Swimming with Seals
Green Gates Nursery School was as lovely a little school as there ever was. Wooden steps led to a pretty little white house nestled among palms, bougainvillea, oleander and jasmine caressed by warm and gentle ocean breezes and sunny southern California weather. The La Jolla cottage had been transformed into a school for preschoolers long before the word "daycare" came into being. I attended Green Gates during the '50's for two years from the age of three. In addition to all the wonderful activities and learning experiences we were given by our teacher, Miss Mac Fadden, there were beach outings on especially warm days. The aide at the school, a tall, young woman with a thick brown braid that went halfway down her back, would take us swimming. Students who knew how to swim would line up and follow her to the beach. Crossing Prospect and walking along the hot sidewalks we made our way down to Hospitals or towards Casa, The Children's Pool. That area of La Jolla's beaches has always been home to seals and sea lions. Harbor seals and California sea lions swim, fish, play and wrap themselves up in bull kelp to nap in the water then haul out onto the rocks and beaches. We shared the beach and the water with the seals with never a worry. Watching the seals sunbathe and play in the water was as fun for me as swimming. One day we noticed that one of the swimming rings, an inflatable in the shape of a giraffe, had floated out to sea. Hue and cry went up from all those little toddlers. Our teacher, a strong swimmer, swam out and returned with the giraffe. Can you imagine, in contrast to the current level of fear and legal strangulation, only one teacher with about a dozen toddlers and then those little children left alone on the beach. We were never afraid, quite the contrary. We were made to feel capable and confident. Swimming with seals was just another day in paradise for us!