Subject: Kayaking under the full moon on Morrow Bay with Diane Lane
To: Maire Anne Diamond
Date: Sunday, May 10, 2009, 11:12 AM
Good morning and happy Mother's Day.
I'm so glad I followed my impulses and went on the night kayak trip in Morrow Bay (my impulses seem to be very good recently). I arrived there early and had dinner at an informal little cafe overlooking the bay. Then it was time to queue up for the trip. Meeting time at the dock was 7:15. The sun was still up but a breeze was blowing. I went down to the dock, met the young man heading up the trip, and found him dressed head to toe in wind gear. "I have a Gore-Tex shell in the car; should I get it?" I asked. "That might be good," he said.
What I thought was a squeeze-me-into-a-full-trip-because-I-called-at-the-last-minute thing was, instead, a very small excursion. He said "it's just you and a mom and daughter." We waited for them to show up. Finally I saw them walking toward us along the dock. From a distance they looked like two young women; it wasn't obvious they were mother and daughter until they got closer. And, as they did, I realize that the mother looked familiar. It was the actress Diane Lane (Under the Tuscan Sun, Must Love Dogs, Infidelity, The Perfect Storm, and, more recently, Superman's mother).
So, yes, I went kayaking in the moonlight on Morrow Bay with Diane Lane and her daughter. I trust our marriage can survive this little indiscretion.
Initially, as we were standing on the dock, we were all getting pretty cold with the wind blowing up a bit of chop on the bay. The guide said "we'll paddle up the bay -- into the current and into the wind -- and then just drift back. We'll warm up as soon as we're paddling and underway. Besides, the wind dies down after the sun goes down."
He was right. We saw a gorgeous sunset from kayak-level right over Morrow Rock. It took quite a while for the moon to come out, but it did, and we kayaked around on the bay in the moonlight, pausing for hot chocolate that the guide had brought. Very memorable.
On the kayak excursion company's web site, they talked about the evening kayak rides as letting you see more wildlife, but the guide said that this time of year there's less of it in the bay. We did see flocks of cormorants bringing flotsam and jetsam to their nests, a handful of seals, and big white pelicans.
And the star of the show... Ms. Lane's daughter asked about sharks (I don't think she really was serious; just the kind of joke you make when your ass is separated from the ocean by only a quarter inch of fiberglass). The guide said that in fact it's breeding season for some harmless kind of shark, and many do find their way into the bay, and in calm still water you can see them. This engendered many shark jokes and "da DUM... da DUM" sounds
So we're paddling along, the sun's down, the water is dead calm and glassy, with the light reflected off it so you can see anything break the surface, and we see... a fin. "There's one," the instructor says. "Just stay still, it'll swim right past us. And all the little action on the surface -- that's small bait fish escaping from it." But this fin isn't consistently and monolithically staying proud of the water Jaws-like; it's changing angles and flopping around. As it comes closer, we realize it's not a shark -- it's a bat ray, a small one, maybe two feet across, and we're seeing the tips of its wings as they break the water. Very cool.
Ms. Lane -- who introduced herself as "Diane" -- was very down-to-earth. I didn't let on I knew who she was; I allowed her the dignity of just being a mom on a kayak trip with her daughter. We small-talked and unearth the fact that we were both originally from NY. At one point she accidentally bumped my kayak and said "yeah, this bay's not big enough for the both of us." Eventually I relaxed enough to be my wise-cracking self. Her daughter at one point said "I like him. He's funny like dad."
The whole trip took about two hours. Near the end, I could see she was shivering and blowing on her hands. "I'm going to pull up next to you and hand you a pair of gloves," I said (I had them in the pocket of my shell). She said "thank you so much; I didn't think I'd accept them." I said "that was why I didn't ask." (And I thought of COURSE you're cold; you probably don't break a hundred pounds soaking wet.)
On the dock, as we were putting away life jackets, we were chatting with the guide. Somehow the subject of dogs came up, and the guide said he owns a dog, half shepherd, half rottweiler, that weighs about 120 lbs. I nearly said "wow, you MUST LOVE DOGS," but decided to leave well enough alone.
I constructed a nice fantasy where this was our meet-cute, she invited me to dinner with her daughter, then a drink afterward, with me spurning her advances and professing my undying love for you, and the rest of it spinning out like one of her movies, but it never happened.
And so, I remain, eternally yours, unsullied by cheap encounters with lonely movie stars in coastal California resorts.