Through the kind indulgence of the residents and the largesse of friends and loved ones, I have on occasion been allowed to visit St. Malo, a private community of beachside homes situated at the southern edge of Oceanside and modeled after the cottages of their Normandy namesake. I am taken with the “ineffable charm” that the local daily accords it, and content to honor its general policy of privacy. But.
I have long held that happy people don’t make art. Merry, mischief, love — they’ll make those; but not art. It’s too much trouble. Happy people spend their time being happy. That was certainly the case with my last two visits to St. Malo. But this year — well, how does the old hymn go? “Change and decay in all around I see…” This year, those old winds of change are roughing up the freshwater looking-glass tranquility of the Buena Vista Lagoon, as SANDAG considers a plan to convert it to saltwater. Among other things, such a plan would make the lagoon subject to the rise and fall of the tides, such that the backyard vista for a sizable number of St. Malo denizens would regularly shift from aquatic idyll to marshy mud flat.
Suddenly, all those private people are seeing their names printed in a public forum, as their impassioned pleas and arguments against such a fate get posted at sandag.org and keepsandiegomoving.com. Nothing gold can stay, but they’re hoping that doesn’t mean the forced ascendance of brack-brown muck.
The controversy lent a melancholy air to my most recent visit, and the heartbreak of those homeowners started me tinkering with a song — a standard, the sort folks might have listened to nearly a century ago, when St. Malo was new and the future seemed full of freshness.
- Oh, it’s August in St. Malo
- But it’s November in my heart
- And the cocktails never wait for cocktail hour
- And the morning found me hollow
- So I got an early start
- But it ain’t lemon juice that makes this whiskey sour
- Well a boy from fifty-seven
- Loved a girl from forty-nine
- And I thought I had the season on my side
- But the moon looked down from heaven
- Gave a tug upon the line
- And her heart changed with the changing of the tide
- Now I said I wouldn’t mourn ya
- Summer ends, so does romance
- Still I’d like to take my case up with the moon
- But I’m stuck in California
- Though it looks a lot like France
- So my tears will put some salt in this lagoon
It needs a bridge, and maybe one more verse. I’m hoping to have it finished by the time SANDAG votes on the matter, late this year.