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It could have been any time since the 1930s, just as Raymond Chandler described it- minus a few thousand cars and a smattering of modern hotels- people’s attire alone indicating the passage of time. The surprise escarpment down to the beach concealing Highway One and the line of grand old houses- and the parking lot. The pier, its timbers and amusements looking simultaneously tired and classic, the long boardwalk to the ocean, the wooden lifesaver’s huts, all straight from the page or from celluloid. Down at the shore, city people trying to get beachy, creating a thick human cordon between the water and the sandy expanse behind, only a rogue pack of kids flaunting the “no swimming” signs.

Santa Monica beach, LA

We arrived on a late winter’s afternoon- late winter Southern California style- so 27 degrees. The sun, hanging low over the Pacific vastness, burned our faces, but at the same time they were cooled by the ocean breeze. The ocean glistened while the light danced as only western light can. Overhead, a canopy of native palm and eucalyptus, an antipodean introduction, scented the air both with the familiar and the exotic. The sky blue, blue, blue.