Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Sea

The sea was calling me. I just had to go. I acted on impulse and convinced Kathy to join me. It was a glorious day after the rain. The plants had a fresh green look and the birds were out in full force to feed while the weather was clear. The air smelled by turns sweet and then pungent with various aromas—the wonderful scent of artemesia (California sage brush), the bracing salty air, and old broccoli. "Something is fermenting here," commented Kathy. "We are so fortunate to live near the California coast," she repeated over and over. We were feeling as glorious as the weather and the vista.

We walked for two hours enjoying the fantastic views, observing the plants and birds. Kathy can't resist snapping off a sample here and there. But she doesn't touch the endangered species and she does spread the seeds. The bird species observed included three of the sleek, gray California Gnatcatchers with their "mew, mew" call, dozens of White-crowned Sparrows, and several Yellow-rumped Warblers who were down on the ground pecking like the sparrows. A majestic Raven and his/her mate had a front row seat of the view of Catalina in the distance. A Red-tailed Hawk slowly rose on the warm air rising from the cliffs.

Why does it take so long to get ready for a short excursion like this? We couldn't decide what jackets to bring. Would it be cold? Windy? Or sunny and warm? We needed water, binoculars, my camera. Kathy needed her emergency diabetes supplies, sunglasses, the right hat. We were outfitted for a trek through the wilderness, but we were only going for a morning walk! And still I did not take into account the mud. Kathy had an extra pair of shoes, but I did not and drove home in my stocking feet (is that against the law in CA?) to avoid getting the car all muddy. When I got home, it took me half an hour to clean the mud off my new Nikes.

In Lights Out, T.S. Wiley says that our impulses are governed by serotonin. Without serotonin we would run amok and in today's world we need more control than ever. At night, melatonin is made out of the serotonin. We sleep it off and start each day afresh. Dark controls melatonin while light controls cortisol and dopamine. When you are feeling great, on top of the world, you are high on dopamine. Since serotonin is a downer, the best state to be in is one with high dopamine and low serotonin during the day. Serotonin blunts your perceptions while dopamine puts everything into high focus. But serotonin levels match insulin levels. So if you eat a high carb diet, your insulin goes up and so does your serotonin.

All very complicated, all very fascinating.

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