One day I will walk on a sandy beach and not stop to pick up a stone, stick or shell. I won’t stop to watch a scurrying crab, a little girl in pink with her bucket and big plans, foamy waves and other seaside distractions, but not today.
We’re having a lovely respite from driving at the Ester Lee motel in Central Oregon, in our 1940’s cottage with four big windows looking out over the coast. It rains off and on but the sun peaks out occasionally and the temperature is good.
The Oregon coast was a solitary, replenishing venture for most of my visits over the years. But now I’m happy to share it with Jim. We rest the first night content to watch the sunset from comfortable chairs near the large windows. Jim’s still a little gun shy regarding “rogue waves” after one unexpectedly tipped us over a year ago when we were weaker. His concern is magnified by a story of a man and baby who perished when they were taken out to sea by a “sneaker wave” so we wait for low tide.
The sun and the tide are out and we head for a walk wearing rubber knee boots to wade across small streams that cross our path. A tattooed man takes off his shoes and socks to wade across a cold stream. Somehow a block of sand remains intact on a rock in the stream.
Other people come out to enjoy the day—couples, kite-fliers, a runner, agate hunters and solo walkers. But the summer crowds are gratefully missing. “You’re smiling ear to ear!” Jim says. No matter how I feel, what I am worrying about, walks along the sandy beach cheer me up, and invigorate me. I’m using walking poles and we walk a long time as I fill my pockets with treasures.
A driftwood forest rises on our left, and a long four -trunk beached tree, its leafless bones half-buried in the sand lies next to the water. A mighty force of wind and water moved it to the shore. Its roots are intact so perhaps it tumbled off a cliff as it eroded. We turn back and Jim counts the rings in another tree thrown far up on the beach. It’s as tall as he is and about 100 years old.
He goes ahead while I follow, stopping to observe shells in a rock, pick up more treasures to stuff in my bulging pockets and study a coco cola pallet and a driftwood “dodo” bird.
Jim waits patiently for me knowing how happy I am right now. Back in our cottage, we take off our boots and I sink into a comfortable chair by the window and sort my treasures. There is no need to leave the cottage except to walk, we eat what we have, when we are hungry.
I am fascinated by small rocks with a shallow carved in them by the wind, water and sand. I like to find a stone to fit in the hollow. I first saw them by a vendor at the annual “Bad Girls of the North” art show in Anchorage. She grew up in northern California and Southern Oregon and found them during her walks. Ever since I look for them on my walks and find stones that fit.
We’re tired and it is good to watch the sun slowly set changing the colour of the sky and the water many times before darkness wins, but the sound of the sea still charms me as the tide comes in. Maybe tomorrow I won’t pick up a stick, a stone, or a shell.