Western Biological

OK! I’m way overdue in replenishing this site with fresh content. I can’t decide if it’s time for a rosy gaze, a bitchfest, or a middle ground. I’ve been rereading Cannery Row which is beguiling and wonderful — sort of a Western version of Damon Runyon’s denizens of the old Times Square. That area near Carmel and Monterey is long gone – too valuable a real estate to stay rusty. I remember the area when I was little – it was gone then too, but there was a lingering sense of the time that Steinbeck so gorgeously captures. 

The startling difference is the attitude. Hobos and ne’er-do-wells being pretty much okay with who they are. If you had some sort of roof over your head, food and drink – life was good. Now, nothing ever seems to be enough.

The writing is enviable. Two pages on how to repair a Ford Model T — even if you are not a car person it’s engrossing. Steinbeck’s treatment of his characters is forgiving and affectionate: we are all a little, or a lot, broken and that is perfectly okay. Then there is Doc – the somewhat mysterious marine biologist who likes classical music and his solitude. Doesn’t everybody want to know a Doc? I know I do. 

I read Cannery Row when I was a teenager and enjoyed it, but I think you have to be a bit older to fully appreciate it – and to have had some of life’s knocks to understand the characters’ skins. It makes me nostalgic…nostalgic for a time that I wasn’t alive for but can imagine…when the country was uncluttered, unpaved, unchained/unbig-box stored.

Reading Steinbeck had me thinking of a summer when I was 19. I met a friend in Denver and we rode a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle through the Badlands of the Dakotas and other points of interest. How different the landscape is on a bike! Yes, it’s terribly dangerous but I am so glad I did it – it is a beautiful memory. That part of the trip I didn’t share with my mother because she would have freaked out, even though my dad had an old Indian Scout motorcycle which was off limits. It sat in the garage looking beautiful and propping up skis and other paraphernalia. 

I’m sorry we didn’t drive the Pacific Coast Highway into Steinbeck country. I would do it now, this time not on a bike and I think even with the changes, I could catch a glimpse of Doc’s tide pool, the Palace Flophouse, Lee Chong’s emporium, and out of the corner of my eye see the flutter of a girl’s dress as she strolls back to the Bear Flag.

“It is the hour of the pearl – the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.”

Happy Reading and Dreaming,

 

Clare

16 thoughts on “Western Biological

  1. I read it! And I love it. What a nice adventure🏜🏍💨
    I think people are going to feel this: “when the country was uncluttered, unpaved, unchained/unbig-box stored.” Life was so much better and simpler – I wish I have lived back then…Have a good night, Clare.💕

  2. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  3. Every time week or couple of days I spend half an hour reading this blog’s articles along with a mug of coffee. Thanks!

  4. Excellent essay, very informative. I wonder why the specialists of this sector don’t notice this. You must continue your writing. I am confident you have a great readers’ base already!

  5. Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

    Clare: yes I am on Twitter @clarewirwin

  6. I read your essay about Cannery Row by J. Steinbeck. My husband has mentioned to me about this book, he loves it. It was interesting for me to read your piece, to feel the past and history through your thoughts and your own recollection.

  7. Pacific Biological Laboratories, abbreviated PBL, was a biological supply house that sold preserved animals and prepared specimen microscope slides, many of which were of maritime aquatic species, to schools, museums, and research institutions. It was located in a building on what is now Monterey’s Cannery Row on Monterey Bay in Monterey County, California .

  8. You could certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say what they believe. Always go after your heart.❤️

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