Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters

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Loon Point, Summerland, CA

Summerland is a tiny town, nay, suburb of Montecito, CA.  I actually think the town hasn’t decided if it’s really part of Carpinteria, however.  With the “town” a mere 4 blocks on Lillie you have the historic and celebrated greasy spoon, Stacky’s Seaside, sporting old nets fishing tools and gadget, lures, buoys and even tables and benches carved from old dories.  Then there’s Tinkers, which claims fame for it’s made-to-order hot dogs and burgers, where you can have grilled jalepenos and the works added to your dog. The rich and famous have indulged in both of these seaside dives, as celebrated in Los Angeles Magazine.  A slight step up may take you across the street to the Nugget, Summerland’s version of Woody’s...without the BBQ ribs, of course!  

 

One can’t forget the unforgettable Summerland Beach Cafe, with its old farmhouse feel and farmer’s portions.  It’s a local hangout on the weekdays and until 7:00-8:30 am on weekends, at which time the cowbells are delivered to your outdoor table to cheer on the racing cyclists who speed by with weekly regularity.  Yes, there are some newer wine and cheese places, where the hoity toity tout their bling and designer flip flops, but the rest of us avoid.  

 

The Big Yellow House, like a silent memory of the Grand Dame of Summerland, she sits alone and vacant at the top of the street. For those of us long time resident of the area, it was the elegant farmhouse, also with its farm portions served family style.  It’s where we visited with our families and family guests.  You felt like home without having to cook.

 

Menagerie, the Exotic Birds wooden house in the 3rd block of Lillie, is a reminder for those of us in the know, that many decades ago, a fire tore through the Montecito, that in and of itself, not such a rarity given the sundowners that frequent early Autumn each year, but this particular year, a very large aviary was destroyed, freeing hundreds of exotic birds into the local air.  Many have been caught over the years and reclaimed as pets, and many more pets are lured to join their ancestors in the Summerland skies and local trees.  It’s not uncommon to see flocks of parrots, parakeets and cockatoos perched upon the wires over our streets.  This is just one of the unique aspects of Summerland.

 

That and the train.  We know all the engineers by how long they sit on their horns as they fly through town.  One doesn’t let up once from Carpinteria to Goleta.  Still, at 2:07 5 am, we barely hear the horn or metal on metal track sounds anymore; the blare becomes one with the thunder of the stormy sea 0-5 blocks yonder from any Summerland house.  In my case, it’s 3.

 

Mail Delivery? What? Where?  It’s the bane of Summerland life.  Because the town is four blocks long and four blocks up...straight up, there is no mail delivery.  We are all required to have a PO box at the Summerland PO, but it’s only open M-F 11 am - 4 pm, with no package delivery and no Saturday hours, so if you work a full time job, then forget it!  It’s our own local catch 22. But maybe it reiterates that you must either be an old surfer hippie living out of the $15,000 beach shack you bought in the 50’s, or you’re so wealthy you don’t need to work.

 

Summerland, where you must own a dog to live here.  Yet it escapes me as to how I can be the only person in town who actually picks up after my dog.  Carry a flashlight, because the little land mines are frequent encounters along the hilly streets.  For a cozy little town, the people are not very neighborly here.  That still always surprises me.

 

ALAS, It’s the view of the ocean and the fact that you can see both the sunrise and sunset from your deck that sells this place though.  Old weathered beach shacks go for at least a million dollars here now, their homemade concrete shoring up on the sides, decorated with abalone and large local shells, landscaping a collage of tropical, eucalyptus, iceplant and exotic succulents and climbing cacti.  

 

You may have to drive 15-20 minutes for the necessities of living, but for many of us here, the necessities are more than met in sky and shore and sea air.  My morning newspaper is a quick consultation of the tide-charts, and my wake-up coffee is an hour-long walk on the beach before work.  My afterwork drink is another walk on the beach--of course, you have to time it so that you’re not trampled by the trainers exercising the polo club horses!  My collection of sea glass grows in time with my seashells and sea stones.  Life is more than good, and I don’t forget how lucky I am.

 

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