My favorite beach spot in Oregon is Yachats, but Oceanside, on the northern coast, nestles nicely into its own hillside and bluff. Whether it is crouched in deep fog or illuminated by a dozen gradations of light, it asserts a homey beauty. As you round the last bend that descends to the ocean, it reels you in, saying: come. So we have, for twenty-five years and counting, walking the lazy length of beach, exploring the nooks and crannies between rocky protuberances. Out to sea a bit rise the Three Arch Rocks, housing for bird colonies. Our lengthy treasure hunts net milky-white, yellow and amber agates that are pleasing to eye and palm. Sometimes we sit on the driftwood and admire surfers as they patiently wait for a good wave. Climbing the huge rocks are a standard bit of exericse. There is a tunnel that cuts through the headland that we like to follow to another side of the beach. This visit, I carefully navigated water-covered rocks in the near-darkness until I reached the end. I watched from the opening as the tide surged forward and the sky brightened, the rain eased. It was as if a small doorway opened to yet another heavenly place.
We have stayed at both condos and a place that perches high atop the headland. This time we decided to finally try small motel that sits closer to the sea, right in the village. It offered an efficiency apartment-style room, which meant we could dine in, as we prefer. We made reservations in late August for mid-October, knowing the weather could turn from carefree to dour and chilly, plain ole wet. That is just one more mood of the coast that we love.
And it did just that: rained and rained. From misty breezes to downpours that drummed against the roof and swept across the balcony of the room, the rain dominated day and night. Marc traversed the beach alone the first morning as I slept luxuriously late. He returned thoroughly saturated from sea and rain. “Just a little damp,” he smiled, although pants and jacket were draped, dripping, in front of an electric wall heater. He showed me a handful of rocks he rescued from the beach. After a late brunch, we ventured out on a short shopping jaunt, admiring the slick red- and yellow-leafed trees among the conifers, the cows, horses and deer unperturbed by the weather. We returned to our spot in the afternoon, glad to be back.
We refilled our coffee mugs and settled down on the couch with sandwiches. For a time neither of us spoke much. The water drilled the roof and battered the windows; the wind swept across the sea. The tide rolled in, then gradually retreated. We watched from the warm quietude. Shadows were nearly indiscernable; the last fingers of light pulled back quickly.
The soothing rainy rhythms crowded out stray thoughts, our feet touching, our heads bent over reading materials. Marc worked on Sudoku puzzles, then read a history of the Cascades, a book he always seemed to take on trips. I poured over the latest Smithsonian magazine, although four other books lay nearby. It’s our belief that one can never pack too many reading materials.
As we read on, we sporadically shared what we found amusing or intriguing, tidbits of fact and myth, a small feasting on ideas. We discussed beauty in a variety of forms and functions, from mathematics to NASA’s Hi-C telescopic images of the Sun’s corona and the curious study of pulchronomics, or the connection between beauty and economics. We laughed over “pulchritudinous”, as it seems such an unpleasant word to refer to beauty. Brain function was brought up as I read to Marc about neuroscience chiming in on how the brain processes art. A poem was offered.
Time vanished as the light diminished. The worries of work and home faded. We were afloat in a world of thought, the pleasures of easy discourse, with the music of rainfall imbuing the night with all that was good.
We turned the lamps on and travelled to the African Republic forest to learn about western lowland gorillas. He shared with me about the Cascade Mountains insects and plants, trees and explorers. That led to random sharing on nature, hiking, health, our gratitude. I arrived at the topic of books and book reviews, a couple of which I read aloud, then wondered over.
“This book talks about the electricity it requires to flex a muscle or smell a flower. It’s all about charged particles moving across cell membranes. I bet we glow a lot more than we realize. Probably send off charges as we breathe, even. And this one is about dance in the ordinary, daily world, a photography book of dancers doing fabulous things. Moving for the joy of it…Well, none of this planet and the life on it is very ordinary, is it? Can I come up with a new way to write about this?”
Marc said, “Why don’t we do this more often at home? Just sit for hours and read and talk?”
We determined to be more attentive to one another and to what matters most, then circled back to silence. One short afternoon and early evening had allowed us the chance to do nothing but think, imagine, share ideas and wonder. We smiled at each other from our respective ends of the couch, toe-to-toe, stilled by abiding affection and contentment.
Cool rain swayed and fell outside our window; the ocean drew back and gathered her powers and again flushed the sands. The wind came up and fell like a swirling veil upon rooftops. Gulls lined up on the balcony railing as an autumn horizon melded with white-crested waves. The gentle drumming of October rain spoke in secret ways– words can sometimes only say so much.