Surf stirs up sand surges

Written by Richard Wiens, The Triplicate January 27, 2010 06:24 pm

Maybe I spent too many years in snowy environs, but when a county road crew is scraping sand off the road instead of spreading it on, you know something unusual is afoot with the weather.

The Triplicate’s Bryant Anderson photographed the sand-removal operation at the same time he was capturing images of another strange sight courtesy of last week’s storms: a wintertime congregation of at least a hundred pelicans huddled near the north end of Pebble Beach.

Knowing I’m a pelican admirer, he was thoughtful enough to call me so I could drive out and take my own photos. There was a break in the rain, if not the wind, and I snapped away at the horde from close range. A few at a time would spread their considerable wings and take off with Castle Rock and gnarly waves in the background. The setting, plus the luxury of unlimited picture-taking that digital photography affords, produced a shot good enough to illicit e-mail oohs and ahhs from my inland friends and relatives.

This is my third winter in Del Norte. I’ve seen enough to know that high surfs typically strip the beach of its sand. The stretch of coastline near where those pelicans were hanging out is typically an exposed expanse of lava-like rock this time of year. Two weeks ago you could have traipsed around on them, inspecting newly created canals and pools for leftover starfish, etc.

But these storms built up the beach instead of eroding it. And the flat rock-tops that usually glisten until spring temporarily vanished.

One of the Pebble Beach stairways leads to a rocky ledge that is typically about 6 feet above the sand. Right now it’s maybe a 2-foot drop — one small step for man, one giant storm-driven leap in beach altitude.

FOCUS ON STUDENT HEALTH

Today’s Triplicate contains the first installment of a series on the health of students in Del Norte schools. It’s an issue that took on new urgency after officials checked the body mass indexes of hundreds of children last school year and found nearly half of them to be overweight or obese.

A new round of BMI-checking is under way, and officials are hoping for improved numbers as a result of efforts to teach better eating habits by educating students about nutrition. The schools are also striving to serve nutritionally balanced breakfasts and lunches, and they’re encouraging students to take full advantage of the physical education classes they’re required to take.

Running through Saturday, reporter Kelley Atherton’s stories will explore these efforts. You’ll hear from the school nurses who serve on the front lines of the battle against the health problems that can evolve from bad eating habits and a lack of exercise.

And you’ll hear from the students, including some who are making this discovery: Healthy food tastes good.

That’s a lesson worthy of lifelong learning.