Susan Luzzaro 4:30 p.m., Dec. 11
A Romantic Ocean Beach Anniversary; Grunion Style
It was midnight; we were driving from the Temecula area, on our way home to Ocean Beach, from visiting family. I was half asleep with lazy eyes, barley open. I was a little confused, waking up from a nap. I looked over to the driver side; there he was with baby blue eyes, dirty blonde hair and surfer body build, smiling kindly towards me. He said with excitement, "I have a surprise for you sleepy head!" My heart started to race with anticipation. "It is going to change your world," he continued. Just like that I was fully awake and curious of what the surprise might be!
It was 1:00am on a Sunday morning. This particular Sunday is not like any other Sunday; this day marked our one-year anniversary being married. Those baby blue eyes I woke up to are my husbands. We met in Costa Rica six years ago as Peace Corps Volunteers. On this special Sunday, he wanted to surprise me as a way to start out our second year of marriage together. I was excited and determined to find out the surprise, I do not want to miss anything that he had planned.
As our drive ended onto Sunset Cliff Blvd from the 8 west freeway, I thought we were going to head straight to our cottage studio; instead he took a detour towards Dog Beach. I continued to be curious and wonder what could this surprise be since it was passed midnight on a Sunday morning! He pulled up the car and parked. He smiled and repeated, "This is going to change your world." I began to ponder, "How is dog beach going to change my world? What a strange way to start my one-year anniversary celebration!" We got out of the car. I checked out the surroundings. It was full moon with a little light shining on us through the overcase sky. The sound of the waves crushing to the sand was calm, yet powerful, and overshadowed all of the other sounds that were trying to compete against it. I looked around, listened to the nature communicating and thought to myself, "I think I am falling in love with this romantic setting." A moment later, of course, as we were walking towards dog beach, I was a little skeptical. How romantic is dog beach? I continued to wonder, "What is it that my handsome husband has in mind for our one year-anniversary celebration at dog beach?"
As we were walking across the dry sand to the ocean, I noticed people with their flashlights and buckets, screaming and laughing their hearts out. There were between 5 to 10 people that we encountered. My husband stopped and turned over to me and asked with excitement, "Love, do you remember when I told you that there are fishes, the Grunion, that only appear on the beach between March and August during a full moon or a new moon? Well tonight it is your chance to witness the Grunion for the very first time!" I became sad, "Ok, my skeptical side was right! What is it about these fish that makes my husband so happy and excited that he wanted to mark the beginning of our second year of marriage with them?" Since we were already walking to the shore, I'll try to make the best out of the surprise.
We took out our cell phones since we didn't have a flashlight with us. As we approached the water, I noticed little silver fishes flopping their bodies around. It was like they were dancing the fish dance. I walked even closer to the wet sand. The wave crushed into the sand and when it pulled away from the sand, it left thousands of Grunions jumping and flopping around, on and in the sand! My heart beat fast with excitement and my mouth filled with smiles and then I began to laugh with joy. As I turned to my husband, he said, "See, I knew you would like this celebration. This is the beginning of our new year together. Happy anniversary love."
As we ran across the beach to the river mouth of the dog beach, I witnessed thousands of female Grunions digging by flopping their body through the sand making little holes. I asked my husband, "What are they doing?" He smiled and said, "They are mating! The female Grunion buries eggs under the sand more than 3 inches or so while many male Grunion flopped around touching her body of the female Grunion! This is how they make baby Grunion!" I was amazed how these interesting fish mate! There were more than four males Grunion to each female, now that is different!
That night, my husband was right, witnessing Grunion truly changed my world. This was the best one-year anniversary celebration ever! I was fortunate and glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of the development of Grunion along the Ocean Beach river mouth, on a calm summer morning, with my handsome husband, celebrating our one-year anniversary. We were a part of a history; we witnessed a new beginning as thousands of baby Grunions will be coming into this world. It doesn't take much to please me, especially if it is free and it is in our neighborhood.
Watching grunions lay their eggs in the sand is priceless.
Celebrating my one-year anniversary with my beloved, handsome, romantic husband and the grunion is priceless.
Walking on the beach under the moonlight is priceless.
Watching the Grunion was a symbol of the beginning of our second year of marriage as thousands of grunion buried their eggs under the sand so there could be future grunion. Hopefully our second year of married life will be filled with excitement, discovery, hope, surprises and many more experiences and memories to cherish together!
For our one-year get away, we did not need to go far. It was right under our nose the entire time here in our Ocean Beach neighborhood!