Cocoanut Grove
Monday June 04th 2007, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Life

Only in Santa Cruz.

We had a friend graduate from a school teaching traditional Chinese medicine, and the ceremonies were held yesterday afternoon at a beautiful old assembly hall a block or two from the school.

That it was to be in Santa Cruz, we knew. What we weren’t expecting was that it was upstairs in the building at the end of the kitschy old boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The noise from below was well muffled, except for the incessant vibrations at our feet from the busy arcade on the ground floor.

Yet such a grand old place. The carpeting was an endless look-at-me swirling pattern that so much reminded me of the matching dark red and gold one in the luxury apartment my grandparents had had in Washington, DC when I was growing up. That same old elegance. There was a huge mirror above the long, steep staircase, with a poster in the middle of it with a list of the Big Bands that had performed there between 1931 and 1964: Benny Goodman. Artie Shaw. Merv Griffin (Merv Griffin? I had to go look him up later. Huh. Learn something new.) The assembly room was like the forward portion of a boat, with a curved line of windows looking out on the beach, the seagulls floating on air right in front of us, the fog rolling in, the waves coming towards us, the sunbathers below, although you had to go right up to the windows to see straight enough down to see them. The sailboats were bobbing gently in the water, some close, some stretched further on out. Such a peaceful view. I understood why they’d chosen the place.

And then, the ceremony: native Chinese medical teachers mixed with one from Sweden and a few others, traditional Chinese pronouncements of the meanings and elements of the earth, then greeting each graduate with a hug, American style. I loved it.

I had asked my friend whether it would be okay to knit during the proceedings? She, a knitter herself, said, sure! While lamenting that she herself had probably better not. So I did, and when it got to where I probably wouldn’t have time to finish another long row on my shawl project, not wanting to stop mid-row, I reached for a new ball of yarn and needles and began a scarf that I could put aside more quickly: on bamboo yarn. Glancing at my stash that morning, I’d thought, what could fit the day more perfectly?

As we left afterwards, I had to laugh: we came out the door at the bottom beneath the very pink wall you’ll see if you look at the Wikipedia entry on the place. Picture the beach goers, the Santa Cruz free spirits, and us: my 6’8″ husband with his tall hat to try to keep the family skin cancer away, white Oxford shirt, dark wool dress pants, and me in my Sunday best, a blouse and linen skirt with a pink circular lace shawl on. I’m sure we looked almost Amish by comparison. We were somebody else’s weird California look-and-point. It was suddenly very funny. Only in Santa Cruz! We fit right in.

8 Comments so far
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Will you be posting pics of the scarf? I’d love to see it.

Comment by Amanda 06.04.07 @ 4:27 pm

I’m sure they point and laugh at me too! It sounds like it was a wonderful ceremony and you got to knit so what more could you want? I too would like to see the scarf when you figure out how to get pictures up on this blog. I am awaiting my pre-ordered copy of your book with breathless anticipation! I’m spinning some lace weight in hopes of making something to do your patterns justice 🙂

Comment by Jane 06.04.07 @ 5:05 pm

Oh, I thoroughly enjoyed the stroll from Cocoanut Grove. It was great fun. As for the scarf, there’s not a whole lot there yet; I went back to work on the shawl project after I got home.

Comment by AlisonH 06.04.07 @ 9:02 pm

I was so hoping that the logjam at Harlot’s kept anyone from noticing I had the day of the week wrong.

I’m so ashamed. (slinks into the underbrush….)

Comment by rams 06.05.07 @ 1:31 am

Rofl, Rams! Like I’ve never done that…

Comment by AlisonH 06.05.07 @ 9:38 am

You make me miss Santa Cruz. I used to live out there, in the valley east over the hills from Santa Cruz. My family used to go there often.

I, like the others, would love to see that shawl, too.

Comment by sparkle j 06.05.07 @ 10:20 am

My family and I lived in Fremont, but spent a lot of time in Gilroy and Morgan Hill. I was out there in May of 2005 for a visit. We didn’t get to Santa Cruz, unfortunately, but spent quite a bit of time in Monterey and drove along Big Sur. I’m getting nostalgic again. I moved away when I was 10 years old, and it’s amazing how much of that valley still lingers in my mind 20 years later.

Comment by sparkle j 06.05.07 @ 11:18 am

(I had emailed Sparkle J and asked her whereabouts she’d lived.)

If you drive along Big Sur and the Monterey areas in the spring, especially, you easily see where Kaffe Fassett’s colors spring from: his Carpet Coat reminds me so much of the plants that flower in shades of orange in the sand dunes along the way. He grew up in Big Sur.

Comment by AlisonH 06.05.07 @ 11:46 am

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