Distance and TIme
The Needles · Cannon Beach · Oregon · USA
A parting blue-hour image from an all-too-brief day spent rekindling my love for the Oregon Coast, where my passion for the natural world began as a youth. I remember us and our family friends pitching tents on consecutive campground lots, celebrating the day I was old enough for my dad to trust me with a mallet and stake not to wield them with quasi-criminal mischief. Tents pitched, the kids would hop on our bikes and hit the trails, and I remember one harrowing hairpin turn at the end of a downhill lakeside stretch that we had to successfully negotiate or we’d end up in the drink. At some point in the day we’d all find our way to the beach, children and parents alike, and we'd wander the shores and squeal with feigned terror when an occasional rogue wave splashed us higher up on our bodies than we'd anticipated. And once we more or less (though usually less) acclimated ourselves to the chilling temps, we'd wade into the waist-high waters and splash about. I remember one frightening occasion when Mother Nature indifferently reminded us of her untamed ways, pulling my best friend Sam out to sea when he somehow became entrained in the undertow. After a frightening few minutes (though I'm sure it felt like much, much longer), I believe it was his father that managed to rescue him from the turbulent waters, minus one flip-flop and perhaps a good measure of pride. We all learned then: respect, then fun, was always the order of business out here.
Lesson learned, we carried on with our merry ways, building sand castles, collecting seashells, wielding long stipes of washed-up kelp like bolo whips, and calling out stranded jellyfish to the others like we were a band of brothers navigating a minefield. On other occasions the dads and older siblings would march down the jetties to find the perfect spot to launch their fishing poles, and us younger kids would clamber over the boulders trying to balance our efforts to satisfy our insatiable curiosities (Hey, there’s a baby crab! Oh look, a starfish!) with the task of keeping up with the elders. As the day grew long and chilly we'd head back to the campground and prepare the day's catch for dinner, supplemented by roasted corn on the cob, hot dogs, delicious marinated chicken, and jasmine rice...always jasmine rice.
We'd huddle around the campfire as the dark of night descended, roasting marshmallows and maybe digging into dinner's leftovers if our returning appetites so exhorted us. With much reluctance and protest we’d eventually turn in for the night, cozy-warm in our sleeping bags, and awaken to twittering birdsong and the deep bone-chilling cold of a typical coastal morning. Then we’d prepare breakfast and do it all over again, forging memories that now are more a rumpled tapestry of indistinct but comfortingly happy moods and feelings than a linear narrative of distinct experiences. Back then, you kind of stepped into one day and you would seamlessly end up in the next...and the next, and the next, and the next...and you were lulled into believing then that those days would never end. And then before you really knew it, they did, separated from today by distance and time.
But perhaps in another way of looking at it, these days are just beginning.