sister to do a flip off the high dive by lying they had already done one. Not seeing those ocean holes in their full glory felt like when they left a game or turned it off before the greatest comeback in history. But who wants to listen to Bill Gates complain about the challenge of giving away his money or Brad Pitt and his marital problems?

The two peak times of day for light are morning and evening. The sun seems to wash out colors during the rest of the day, but its lower intensity and sharper angle near sunrise and sunset enhances them. Nature’s other daily Tide. The course set-up maximized the available light during the day. If this was also a part of his course design, Alister should be synonymous with Albert for the first names of otherworldly intellects. For the opening holes, most of them in the woods, overhead light created fascinating shadow patterns, and allowed enough sun to hit the fairway to be most playable. The later and finishing holes, with few trees, would be most dramatic in the setting sun. The routing ensured all the holes would be played most often in their best lighting. Thomas Alister Edison. The only caveat is fifteen and sixteen could be tough very late in the day under clear skies with a blinding setting sun. However, the Pacific rarely has such days there, and instead usually has cloud cover on the horizon.

Playing several more times also let them see a couple hidden items their caddies told them about during their first round. Walking over to the fifteenth green, they saw sea lions when their caddies pointed them out, and told them what they were. Their caddies also said there were pelicans in Boney’s Pulpit, and whales along the seventeenth fairway, which they did not see. When watching the sunrise over Boney’s Pulpit from the clubhouse balcony, they saw the sun first light up the large rock behind the sixteenth green, and they found the pelicans. Dozens of them; maybe hundreds. It was the Monte Carlo of pelicans. Also, during one of their last rounds, in the late afternoon in overcast and windy weather, they finally saw a whale. This was harder to believe than the pelicans since it seemed too close to shore for whales.

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See the sea lions. Find the pelicans. Wait for the whales. Requiring little effort, look around in life to see the sea lions – those who have helped and cared and given. None should be guilty of missing their sea lions, and not thanking them. It takes more effort to search out the pelicans. Usually, like standing on the balcony at the Cypress Point clubhouse, higher elevation is needed to see them. But deeper gratitude follows when finding them, and more tears come when shared. At times, it is necessary to wait quite a while for the whales to appear in our lives. Persevering through months or years of affliction brings heartfelt thanksgiving when help arrives. And sometimes when it does not, since in either case, priceless wisdom and unique perspective always do come.

It can hard to believe whales will come the first time. Or that they will come again. That is why messengers will come, from the here and now or the unseen world, to help those struggling to believe. Charging forth from their own Boney’s Pulpit, these are witnesses that become catalysts, passing forward what others had first done for them.