Autumn at the beach — a season that has some substance here because
the damp of the sea air puts a bite into the chill of things.

Ventura Beach is never what you would call a happening place.  Even in
high summer it's slow during the week, barely crowded on weekends.  Now
it's left to the surfers, who never stop, the year-round residents, a
strange breed, and the lost.

The McDonald's which I stop into often for a McBLT — an excellent, if
mushy, sandwich — is virtually deserted after dark, the Denny's across
the boulevard hardly less so.

Down the coast, the fields near the ocean are always dotted now with
imported farm workers, moving slowly along the furrows, harvesting
things.  Always a truck parked at the edge of the field near the road,
with racks where the workers hang their open, woven-straw hand-baskets,
stuffed with their personal effects.

You never wait in line at the Vons supermarket these days, amongst
vacationers laden with twelve-packs of beer and soda.  Just us members
of the Vons Club now, the regulars, with the discount card.

A beach town never feels desolate, though. The sound of the waves is a
constant reminder that it's hooked up to something vast and
industrious.  It's like having the TV on all the time . . . tuned to
the Cosmic Channel.

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