Monterey California was founded by Saint Junipero Serra a couple centuries ago, in 1770, but was visited by Spanish explorers in 1520. Native people were here for thousands of years before that. It's been our home for 30 years, and while we've seen a lot of changes, not all for the better here, it remains a place that we like, if not love. After decades in overcrowded Washington DC, we loved the chance to throttle back and enjoy the peace and quiet, sea lions barking notwithstanding.
Walking the shore in the early morning is a great tonic for anything. Watching the American Avocets comb the shore for food puts the world in prospective.
In many ways, Monterey remains a small fishing village with a tourist problem. Plenty of commercial fishermen still work from the docks here, and the distinct Sicilian accents are hard to miss, even their loud, expletive-filled arguments. The town has resisted change for changes sake. Old historic Adobes were saved from the wrecking ball in the 1960's, including the place that Robert Louis Stevenson stayed writing Treasure Island. John Steinbeck, once reviled as a professional writer by the 'Montereyans,' is now sanctified, and listed among the greatest residents in this little town of 30,000 people.
Cannery Row, which he immortalized, remains "a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and ***** houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses...."
Here's to John and to Monterey this holiday season. It's not so bad after all.