Walk Publishing LLC is proud to have published these three outstanding hardcover and softcover books. Our high quality printing and papers bring out the beauty of the water color paintings of the artist-author. And most importantly, the excellent reviews of these books attest to our featuring of Audrey Shumacher Moe’s books on this website.
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Walk Publishing LLC has more recently published a fun, quick read, paperback: Celebrities in Hiding. In this book, you will find the same skill and artistic talent that makes Beachwalk and Desertwalk so special, applied in Celebrities to bring life to interesting true stories about celebrities in The Desert.
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I was four years old when my mother died. She was thirty-four and left nine children, four boys and five girls, the youngest of which were my six month old twin sisters. I recall very little from that time. My most vivid memory is from my mother’s funeral. I can still see my father and my eight siblings sitting in a small side room on chairs lined up in two rows. Heavy closed draperies separated us from the people in the big room. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew for sure it was bad, because my father was crying. That year when my mother left this world, I began my life with an elderly great Auntie, who raised me as if I were her own.
From that beginning in rural Minnesota, the woods, lakes and plains of middle North America, I ended up forty-three years later on the very western edge of the continent in a house facing the infinite sea. A house from which each evening a fire ball sun drowned in the ocean leaving behind a sky layered with orange, red, cerise, and mauve. Each morning an ever changing horizon of waves and fog and glimpses of offshore islands once attached to the land beckoned me with beguiling promises. All was new in this world I had not known as a child. Every excursion on the beach uncovered mysteries, creatures to identify, names to memorize, life cycles to follow.
Corona del Mar and Crystal Cove State Beach, part of the California coastline midway between Los Angeles and San Diego were my hunting grounds, my text for learning. So I began my beachwalks, walks that soon taught me to appreciate the butterfly and crab, the fog and mist as well as the sun and diving dolphins. A grain of sand might hold my interest and help me see life in perspective just as much as the sight of a breaching whale.
Local surfers called it Horse Beach. Because of its seclusion and long stretches of breaking surf, it was an ideal place to catch the waves. On this stretch of pristine sand, favorite coves were marked with whimsical driftwood shelters offering some protection from sun and wind, but mostly representing a collective surfing comradeship. Only the adventurous crawled through the fence on the highway above, hiked across open fields and slipped down steep cliffs to reach the beach below.
There were always a few beach parties, on weekends a sprinkling of day visitors, and once in a while, a vagrant would spend the night under the stars next to the surf. But most of the time the beach was deserted, the domain of birds, sea lions and a myriad of small sea creatures. Residents of Cameo Shores, a small community to the north and where I live, held coveted keys to a locked gate allowing use of the secluded beach. The land was privately owned and had not changed significantly since the time when early explorers trekked through California territory with hopes of colonizing the New World.
At Crystal Cove, a midpoint in the three mile stretch of beach, forty-two vintage cottages look out to sea from their cliff-side perches. Hidden from the highway by trees and brush, some are tucked in along a drainage stream from the hills beyond. These cozy seaside dwellings provide a comforting presence of others, who love the solitude and spiritual qualities of relatively untouched coastal shoreline.
Once a boarding stable sat on the bluff above the shoreline. Its trails led across the coastal terrace through fields of wild sage and buckwheat and finally to steep, rock-studded paths snaking down gnarled cliffs of faulted sandstone to waves and beach below. My first visits to this wild, isolated environment were imprinted with the image of a horse and rider galloping along on hard-packed sand by the water’s edge. In my mind, I can still see the horse stumbling as an unpredictable wave pushes higher on the beach. Regaining its footing, horse and rider head away from the surf to safer ground.
The stable is long gone now and only jutting crags of sea-washed rock form images as misty blue-gray waves toss their sparkle upon the shore. Where horses once grazed, brushy Deerweed and tiny Sun Cup compete for space amongst alien Wild Mustard and Tree Tobacco. Small animals, rabbits, ground squirrels, skunks, rodents and reptiles shelter under stands of saltbush and the melodious song of the Meadowlark mingles with the soft mewing of the California Gnatcatcher.
This undeveloped piece of ground and seacoast became my hideaway and my renewal as I discovered its treasures through daily excursions. The soft beach sand became my jogging path, the sea life cast upon the shore my textbook. Each day’s variations stimulated my desire to learn. As time passed my knees stiffened and the jogs became walks. The beach went through adjustments as well. On the bluff top development plans were proposed but later revised as the beach and inland area were designated a state park. At first little changed, but then herb-scented paths gave way to a golf course and elaborate Mediterranean villas filled the fields between my home and the park. Where before I had walked wild trails, my gate led instead to asphalt golf cart paths, and the spice of natural sage mingles with the scent of newly mown grass. Horse Beach is now Crystal Cove State Park and with public access has come parking lots, paved trails, and public restrooms. The vintage beach cottages at Crystal Cove have been vacated and more changes are to come.
I still love this beach and it remains my refuge and place of renewal, and now I share it with others who can find healing in the sand and sea. Of those who visit this beautiful strip of coastline, few will know or remember its history as Horse Beach, let alone recall scenes with horses picturesquely poised atop the bluff or at the water’s edge. For me, I like to think that on a foggy morning, if I squint my eyes, I can just make out the shape of a horse and rider melting into the foamy surf. But when I blink, all that is left is misty air; the figures fade from sight, but not from memory.
I was fortunate to experience Horse Beach at a special time in history, a time when this small section of California coastline was still wild and sparsely populated. Yet as things change I must accept what change brings. My beachwalks changed me, they enriched and shaped my life. I invite you to join me on these walks and through my discoveries find your life changed, as you think about the treasures each of us can find if only we take time to look and find you Beachwalk Introduction.
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