Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Day In The Life on the coast...
...and I'll tell ya, it's one heckuva way to pass the time!

I've always thought of the definition of "Life" as "the ability to pass time constructively". And if we can't do that, we're not much different from those who are incarcerated for the rest of their lives in the worst holes-in-the-wall imaginable. In short, you don't necessarily have to be in prison to do a "life sentence"...you can be imprisoned by any number of things, and before you know it, the years have flown by and all of a sudden, you're old. That's how I was, slaving away in the minimum-wage sub-strata of society, where I had to fight, kick and scratch for that extra dollar or two. I remember well, how that feels. When I drove cab, I'd get off work at 5pm after doing a 12-hour shift fighting traffic (and customers) (and a wise-ass dispatcher) all day long...and in the summer, after work was done, I'd get myself a couple of cheap hamburgers and head down to the City Park...I needed space, I needed release, I needed to slow down and get back to me. Aaaaah.

I have since moved to the Oregon Coast, and I haven't regretted one single solitary minute. Maybe it's true that our pasts have turned out the way they have, because we were being prepared for the future; in short, all that came before points us in the direction we are going. Personally speaking, I'm not one for going to visit at someone's house. I don't really have any use for noisy, anarchic gatherings of any kind; I don't really like getting to know people all that well; I like people, but in order for me to grab the solitude I need, even my best friends I've pretty-much held at arm's length. My most pleasurable times are when I have no plan...I wander here, wander there, and sometimes find myself doing nothing at all. I'm not at the place where I have to work anymore, but I can justify that in my own mind by thinking, "all the things I had to go through to get here".

So here in Oregon, I am living the way I've described above. And, strangely, I feel more at home because I don't know a lot of people. I still socialize down here, but since no one knows me, I don't have to worry about anyone coming over unnanounced, as friends are prone to do; I can walk about in a park, or in a store, and since I don't know anyone, there's no one to avoid or walk a wide circle around (and I'm sure we all know that feeling). No, I'm no hermit caveman; I'll talk to the guy who sits outside the local K-mart with his little hot-dog cart; I'll talk to waitresses in the local restaurants; I'll see people at the bar where I go to jam sessions; I'll run into people walking their dogs on the beach (and of course, I'll pet their dogs); I suppose you could think of my life as a sort of big computer firewall...it only lets in the things that are safe, and puts the kibosh on things which can corrupt the environment.

And, down here in Oregon, I find I'm doing some things differently. For starters, it's not important for me to read the newspaper every day anymore. It's not important for me to get out of the house as soon as I get up; for some reason, the place I live in is more comfortable to just "be" in...so, I'll feed the parakeets, and then I'll have breakfast with the birds. I find I'm not as much of a newshound as I once was. I rarely watch local or national newscasts, and I hardly ever go shopping for stuff I don't eat anymore. I used to go to the 2nd hand stores, junk shops and pawn shops; I just don't feel the need to do that stuff, at least not these days. For some reason, if I decide to just stay home, not speak to anyone, not go anywhere or not buy anything, it doesn't matter. And, that's what I did yesterday...I just stayed inside as the rain fell, I puttered around the house and I watched my parakeets. Maybe I'm just getting old and weird, I don't know, but I'm just letting myself poke along the path of life.

About every other day, I do feel the need to be elsewhere. As the crow flies, the ocean is only a couple of miles away; you'd think I'd want to go to the ocean every day, but that is not the case. Since I am so close to it, I figure that it'll be there when I want it. Which fits in conveniently with how the weather is around here, because one day, a storm will blow in, it'll rain, then the next day, that storm will blow away and it'll be clear until the next storm arrives, and so on and so forth. Today was a clear day, and it was such a nice day that I decided to bypass the beach where I normally go (I did go there later in the day), but instead, I went to one of the nearby state parks. Those are such special places that I don't go to them every day. That way when I go, it's something special, and today it was.

Think of how you react to a big fireworks display...you know that something's going to happen, but you really don't know 'what' until you see it actually occur. That's the way it is watching ocean waves when they crash upon the rocks. And that's what I did today. I let nature put on a show for me. And it's free. Well, free until the state park gets a new fee machine; the old one was vandalized, so everyone gets in for free until the new moneygrabber arrives. The park I went to consists of cliffs, averaging 60 to 100 feet above the ocean. From that elevation one can see out almost 20 miles. And that's a lot of water out there. (You must remember I was landlocked for decades, so I still marvel at the ocean. And probably always will.) And today, in the middle of FEBRUARY, the sun was WARM. And the wind was blowing. And the waves were ultra-choppy; so choppy that watercraft under 26 feet were prohibited from crossing the bar into the nearby harbor (or so said the radio frequency that relates nothing but water conditions). Choppy indeed...

In previous years, when I came down here in the summer or fall, people who lived here would tell me that in order to see spectacular waves, I had to come down here during the winter, and were they ever right! I have seen waves so high this winter, that once, while watching a fishing boat leave the harbor, it 'crossed the bar', and the waves were so high that when the boat was at the bottom of a wave, I COULDN'T SEE IT until it got back to the top of a wave. (A "bar" is an informal term which describes the entrance to a bay; the waves concentrate themselves in the narrow bar, which makes entering or leaving the bay one of the more hazardous aspects of ocean travel. I had heard someone use the term "bar" and one of the fishermen here provided me with that information.)

So anyway, at the state park I went to, I stood on an ocean cliff, probably 75 to 100 feet high. At the foot of the cliffs, large rocks jut up from the ocean bottom; those are the rocks that the eternal pounding of the waves haven't worn away after centuries of violent exposure. Geologic time is a slow thing, after all. When you think of your lifetime in comparision with all eternity, remember that the waves will continue to smash into the shore long after we're but a memory. And I watched those huge waves crash into the rocks at the bottom of the cliff, and I could actually FEEL the waves pound the shore, and when they struck the rocks, they released ocean spray into the air; I was standing 75 feet above sea level, and the spray would oftentimes soar 20 or 30 feet ABOVE me. And that will never cease to amaze me. BOOM! The waves would SMACK the shore with a deep, pervasive WHUMP!, and the water would SHOOT up into the sky. And seeing those waves STOPPED me in my tracks. Someone long ago had the foresight to put a couple of benches on the cliff, and I sat there mesmerized. For HOURS. The power of the ocean. Amazing. But since a picture is worth a thousand words...perhaps instead of typing all of this, I should have just posted the photo below...



Mesmerizing. Just absolutely mesmerizing.

5 Comments:

Blogger raymond pert said...

awesome picture.
perfect description of freedom, doing what you want when you want and enjoying solitude.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Kick Shoe said...

I'm so glad you're happy. I can smell the ocean now.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Ah, Shore Acres! What a great place. Got married there, and never got over the grandeur of the formal gardens mixed with the majestic power of the surf. When I went there [in the last century], there were old tennis courts from the estate, just north of the viewpoint. They were getting eaten up by major storms . . . next high wind storm, go to the end of the road, at Cape Arago and stand on the wall, leaning into the wind.

1:14 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Thanks, Mr. Pert (I know who you REALLY are...sometimes that's what's wrong with the human race...not enough solitude. Me, I can do without all the clamor.

Cathy dear, thank you very much. Every time I go to the ocean, I think, "THAT'S why I came here". I don't know if I fit the textbook definition of "happy", but I'm where I want to be. That much I know.

Mike, hi there. I went to Cape Arago on Christmas Eve; not only were the winds harsh, it was raining...and the drops were coming down SIDEWAYS. If I lean into the wind, at that little rocky-bench area at Arago, I'll lose my hat. Still, it sounds like something I'd like to try. The old tennis courts are still there, not eroded away yet, although the northwest corner of the court is poking thru the soil where the cliff is. First time I ever saw "Shore Acres Tennis Courts" back in 2001, I wondered, "what's THIS all about?" What an area this is. It sounds like you need to re-visit this neck of the woods. Thsnkd for stopping by my humble little blog.

1:36 AM  
Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

You're so right. The photo says it all...

3:27 PM  

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