I listen to the waves crash just outside our oceanside retreat, and I feel as if I have come home. I have come home to the Oregon Coast, and feel the familiar catch of my breath and flutter in my stomach. My best friend brings me here at least once a year, indulging in my longing to see the mist on the mountains, rushing by at a frenzied pace on its way to who-knows-where, and patiently waits as I keep early hours so I can sneak out the sliding door, plaid keds and medium warmth jacket on, and gallop, pell-mell, to the place of whitecaps and frothy foam while the waves scramble inland, always reaching, reaching as far as the tide allows.
The first sight of the ocean, peeking out through the majestic, emerald trees, brings a grin to my face, as if it is the first time here. I reason that it IS my first time. It is my first time seeing this particular water, and it will be my first time seeing this particular set of waves, and shells, and people. I bring down the window of the car and take a deep lungful of sea air, letting the breeze wash over my body. It is a joy I look forward to over and over again.
I become impatient as Jen looks for parking. LET’S JUST PARK HERE…NO HERE. HOW BOUT HERE? JUST PARRRRKKK!!!! And then…. A spot. A SPOT!!! She pulls in, and I’m off like a shot. Only after I have looked and walked and picked up shells does she get a respite. I pull her along, no matter the weather. Raining? Grab a jacket. Windy? We will get used to it. Just COME ON, ALREADY!
She let’s me be ridiculous.
Like a mix between a gleeful child and a foreign tourist, just here for the day, I have to see it all. I wave her over, saying, “Look at this. Is this one an agate?” To which she says, “Nope. Just a cool rock. Again.” I say, “Look at that mist! Think it will go away?” To which she sighs slightly, “Probably in the afternoon, remember?” Last time I was here, I cajoled her into walking with me along the beach just a bit too long for the weather to cooperate, and we ended up in a deluge, the wind and rain whipping our entire bodies, coming at us horizontally. It felt like sand stinging our our faces, our feet, our entire bodies, and I was still grinning as we ran back up the coast to our car.
She lost her grin on the way, somewhere.
This morning I woke up early. I cracked open the sliding door, first thing, to hear the morning song of waves and breeze. And mist greeted me with a conspiratorial air. LET’S GET YOU SHROUDED, it seemed to say. LET’S GIVE YOU THIS PLACE ALL TO YOURSELF. I complied. I stepped out onto the grass, down the stairs, and got lost.
The building disappeared. Down The Beach disappeared. Up This Way disappeared. There was only the stretch of sand that led me to the water. And down I went. The tide was out. Way out. I hiked around driftwood and rippled, dimpled sand, shaped by the night breeze. I followed a rivulet of water, eeking its way to find the main body of water after getting trapped in a shallow gully. Yard by yard, the sand turned pristine, as if no foot had ever tread this beach before. This morning, it was true. I was the only one around to enjoy the gift of beauty this morning. It was just for me.
I gazed at the waves, as I always do, with the idea that if I just noticed long enough, a pattern would emerge. One crash, two crashes, three, four, five… then a lull where the water leaps forward further than before, washing over my feet and ankles before I can get away. I never get the pattern down. I wouldn’t want to. It gives me a reason to reflect and enjoy.
Of course I take pictures. Of course it does nothing to capture the reality. I sigh. And the mist blows away. Just like that. The anonymity is gone and things materialize. Like the village of BRIGADOON, people, dogs, buildings, sandcastles in the making… they just appear like nothing has happened. Except that the sun is out now, and as I meander back to check on Jen, people poke their heads out of their doorways. With their cups of coffee, in twos and threes, they get ready for their day of flying kites and herding kids because the mist is gone. It is their time now.
I let them have it. I walk inside.