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Archive for the ‘Coast’ Category

clouds and reflections (1 of 1)What is it about the beach? Why does a feeling of peace seep into my entire being as I walk along the shore, coat zipped up against the wind?

gull over waves (1 of 1)

Perhaps it is the pounding of the surf, like the heartbeat of the ocean, secure and constant. Perhaps the open sands stretching out before me, fresh and clean from the outgoing tide. Or the calls of the soaring gulls echoing over my head. Or even the clouds, constantly changing and moving, giving a new perspective with each passing moment. Perhaps it is all of these with a little added magic that draws me in and fills me with joy.

dark beach clouds (1 of 1)My husband and I spent a couple of days at the beach recently, celebrating 40 years of marriage. Our hotel room overlooked the ocean, so its steady beat was ever-present. We were fortunate to have sunshine for a good portion of the visit and enjoyed several walks on the beach. Of course, beach weather can be fickle, and we did get caught in one downpour, thankful we had worn our raincoats when we ventured out into what was then sunshine and mostly clear skies.

bird tracks on beach (1 of 1)The shore has so many aspects, from the vastness of the ocean to the tiny details of pebbles and bird prints in the sand. It opens my eyes to wonder and my soul to God. Nature’s beauty is easy to see, but God’s glory is all around us, even in the most unlikely places—in the city, at work, in our everyday lives. Even in those bundles of contradiction we call people. I pray I can keep my eyes and soul open, wherever I find myself.people walking by water (1 of 1)

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Campsite at Kalaloch Campground Our first camping trip of the year—and extra-special because our son who lives in Japan would be coming. In fact, it was planned especially for him. We had done a lot of camping and hiking when he was young, taking two-week camping trips every September (one of the advantages of homeschooling) to places like British Columbia, the California redwoods, Yellowstone Park, and a wide range of sites in Oregon and Washington. He had also camped a lot in Boy Scouts. But now, with trips home mainly taking place around Christmas, he missed spending time in the great outdoors.False Lily-of-the-Valley

We did a lot of planning, trying to find a place that would be dry in May, a bit of a challenge in the Pacific Northwest. However, as the time drew near, forecasts were mostly positive, so we set our sights on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Kalaloch Campground—right on the Pacific Ocean—sounded good for our first stop, once we learned how to pronounce it (Kah-lay-lock). And it turned out to be a good choice.

Vine Maple, KalalochWe pulled into the campground mid-afternoon Saturday, relieved to find many campsites still open (First come, first served can be scary at a popular campground.). The beachside places were all filled, but we found a lovely, large site with plenty of room for the trailer and a tent for our son and a local friend who had come along. Lots of privacy and a Middle Earth feel to it. Surely elves lurked nearby. Sunshine filtered through twisting, mossy branches onto ferns and wildflowers as we set up our camp. A fresh sea breeze blew enticingly, and a feeling of peace settled into my soul.Kalaloch Beach

Soon we were down on the beach, drawn by the surf’s roar. The wind blew us along the rock-strewn, sandy beach, causing us to zip up sweatshirts and pull up hoods, despite the sunshine. We walked and we talked and we enjoyed being out in nature, away from computers and work and all those other things that crowd our lives. Just the four of us and the mighty ocean. We admired agates, watched gulls glide by overhead, noted the scraggly pines above the beach, all bent in the same direction.

Gulls and bent trees, KalalochThe ocean is so big, its motion ever-changing yet ever the same. I feel connected to eternity by the ocean, a tiny part of something great and wonderful. To share that with a son I rarely get to see was the best Mother’s Day gift possible.Sunset, Kalaloch Beach

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Newport, Oregon, Nye Beach We sit in the comfy chairs on the third floor of the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, gazing out at the gray sky and the rolling white caps. It’s our 36th anniversary, and we came to celebrate in this wonderful book-filled hotel. But my mouth hurts from the tooth that had to be extracted yesterday, and husband is coughing from the cold he caught recently. In our younger days, this might have ruined our special day.Sylvia Beach Hotel

However 36 years give one a little perspective. Seagulls soar past the windows, pushed by the wind. The sun peeks out briefly to light up the waves. Husband sketches a beach scene; I write these words. The ocean beats a constant rhythm into our souls. We are at peace.

Life needn’t be perfect to be good. So many times our expectations prevent us from enjoying the blessings we receive. We want the perfect job, the perfect wedding, the perfect spouse, house, and kids. But life has more glitches than a new computer system, and perfection is a rare commodity here on earth.

Newport, OR beach with gullsMy husband’s uncle had a stroke. While Uncle John partially recovered, he remained weak on one side and had difficulty speaking. A former outdoorsman, he took up painting with his good hand. He made the most of what he had. And whenever he was asked how he was—or many other questions for that matter—his answer was always “Good enough.”

And what’s so wrong with “good enough?” We all have things that keep our lives from being perfect—whether health issues, money problems, disagreements with family or neighbors, job hassles, whatever. We can spend our days bemoaning our problems, or we can accept what we are given and make the most of it. We can enjoy the blessings we are given.dark clouds at beach

The waves keep pounding onto the sand, an ever-changing, but ever-the-same pattern. Dark clouds promise rain. We sit side-by-side, staring out the window, sharing the beauty of the moment. Thirty-six years. Years filled with smiles and tears, joys and frustrations. Not perfect years, but definitely “good enough.”

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Newport, Oregon beach rocks I love all sorts of walks on the beach: romantic strolls with my husband, energetic hikes to a distant jetty or dune, meandering ambles with a new friend. When our kids were small, I loved watching them as they scrambled around, picking up every shell and turning over every stone in search of something wonderful. However, introvert that I am, nothing quite beats being alone on the beach with a camera.Footprints on the beach, Newport, Oregon

Newport, Oregon: ocean and cloudsEarly morning is the best time; sunset is great, too, if the colors are bright. Any time at all is still nice. Today it was morning: a still morning early enough that the breeze had not yet begun, when the sun rose brightly over the hills, and the freshly washed sand pulled me toward it with magnetic force. After a lovely rest in the Emily Dickinson room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, I was ready.Newport, Oregon: rocks and buildings in mist

Being alone brings a certain freedom. I can sing praise songs aloud with the pounding of the surf both my background music and my disguise. I can stop to watch a bird circling above or stand and drink in the peacefulness of the ocean as long as I want, with no worries that someone else may wish to move on. I can turn aside for whatever catches my eye—a cloud formation, a small pool’s reflection, a tiny shell, or even just the pattern left in the sand by the rushing waves and beating wind. I can take a hundred pictures, trying to capture the essence of the scene, the special beauty of that particular moment.

Newport, Oregon sand patternsFinally I must wander back to join the others, to eat breakfast, to plan our day. But those moments alone on the beach with my camera have given me images to share, as well as a peace inside that is all my own.

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Ocean Park, WA--pine trail “Pine Shore Trail” the sign read. I saw it as I walked down from the conference center in Ocean Park, Washington. The trail veered off from the wide path that led straight to the beach. Where did it go? I had to find out, so I followed the sandy track into the woods, through gnarled beach pines and huckleberry bushes into a land of wonder.mossy trail, Ocean Park

Sunshine stretched long fingers through the trees, lighting up the soft green moss that began to take over the trail. Pines spread twisting limbs overhead, making shadow patterns on the ground. The trail meandered through the woods, sometimes narrowing to so indistinct a thread that I feared I might lose it. But then it would widen again, and I would continue on, eager to see what lay around the next bend.

Pine Shore TrailThe shining green and gray wood felt like something straight out of Middle Earth. I trod lightly on the spongy ground, half-expecting to see wood elves peeking out from behind the trees or a sleeping dragon bedded down in the moss. I followed the path until it disappeared into a grassy lake of water, left from previous rainstorms. Then I wandered a bit through the woods and finally back to the main trail. I left the magic land behind, but, like Merry and Pippin in Fangorn Forest, I grew just a bit younger after drinking in the mossy wonder of that place.Light through the pines

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Ocean Park dawnThe sky was turning from black to deep blue when I stepped outside the retreat center where I was blessed to spend time with a couple dozen of the nicest writers I know. The moon’s brightness faded as day softly arrived.Ocean Park dawn

Pastel pinks and oranges tinged the eastern sky as I padded down the sandy trail to the beach. The sky above turned pale blue. Past the trees and the beach grass, the ocean pounded out its rhythm while gulls flew overhead and a flock of sandpipers skittered away at my approach.

Ocean Park, WAColor rose higher in the sky and spread far past the eastern edges. Waves and wet sand reflected the dawn. The empty beach lay silent before the sea, whose vastness breathed peace into my soul.

I stepped where many had walked before, and yet the freshly washed sand held no trace of their presence. It spread before me in wavy patterns, new and untouched, awaiting my footprints. I prayed that the marks I left behind would be true and my path straight.

Morning arrived in beauty. I greeted it with joy and songs of praise.  Ocean dawn

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I love the visiting the beach—walking on the smooth, wet sand, my troubles drowned out by the roaring of the ocean and the crashing of waves upon the sand. I love the way the sky reflects in the pools of water left behind at low tide. I love looking for treasures stranded on the shore—shiny agates or the rare whole sand dollar. And I love watching the clouds journey across the sky, so full of majesty.

Clouds are great to watch anywhere, but they always seem more impressive at the beach. Perhaps that’s because the sky grows wider at the beach, with no tall trees to break up the view. I imagine it must be similar on the open prairie, but we don’t have much in the way of prairies in my neck of the woods.

Beach clouds also have the advantage that they are constantly changing. Since their very existence begins with water evaporating from the ocean, it only makes sense that they would be extra-volatile so close to their birth. Like a tiny baby they exhibit many moods, from screaming tantrums when they pile up into thick, black stacks to happier moods when they drift in smiling cumulus patterns across that broad sky.

I love beach clouds—except when they open in downpours that drive me from the sand back indoors where I can only stand and watch from the window. Even then I know that if I just wait long enough, the rain will stop and the beach will once again invite me out to enjoy its beauty.

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