Today I had a whole lotta nuthin’ on my agenda, so I decided to go for a little drive.
From my place, take Petaluma Boulevard North, um, north for a few blocks (at which point it transparently and arbitrarily becomes Petaluma Boulevard South as you cross B Street). Hang a left at Western Avenue. Stay on that road for 25 miles and you’ll reach Bodega Bay. I know, because this is how I spent my afternoon.
The land between Petaluma and Bodega is part of California’s Dairyland. The hills are rolling, the trees are sparse and the Happy California Cows™ must outnumber humans by a factor of at least two to one. It is beautiful pastoral coastal country and I regret not pulling over to take pictures (though I trust there will be ample opportunity for that later).
My purported albeit vague reason for driving through this land was to reach Bodega Bay and possibly purchase fresh fish straight from the boat of a fisherman. I had no cause to believe that I would find such a thing there, but it seemed worth a shot anyway. When I finally did reach the Bay, it turned out that there currently were no fisherman in port who could sell me their fish. This was primarily because there were no major fish in season. Instead—as I knew had I only bothered to remember what I had read in the paper—it was the first few days of dungeness crab season. The boats at dock were piled high with crab pots and the rails of the public pier were festooned with the yellow nylon ropes that signified a pot on the sea floor below. While walking the pier I had the brief company of this sea bird. It very lazily paddled its way along, obviously unconcerned about whatever nonexistent threat I might pose to it.
There were families on the pier as well, drinking beer and chatting it up as the waited to pull up their crab pots. It’s a funny thing, really. These crabs will be the talk of the town in San Francisco next week. Gourmands will pay a premium for dishes containing the fresh crabmeat in all of its various forms. Yet here were working class families, drinking cheap beer out of cans, who would feast just as well (if not better) and for free. I am not a fan of crustaceous foodstuff myself, but I cannot believe that the most precisely prepared complicated $75 a plate crab dish at Gary Danko is going to be so far superior to the simply prepared and served meal of self-caught and -cooked crab that these people would be enjoying tonight.
By this time it was approaching noon and I was getting hungry. So I wandered along the shore for a while towards what I thought was a collection of small rocks. Not so! Instead it was a large flock of sand pipers (large and small, so there must have been at least two species in attendance). They were gathered on a small and rare spit of exposed sand, standing amongst the strands of beached sea grass and eating the flies and other bugs which had come to live in the grass. I pulled up a big flat rock (so to speak) and munched on the onion foccaccia and hunk of Keen’s Farmhouse Raw Cheddar that I had brought along for lunch. (To interject some foodieness into the post, I feel the need to say that if you’ve never had Keen’s cheddar you’re really missing a lovely bit of cheese the way its meant to be enjoyed.) I sat and munched. The birds stood and, um, piped. Occasionally a boat would quickly leave the Bay and raise wakes which would upset the birds. Overall though it was a very pleasant way to spend some time.
Eventually I headed back for home (obviously). I did not come bearing fresh fish still cold from the ocean. All I returned with were pictures and a belly full of cheese. Which, really, isn’t such a bad thing. It was a good day and I’m grateful to have been party to it.