Posts Tagged ‘ocean’

I sat on the beach in Barview, OR, listening to the ocean. In its murmur i heard “the sea will reclaim this all, the sea will reclaim this all”. I have heard this before out on the coast, but this time it spoke much louder than before. “this will all be returned to the sea”. The land is low where i sit, and where i camp is probably less than 10 feet above sea level. Even my tent site is on sand, though beyond the low scrub and under a trees. I am by the jetty to Tillamook bay – on land which people camp but few live. I look down the beach and see the headlands, and far up several miles to others, and look at the hills that lay behind – inland a very short way. I see a shoreline that may be, and know that this area is borrowed from the sea. And in the morning when i walked on the jetty i understood completely what is met by a maritime environment; the clouds lay low, and with the sea form a bowl of grey moist air; air so heavy that it feels as if it too, is as much of the sea as of the sky.

some of what will be reclaimed

I have had this sense before – down the coast in other lowlands, in Crescent City last summer when i was there, and i became afraid, and when i camped only a few feet from beach, earlier in the week. A few days have passed since i was in Barview, and that sense has returned to me. I walk the beach in Seaside, and again hear the same thing. i look at tillamook head to the south, and the hills that lay behind the town, and again i see a future shoreline. I wonder if it is also a shoreline of the past as timelines blur in my mind. And i know the sea will reclaim this all, it has before, it will again – but the question is when.

sign often seen along the coast

Is my sense merely fear brought on by the tsunami warning signs posted up and down the coast, and evacuation routes posted in campgrounds and in motel rooms. It is known that it will happen again. And i often think that is why these beach towns are not a place to live, have never really been, for the sea that caresses also engulfs. The winter storms slowly eat up the coastline, carving out the land.

I see the salt of the sea returning, the water salty like our tears, the water that is the element of emotions, and i wonder if god cries. And i wonder if the great waves and floods are a way of returning the salt to the earth once more. i think of floodplains along river banks, and how that provides fertility to the soil, but here the water is salty, and i know how salinization prevents crops from growing and can make inland seas dead. But in the ocean there is life, and perhaps its water and salt will purify all, so that something new may spring forth. will the sea wash all of this away i ask as i sit on the beach and i know the answer is yes, sometime.

Why does this come up over and over again? Why does the ocean speak to me this way? Why do i envision so many lowlands covered in water, be it by the slowly rising oceans or tidal waves? Is my discomfort when i venture out to low lying pennisulas connected to the mainland by only a thin stretch of land that lays as low or by a bridge, the fear of the waters coming in, the fear of  emotions engulfing what seems so solid, only to be swept away. Water represents emotions, and it has the power to carve and shape what seems to be solid stone. Am i that piece of earth that could be swallowed up or  re-formed?

Many times i walk the beach at low tide, aware of the land i am walking on belonged to the sea but a few hours before, and will return there once more, and will become part of the ocean floor. This is the intertidal zone, with a life of its own, a part of both, reminding us how we are connected. And i know, from books and writing, that much of what lay below the sea was once “land” and what is land was part of the sea, even that which now lay high above or far away. I know that the continents as they now appear, were not always this way, and the shoreline that we see is what it is, but only for a blip in the span of time.

giant ancient tree stump buried beneath the sea for 4100 years

I was by another beach, a tree stump on display – not merely the driftwood that washes ashore, but one of several uncovered in a mighty storm several years before.  A giant spruce tree estimated to be 4100 years old, buried for so long, only to be revealed. A reminder once again that the shore was not always as it is. I think of the rock formations up and down the coast, and also inland, that speak to me of creatures, peoples, and spirits who were caught unaware.  i know the land here once belonged to the sea – and perhaps the future shoreline that i see, is also one of the past. And once again i hear inside “the sea will reclaim this all” – and inside i hear, and that is ok.

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I no longer hear the ocean from my tent; the water is further away – 1/4 mile down a paved path through straggly forest and across low dunes. The fog horn calls out though it is clear and i sit near the water anticipating a “traditional” pacific sunset – one where you see the golden ball drop into the ocean – or so it appears though “i know” it is not really so. I sit on a bench on a viewing platform above the beach, the small dunes covered in dunegrass.

As i walked out here i read the interpretive signs painted on the pavement, how where i sit right now was part of the ocean still back in ’74 – in my lifetime. and as i walked out i passed the signs for many other years; the paved path that i took to the jetty that built this land earlier on was the shoreline in 1840 or so. The boulders piled in two straight lines in order to allow safe passage into the bay has altered this terrain; this very place shifted from sea to earth, and on the land from grass to flowers to shrubs and a small straggly forest behind.

And i thought as i waited for the sun to set, how building or creating one new thing can cause the entire environment to shift and how amazing if we create just one thing how much change can abound. And as i sat i knew that if it were not for the interpretive signs you could easily imagine that it had always been that way as i had earlier as i made my way over small dunes to the beach – and how often in life do we imagine that what exists in what is really a moment or blip in time, to be the natural order of things, the way it is and must be. But grain by grain tossed in the wind and surf, and seed by seed, the ocean waters have become a place where deer now live and people walk and sit, and the sea creatures have been displaced and have moved further on out. And what us humans built boulder by boulder has altered it so.

The sun did not sink into the ocean but once again disappeared into a bank of fog. And before i left i looked at a sign once more – how the jetty had been build to stop the migrating flow of sands, those that shifted and flowed up and down the coast. And i thought of my tired legs and what seemed to be stiff hips, and of how when we stop the flows, stuff stagnates and accumulates, taking on a life of its own – and i thought of blocked energy and maintaining the flow. I though of this tsunami zone and how long the jettys and the sand might hold, will it one day (or when is the day?) that it will all be swept away? Of will the sands have another long time to accumulate and grow, and then will extend beyond the jetty, and flow up and down once more. Or it is just a shifting of flow, one passage opened up, and all is change anyways.

I went to bed and found that i could hear the ocean as well as the fog horn that sounded throughout the night. I did not meld with the sound as i had when i camped a few feet from the shore, but its sound was there and part of what lulled me to sleep. And just before i went to bed, i thought of the campground at jessica honeyman south of florence in the land of the dunes where i never saw or heard the open ocean; two miles of dunes and atvs divided the place from the shore. if i were to return here in 500 years or so where would the shoreline be?

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It feels weird to be typing this in a tent -and i see my battery is not as charged as it was when i turned off this machine the other day.

I slept long last night – with intense dreams – saw a script though i do not remember what it said, a scroll of sorts. my dreams out here and the sleep have been full, a good part of my time it seems in that other world. the sleep was deep, though i still feel i need padding for my hips. Clouds or fog have come in and it seems that all around have slept late.

I heard the ocean last night, it caressed me and became part of me, lulling me to sleep, and i felt like i was in a womb. I crawled into my tent, the clouds above forming a container with the ground beneath – and so many containers, or now that i type this maybe veils – the wind-blown distorted straggling low-lying spruce that form a roof, then my tent beneath, and within my sleeping bag pulled up over my head – and the ocean continues, and it feels like a womb, that i am being lapped in the salty water.

An interesting sunset last night as a low bank of  clouds came in off the ocean, and another, slightly higher, came down from the north, meeting and starting to join just as the sun was falling behind – the yellow ball hidden from sight, but rays of gold streamed through the gap reflecting off the water below, beaming through like in one of those old religious paintings. (tonight it was different, the sun did wobble above the clouds, felt a haze around it, then it appeared to balance on top of the thick grey, and then it sank behind – and i though of the earth turning and of the moons rotation as i looked to the south and saw it in the sky.

Today the sun has gone, or has hidden away, and i come back to a coast i remember so well and i did not want to crawl out of my cocoon. but the day has come, and the roar of the traffic on the 101 joins that of the ocean, and i can spend no more time in that other world.

And i feel a bit weak – my diet i wonder – switching more to that packaged american fare – the stuff we call ‘food’ that comes from a package or a factory or is shipped hundreds or thousands of miles. I bought broccoli last night and it was bad, spit it out and it churns in my stomach. I lay in bed, or in my bag, before the ocean entered in, longing for fresh food, sun, from the garden, harvested then and there, a true farmers stand and seasonal bounty not stuff made in a factory or shipped from away, the seasons irrelevant, where time and place matter no more. i thought of fish and the oceans bounty, and all i have had is tuna from a can. But soon i will eat my organic peanut butter and conventional banana sandwich on whole wheat bread and i drink my coffee from a can. I feel a slight chill from the ocean air but i dare not long for the heat, for a week ago as i sweltered under the blazing sun i longed for the cool, and to appreciate what is here. like the food i crave, to be here now, in this time and space.

Last night i sat behind an outcropping – a barrier from the wind. a woman came over with her cane, said what a good location, and her adult kids brought her over a chair. “these bags i have are full of sand, i make beaches from my grandniece back east – sand and shells and rocks from where i go, her little beaches in a jar. She has never seen a beach, and probably never will.” i say “you never know, the beaches you gave may call her forth one of these years”. “times are tough all over’, she says, “they may never get to travel.”

A family sits not far away, later she says they are from wisconsin, living in their van, all their possessions piled in there, the dad looking for work across the country and now down the coast. I think “they have nothing, and are on the road, a different type of travel you see” and i remember all those i have met living on the road – the home a van, an rv, a car or a tent. an old dog tries to run with the kids, and they cook hotdogs on sticks on a fire of found wood as the sun is setting, laughing, making lemonade from the lemons in life – and part of me says how lucky those kids are.

I talk to the woman – she has been in the state just over a year and tells me some of her life; “when you see me staring up in the sky at planes, you know i have been somewhere too long.” “If i were 40 again i would become a truck driver and see the country that way” – she smiles as she recollects the two years she rode with her son in his truck. I love to travel solo, but the world was not ready for me – different then – a woman travelling on her own. And i rejoice in the stories and a moment shared.
But that was last night and now it is morning.

I walked to Waldport on the beach, and back again – between 3-4 miles each way depending on which map you read. The tide was out and the beach was wide, and with the grey sky the winds of days gone by had mellowed into merely a breeze. As i walked i felt myself on the edge of the continent – wondering why with this immense land mass i cling to the edge – the edge where it descends into the sea, another world not for us humans to live – a different place where i or others will never truly understand. and i thought of the gulf coast and imagined the oil slick and the animals and life that was suffering there and i prayed. Then i turned the corner into the small alesea bay, up towards the town and i realized that the ground or sand i was walking on had been part of that other world, under the water, just a few hours before and it would be again.

when i got to waldport i asked myself why? why had i come? as i know i have done time and time again. The sky was grey and the town felt empty and sad – as it had before from time to time. the resto with the fish and chips had changed hands and it was empty inside and many more places seemed empty or shut on the road that makes up the town. I sat by the bay with a weak coffee, and remembered my thoughts of earlier that day.

Thoughts of the return to the familiar – how i have done it once again, and i thought back to that time in monterey when i first was truly conscious of my tiredness of exploration and how i was doing so little of that anymore. The familiar – need not search out for much. you have an idea of what you will encounter – though it is never truly the same and what you had forgotten comes back and you see the sameness once again. And with the clouds of today the familiarity of the coast came back and Walport, the more blue-collar town – though that world doesn’t really exist out here anymore – with its flea market, and laundromat and wifi not to be found on a sunday with the library closed, made me think of robert and doing laundry on a cold rainy day, and my search for books, and how it seems to be more his type of town – life goes on – such a different vibe than yachats a mere 8 miles down the road, and where i sleep is in between the two, and i feel that way myself. then i went into Rays, the grocery store, more down to earth, with much lower prices, and friendly service all around; they were cooking chicken in the deli, and put aside a piece for me upon my return. and it is the genuine kindness of the place i will remember – though i know it can hold back as well.

I walk through the town one last time before heading back to camp – i feel sad, nothing here for me, as i go through this small town. I walk on back, the tide’s coming in, so i walk down the highway a bit, a half a mile to where i can cut down to the open beach again. The miles seem longer going this way, the return to my place a more arduous journey. The day had warmed up and i am hot and feel sweat before i remove a layer, and i am carrying a few extra pounds of food. My legs feel heavy and i am hungry for i did not eat in town – i can wait i say until i get back to camp. I walk houses in view, but the small headland is not the one i thought – still one more to go, and i want to sit and rest on one of the few logs. a group is when i left them, playing croquet or something similar, a few hours before, seeming the same and i think all that has passed through me in the few hours since i came the other way. I am almost there – my feet are hot – and i take off my boots and walk barefoot in the sand – and how much freer i feel and a patch of blue grows in the sky. I walk across the parking lot, the uneven concrete felt upon my bare feet.

At times i dream of cities or larger small towns – but what am i to do and how am i to survive there? I think of the kids i saw by the bench where i smoked on my way out of waldport – young with huge sleeping bags and ragtag gear making their way on down the coast. And how it is a kinder, gentler life out here. And i remember that roadtrip with robert, after we left this place for i just had to get out, hiding away in a motel room feeling like i was shrinking everyday – a trip to the inner lands – the valleys of california, arizona, new mexico and beyond, with some such hard-scrabble trailer small towns – beaten down with a harsher glare – that we passed though, and at times it seemed not quick enough – and now as i type i remember there was kindness there too, at least in many places. and in waldport too are the posters “meth kills” and the vibe of the kids who hang out behind the store. But here the strange health food/pet food store has expanded and moved across the street – not better times but cheaper rent so i was told as the storefront where it once was sits vacant – just up a bit from the drive through espresso stand.

I come back to camp and talk to a new arrival – a guy on a bike riding north against the winds; a circle around the country he hopes, started in Florida a year ago – the winter spent in colorado. he goes off to scavage free firewood. The kids who were here yesterday have also stayed and have a tinny radio with hard rock on low volume that sounds like it comes from headphones that bleed. i get agitated, and then i say to myself, this is all our place too and moments later go on over and talk to them. she has gone off, but i ask him where their journey goes – on foot as well and i am curious – started in Astoria a few days ago – packs too heavy – his almost 100 pounds, and walk and hitch as well – hope to make it to Maine, may take a couple of years with the winter down south – texas or so where family is – day four of the trip now and hopes are high. I think of my old dreams of crisscrossing the country that way – dreams that sometimes come to mind until i put on my pack and stand on the road and then long for a place to stay. Sun comes out and i take a nap as showers are being cleaned – and i forget the radio and when i get up it is off as it is for rest of the day.

It is another day and the sky is grey once again after the brief respite of yesterday’s late afternoon sun. And this is familiar – too familiar as the greyness seeps into me. The robins still sing so why not i?

But coming back to familiarity, that comfort we crave, the knowing of where one may stop, find a bathroom or a bite to eat. but there is the other side too, both the joys and the sorrows that come back in – and all is simultaneously as one remembers and so different too – not just the fact that a store has moved, or the sunset is different each day, but of that landscape inside, brought back in time, yet incorporating, however buried, all that has happened in between – but it takes time for that in between to arise again, because for a moment, be it a short or long one, one is thrust back into time, into the place that one was.

The feeling of loneliness arises again today – a feeling that has been gnawing at me out here on this coast – or maybe everywhere i go.
The wind blows down and the highway – the 101 – runs north to south, nestled between the waters and this narrow strip of land – movement – up, down, passing through. I think there is a reason why this land is so sparsely populated and it feels lonely here – and maybe that is what i have felt before. Yes the calm and the beauty draw me in, but then that loneliness seeps in – and maybe that is why people reach out. Or become hunkered down under the skies when they cry endlessly, bracing against the winds.

And once again i feel the need to rejoin the rest of humanity – the slowness enters in and i want to reach out and dance with others – to step out of this cocoon i have wrapped myself in. To engage in life, but what does that mean? and just how to connect – for here i meet others with stories, those which i feel inside. And i wonder what is the me – the i – who is she – already i forget that person who existed but a week ago in eugene and i wonder why she thought as she did – but veils have already been draped, and events and peoples and memories have been revisited so many times, the story line altering a bit each time, and i wonder what was, what was merely part of the script i wrote, and what is now just part of the story i write. but as i reflect back, to then and so many other times since i have last been here, i remember the people, the teachers in life, and all i had to learn and give – and i did not always see the lessons, and my face in the mirror, and did not see what i gave or failed to give in return as well. and i thank those teachers – the people passing through – for though nature and solitude have taught me well, and given a quiet to incorporate lessons from more hectic times, it is from one another we learn and grow.

Roads lead inland, over the mountains to another valley more unknown to me, and over more mountains to a world beyond. and what is it that holds me back – has my life become stuck upon the groove, to take one of them, or is it fear or the knowing that i cannot run away from the lessons i have to learn. It is cool and damp and i must soon pack up my tent and venture on up the road – when will i turn to join the dance of life once again.

The sun came out as i packed up camp and i remembered the joys off this place. earlier i remembered a time a few years back taking down a soggy tent with one glove on and wondering where the second had gone. i was late – almost noon as i prepared to leave, and the south tempted me once again – and i remember the last time here – the man walking with his cat and how the sky turned to blue and i decided to walk down that way. And the temptation arose but it was late in the day – and it made me wonder (again) if i came out to florence this time hoping for a miracle, a rescue of sorts, as i had been “rescued” last time – the solo journey south aborted there, and i stood on the road not wanting to go to Eugene. He appeared and the story has unfolded and i am back here alone, coming out from eugene as i had on my first camping trip to this coast.

but as i stepped on the lonely road to wait for the bus, i felt lonely again. and the sun is out and the wind is up and i send this from the library in waldport – on monday and there is wifi. and i head up to newport for a day or two and another chapter to be written.

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Ocean Beach Today

The ocean caressed me today. Last time i was here it told me to go away, grumbling. And that’s the way it is, pulling forth and pushing me away. My temperamental relationship with The Pacific – the way it has been for years. i came here today, to Ocean Beach, remembering the times the ocean warned my away telling me i must go and thus was pleasantly surprised by the sweet voice i heard. The tide was coming in as was the fog rolls in gently, obscuring the hills, but the sun keeps on pushing through. And as i walk along, stand, and sit in this place, i slowly become alive, feel the ions tingling in me. But that is today – tomorrow will be different – for though i come to the same locale its moods change all the time. I have felt elated and i have felt deflated here many a time, for the ocean and all around is in flux. As am i.

I have been writing elsewhere about my times through this city over the years and this period of my life, and i cannot really remember the person who i was when i started this journey. As i sat on the beach today i had trouble imagining the person who sat here a month ago. But i know that when i sat here then, i had small memories of when i had been here before that i had long forgotten about. Although i drink the same coffee from the same cafe and often sit on the same bluff, like the ocean with its tides and moods, i am constantly being transformed. then again, though the label is the same, the coffee is different each time (you can’t drink the same cup twice) and even the dune i sit on has been transformed by the wind.

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