Hendry's Beach, Santa Barbara, CA
Sometimes we Santa Barbarans get caught up in the bustle of a workday or simply the familiarity of our city that we forget to stop and notice the undeniable beauty that surrounds us everyday. Needing to “get away,” I journey off to new and picturesque parts of our country and forget that I am already living in one of the most beautiful, picturesque places in the world. I am reminded of that during my travels when people ask me where I’m from. They emit a wistful sigh and look to the sky dreamingly, saying how I am soooo lucky to live here--that it’s one of the places they want to visit before they die.
Practically a native now, and confidentally able to label myself a "local" at last, having lived here 35 years, I’ve seen it grow and change over the years. I’ve been here long enough to be aware of the life of one stately old Montecito mansion that once was a women’s dormitory since the 40’s-50’s (of the college I later attended) to a hippie commune in the 60’s & 70’s (which I visited with my folks then), back to a family residence in the 80’s & 90’s.
I’ve watched the coastline erode and change with the storms throughout the years, witnessed the oil spills marring each decade, followed by the expected march down State Street protesting offshore drilling, and the cleanup efforts that were never enough. You can't truly call yourself a local (even WITH 35 years) if you don't have a little tar on the soles of your feet at least once a week.
Mom and Pop shops lined State Street, and I remember when any shopping you had to do, from hardware to clothing to a haircut, had to be done before 6 p.m. because the entire city rolled up its sidewalks at that hour, even in the Summers. Sundays nothing was open at all but for a few restaurants. There was no Costco, Kmart, Best Buy, Home Depot or anything remotely resembling a box store. We would sit cross-legged on the floor and drink new varieties of tea at the historic Tea House, read books with our neighbors around the firepit in Earthling Bookstore, and we college students would have a midnight-study break cinnamon roll at Frimples, where the huge fig tree grew up through the middle of the restaurant. No reservations were needed at El Capitan and no parking lots charged a fee. I worked at Garfield, Lincoln & Wilson Schools, all three closing when the population of school age children dropped so low. Then and now, State Street is still the home of the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Parade and the Solstice Parade, and on any corner you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about Greenpeace and saving some endangered animal or habitat. Flags still hang from the lamposts lining State Street, the variety only having increased over the years. Artwork, flipflops and music still abound. The most wonderful part is that I can walk down any street and run into 3 or 4 people I know and stop to chat. Yes, I can call it my hometown.
I look around me at these daily sights, not but a few blocks from my house. I am truly lucky to have such natural beauty around me!
I look around me at these daily sights, not but a few blocks from my house. I am truly lucky to have such natural beauty around me! Some views from Hendry’s Beach (Arroyo Burro Beach) today:
The coastline is rich for geologic study, and I’ve often brought my daughter and students down here to study them.
I love this newer mosaic mural at the Watershed Learning Center here. This is just a tiny portion of it.
These photos are certainly not the best photos, nor taken at optimal lighting and angles. Many other photographers far more adept than I have done better justice to the area, but these are just everyday shots--unplanned, candid, if you will, Santa Barbara without its make-up on for the tourists. It suits me just fine.
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