Archive for the ‘Autumn in Oysterville’ Category

I’d rather be lost on Stackpole Road.

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Yesterday, while Nyel was mostly flat on his back and I was mostly flat on my backside, he mostly dozed and I mostly wrote.  But in the wakeful moments, we talked a bit about that Sunday drive we took a few days back.  And about getting ‘sorta lost’ in the northern wilderness of Ocean Park.

“Weren’t we on Stackpole Road for a while?” I asked.  “You know, that other, fake Stackpole Road?  The one that dead-ends and then starts again for real across from Bud Goulter’s place on Oysterville Road?”

“Yep,” said the man of few words.

It’s one of the many strange things about the roads on the Peninsula.  As every Oysterville schoolboy used to know, Stackpole Road was named after Isaac Clark’s, boat, the Dr Stackpole.  (If anyone knows who Dr. Stackpole was, do tell!)

Isaac Alonzo Clark, co-founder of Oysterville with R.H. Espy, platted the bayside village and became its first storekeeper.  He was also an oysterman but, according to his cohorts, a rather timid boatman.  When a storm was brewing out on the bay, he often put in at a protected cove near Leadbetter Point.  As the other plungers headed homeward they would see Clark’s boat, Dr. Stackpole, hunkered down for the duration.  The cove is still called “Stackpole Harbor.” Presumably, the name for the road evolved from that.

Isaac Alonzo Clark

At first, the road was just a sandy cart track that led to the north end of the Peninsula.  Even when I was a girl, we locals just called it “the road to the Point.”  Since it seemed to begin at Oysterville Road, it never occurred to me that there might be another piece of it in Ocean Park – nearly five miles to the south.  The only connection to Stackpole Harbor that I can think of is that Isaac Clark also platted much of Ocean Park for the Methodist Episcopal Church of Portland. (They say he got tired of the boom-town, party! party! party! atmosphere here in Oysterville.

I don’t know whether there are still other pieces of Stackpole Road.  When we were ‘sorta lost’ out there in the denizens of Ocean Park, I wished we had kept one of those spiffy maps of the Peninsula that we used to sell at the Bookvendor.  (I think they were made by a man named Love who worked upstairs for David Jensen.)  When I have time, maybe I’ll look at map sifter online.  Meanwhile, as interesting as all this is for passing the time at the hospital… I think I’d rather be out there lost on Stackpole Road again!

A Sunday Afternoon Drive

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Bay Farm Island Road

The answer to feeling housebound on a beautiful Sunday in October, Nyel said, was to take a drive!  So yesterday after lunch, off we went.  No destination in mind – just getting out to enjoy the day.

I remember that when I was a small child “Sunday Drives” were de rigueur.  That was before World War II – before rationing and the moratorium on gasoline and tires made such luxuries impossible.  I think the entire ‘Sunday Drive’ phenomena must have been a holdover from the days when having an “automobile machine” as my grandmother called them, was still an indulgence of the first order.

In Surfside

On one of our Sunday Drives, I remember getting my first puppy – way out in Hayward.  A full 21 miles away from Alameda where we lived.  It was an all-afternoon excursion.  At least it remains so in my memory.  Sometimes we just drove out to Bay Farm Island – which isn’t an island at all, but I didn’t know that then.  It was far distant in the country in my memory – all farms and cows and unpaved roads.  In reality, it was about two-and-a-half miles from where we lived on Versailles Avenue.  I remember going out there to choose a pumpkin for a Jack-o-lantern once; it must have been about this time of year.

Our drive yesterday took us first out to Surfside and up to the Great Day Café.  It was open but we chose not to go in, Nyel’s stamina not being up to snuff.  Then we headed south, drove by the golf course, got sorta lost in the maze of Surfside South/Ocean Park? North, and then decided to drive toward Ilwaco to check out the cranberry harvest.  Our timing was definitely off – no activity on any of the farms we passed except for one, on Cranberry Road, where a lone worker was driving a big beater around a flooded bog.

Cranberry Bog

Home again after an hour or so of driving around – rubber-necking just like tourists.  We didn’t come home with a puppy or even a pumpkin.  And, though I hate to admit it, we passed up a couple of opportunities to buy fresh cranberries.  Somehow, that meant planning – maybe for Thanksgiving Dinner – and we were more in the one-day-at-a-time mode.  Actually, one afternoon at a time.  One lovely Sunday Afternoon Drive!

The Changing Seasons

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Homeward Bound

In Oysterville, seasons often morph from one to another without much notice – maybe because rain is commonplace all year long and we just drip from Autumn to Winter and right on through Spring into Summer and Autumn again.  Sometimes, the only obvious difference is the warming or cooling of the temperature.

Yesterday, though, when I saw Tucker hauling the last Laser home from the bay, I knew for sure that summer was over.  Time to return the last of the boats to his boathouse and batten down the hatches until next year.  Summer 2017 is officially over in Oysterville!

On Territory Road

We’ve had a few days of sunny and (relatively) dry weather.  Maybe it’s Oysterville’s version of Indian Summer, even though it hasn’t lasted very long.  Plus, it certainly didn’t come after ‘a killing frost’ which some say are typical of Indian Summers.  Even so, it’s been glorious out.  Tucker says it will all change on Tuesday.  Then, apparently, the rains of Autumn will begin in earnest.

Headed for the Boathouse

Tucker watches those things.  I think it’s genetic.  Even though he didn’t come to Oysterville full-time until he retired, he is more tuned in to the weather and all its nuances than most of the rest of us.  I think it goes back to his great-grandfather Meinert who ran off to sea in his youth.  That was in the days of sailing ships and survival often depended on how you read the weather.

I don’t think our Oysterville survival is especially weather dependent these days.  But the little fourteen-foot lasers – the mainstay of the Oysterville Regatta Fleet – would be vulnerable to a righteous storm, and a big blow could happen anytime now.  So, seeing Tucker haul the last boat up from the Bayshore is a sure sign!  The bright colored pumpkins scattered along Territory Road seem to mark his way home.  Autumn is here!   It’s official!

One Day at a Time

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

 Photo by Pat Fagerland

It’s sort of like trying to have your cake and eat it too, this living one-day-at-a-time business.  That’s the way we are doing our lives these days, or at least that’s what I tell those who ask.  We try to do whatever becomes the most important – with getting Nyel medical attention at the top of the list – every day of the week.  But, of course, “life goes on” as they say.

So, we are learning to say “if ” a lot.  If we can be there.  If we are in town.  If we are able.  It’s not one bit satisfactory but that’s just the way it is.  (We say that a lot, too.)  And the alternative seems pretty ridiculous.  Stay inside, closed in and shuttered?  Not our style – certainly not mine.

Interestingly, I find myself thinking about the AA serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Photo by Pat Fagerland

It says a lot about how Nyel and I are living these days.  About how we should all live all the time, no doubt. But, it doesn’t talk about how you make plans, how you cancel meetings and appointments, how you can’t always hold up your end of things.  Perhaps that’s where serenity comes in… but that isn’t quite it.  After all, what is a life without plans?  Nothing filled in on the calendar means no life at all as I see it.

Not that we don’t have role models for this one-day-at-a-time-thing among our family and friends.  We do!  And, I think the truth of it is that each person must find the balancing that act works for them.  For sure, we are still experimenting.  So far, so good – at least I think so.  Our loved ones and friends are amazingly supportive and understanding. And resilient!  We have yet to feel abandoned by anyone because we can’t reciprocate properly.  Now, if we can just learn to cut ourselves some slack…

Surpassing Forty Years of Expectations

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Lummi Tradition, Planked Salmon

If I’d ever made a bucket list, a cedar planked salmon dinner would have been on it.  Right near the top.  It was one of the first things I wanted to experience when I moved full-time to the Northwest.  For years I had heard about the Lummi Island Salmon Barbecue, that it was open to the public for the price of a ticket, and that it was fabulous.

When I met Nyel in the early eighties, it was one of the ‘adventures’ I proposed.  At that time, the Lummi event occurred at the end of summer – maybe on Labor Day Weekend – which wasn’t ideal since both of us were involved with school – I, teaching; he, attending the U.  However, the timing wasn’t the deal-breaker.  It was that he had already had a Lummi Island experience with his former sweetheart.  He didn’t really talk about it but in true womanly fashion, I figured it out and the subject was dropped.

Just About Ready

But… I always had a hankering.  And then, the other day our friends Erik and Pat proposed bringing all the fixings for dinner to our house.  “Which would you like?” Erik asked.  Salmon or tuna?  I have both, caught this summer and in the freezer.”

Salmon was our response and when Erik said, “Oh good.  I’ll bring the barbecue and the cedar plank…”  Really?  Cedar planked salmon???  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!  As it turned out, when they arrived laden with appetizers and side dishes, the barbecue with briquettes-at-the-ready and the most gorgeous salmon filet ever… Erik had left home without the cedar plank!

Ready to go!!

Nyel’s amazing collection of salvaged ‘stuff’ to the rescue!  Part of a bundle of unused cedar shingles!  “Perfect!” said Erik.  And the cooking began.  The result exceeded all expectations.   We both had seconds and, had we not been cautioned to leave room for dessert, we probably would have gone for thirds!  And, of course, the best part of all was seeing how it was done!  Wow!  We know full-well that the salmon caught by Erik’s own hand and on his own boat can’t quite be replicated by us land-lubbers.  But we have plenty of fresh planks ready and waiting!

Another Unexpected Delight!

Friday, September 29th, 2017

The View from Our East Windows

Our trip back from Portland yesterday afternoon couldn’t have been better.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive and we reveled in the scenery all the way to our front door.  What a beautiful area we live in!  It never ceases to bring us pleasure.

And, then when we got here, we found the biggest surprise of all.  Despite months of deferred maintenance and neglect on our part, our garden looks spiffier than it has for a long, long time!  The lawns (yes, we have several!) have been mowed and trimmed, and the rhododendrons along our east fence – which had been threatening to totally block our view of the bay – have been beautifully pruned.  And besides that — the meadow has been mowed!  Our view is back!  Our yard looks like someone lives here!  We keep going to the windows and looking out – totally enchanted with all of it.

The Newly Mown Meadow

Big kudos to Chuck Messing and Vivian Wattum – the lawn fairies – and to Jay Short and his crew of hedge-pruning elves  and to Jim Kurtz, the meadow-mowing-man.  We feel hugely indebted to all of you.  I’m thinking hugs and chocolate-something-or-other for starters…

And it wasn’t only the garden that surprised us.  We had left in a frightful scurry two weeks ago today, with a Poetry Gathering scheduled for Sunday afternoon – a gathering of thirty or so, at least according to the RSVPs.  Three poets, a potluck dinner, and no host or hostess.  Neighbors Carol and Tucker to the rescue!  A hurried meeting as I packed the car and Nyel struggled to get ready for yet another hospital stay. Little did we know it would be for two whole weeks.

I showed Carol some of the tricks of getting the house ready but realized long afterward that I hadn’t shown her where the plates or silverware was.  Tucker knew (from many previous events) how to move the furniture.  Charlie Talbot would be here the following day to help set up.  I showed Tucker where the vacuum lived and where the breaker switches are in case the stove should go wonky again.  And what else???  I wondered what would greet us yesterday when we opened the door.

Burn Pile

But, like the garden, the house looked to be in apple-pie order.  Furniture returned to familiar spots.  The carpet, far cleaner than the way we left it.  The kitchen neat and tidy – the dishwasher empty.  And, as far as we know to this point, everything returned to its proper place.  Wow!!  The best homecoming imaginable!  Thank you, everyone who helped!  We are ever-grateful!

P.S. – If this blog goes up later than usual, it’s because I keep going to the windows to look outside!  Wow!  Even though it’s raining… wow!

Platitudes with Attitude

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

A member of Pennsylvania’s Electoral College cast his ballot Monday for Donald J. Trump in Harrisburg, Pa. Credit Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

So, Round One of the Electoral College Part is completed and we have found out which interpretation of the democratic process is alive and well here in the U.S. of A.  It could have been the “by the people” part.  Or it could have been the traditional process part.  Ultimately, tradition trumped (you can safely say) the wishes of the majority.

Of course, Round Three has yet to happen – the official vote-counting by the House and the Senate, presided over by Vice President Biden.  Presumably, when that count is completed and any objections are resolved, the results will be considered final and the winner will be sworn into office on January 20th.

No matter what, there will need to be a lot of attitude adjustments among the populace. We will no doubt be dusting off those old platitudes, big time.  Like “just suck it up.”  And “you made your bed, now lie in it.”  And probably “I told you so!  I told you so!”   To say nothing of “grin and bear it.”  And “deal with it.”  And, my personal favorite “pull up your big boy panties.”

Amalie Materna as Brunhilde, 1876

Pinterest tells us that there are 1,000 ways to say “xuck it up.”  Now that is just plain sad.  What it telegraphs to me is that a whole passel of us out here in the world beyond cyberspace need reassurance about our situations and that, no matter what, there’s a platitude to do that very thing.  God forbid we should think about our situation or find a thoughtful way to correct it.  And, admittedly I, too, am right in the middle of the knee-jerk platitude reaction.  For the time being, I’m stubbornly going with “it ain’t over till it’s over,” as Yogi Berra so famously said.   Or if you have a more theatrical turn of mind, “not till the fat lady sings.”

If today’s New York Times is correct (and who knows, these days) seven of the Electoral College members voted for people other than Clinton or Hillary!  How does that work?  And which platitude in my bag of tricks does that fit – “marching to a different drummer”?  Or maybe, not a platitude at all.  How about Albert Einstein’s observation on things:  “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

The east wind doth blow…

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Out Our West Window

Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but it’s that damned east wind.  When it whistles and gusts and blows unrelentingly over Willapa Bay right toward us, those of us living on the inner edge of the Peninsula freeze our tushes off.  There have been times when, even with our heat cranked up to a tropical number and fireplaces roaring at full blast, we can’t get the inside temperature past 54.  Not comfortable.  If there should happen to be a power outage (which has happened on occasion) woe be unto us!  Fortunately this isn’t one of those times… yet.

I always blame it on this old, drafty house.  Even though Nyel and I had it insulated before we moved here full time and, even though we have the east-facing storm windows and storm doors battened down, the house seems to suck up the cold.  Perversely (I admit), I take some pleasure in hearing similar complaints from many others who live on this edge.  Even from those with new homes constructed with every modern energy-saving technique.  It’s just the way it is.  The flip side of the ‘fabulous view’ coin.

On Our Porch – Feels Like 35

As I add layers of clothing and resort to wearing my down jacket inside (at least in the east end of the house), my thoughts go back to the days of my forebears – before electricity, before miracle fibers, before radar maps and NOAA weather forecasts.  People survived but sometimes the toll was extreme.  Take the winter of 1875 for instance.

The night of January 1, that year, the weather turned sharply cold; the thermometer hovered at zero.  When morning dawned, parts of the bay were sheets of solid ice, the oysters embedded within it.  As the tide moved in and then out, the oyster-laden ice simply floated out to sea, totally wiping out many beds. The freezing weather continued for eight long days and nights.

Although the industry recovered quickly from “the big freeze of ’75,” and oystermen soon regained their annual production rate of 200,000 baskets, the following December a second weather event again caused havoc.  On the beds, wind-driven waves washed oysters away completely or piled them into high ridges causing the oysters at the bottom to suffocate.

The Dock in Oysterville, 1884

Despite these weather disasters, oystermen remained optimistic and, in 1884, built a half-mile long dock at the north end of town.  It was equipped with a track and sail car which could be used to get back and forth to the deeper water where their boats were anchored.  When the bay again froze over in 1888, however, the dock was swept away by floating ice during the break-up of a spring thaw.  It was never replaced.

That those early residents were intrepid, I have no doubt.  But I can’t say that thoughts of then do much for my huddled spirit during these cold snaps.  If I were a robin, my head would be right under my wing for sure!

A Winter Weenie in the Fearsome Flurries

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
Yesterday on Highway 30

Yesterday on Highway 30

We weren’t carrying chains and hadn’t resorted to snow tires yet this year, but here came winter!  Beautiful big flakes of it as we headed east out of Astoria on Highway 30.  I didn’t like it.  Not one bit.  I am a Winter Weenie of the Maximum Variety.  Don’t like the cold.  Don’t like the slushy, freezing wet.  And especially I don’t like driving in it with no preparation.

But, we had yet another medical appointment in Portland and, after checking the weather reports, the highway cams, the FaceBook pages of unseen road companions, we decided to go for it.  It helps a lot that we have a great heating system (right down to the seats) in our little Prius.   And a thermos of hot decaf coffee.  And, of course, that Nyel was driving.  Had I been at the wheel, the speedometer needle would never have gone above the 35 mark.

The Oceti Sakowin camp near Standing Rock.

The Oceti Sakowin camp near Standing Rock.

For as long as we could get KMUN, we listened to the news – much of it about Standing Rock.  Now that the Army Corps has ordered a more in-depth environmental study, Tribal Chairman of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota Dave Archambault II has suggested that the thousands of protestors gathered at the pipeline site go home.  Time for supporters to return to their homes and spend time with families and loved ones.

But there were mixed messages coming from ‘both camps.’  The DAPL (Dakota Access Pipe Line) people say they will proceed anyway.  Some protesters said they are staying anyway.  There is speculation about President-Elect Trump’s position and what he might say and do.  And winter has arrived in North Dakota Big Time.  The only ‘given’ is the cold.  And in North Dakota, that is serious business.

Winter at Standing Rock

Winter at Standing Rock

As I watched the slushy road on our way to Portland, I thought about all those intrepid supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux – digging in for winter.  Real winter.  The kind that looks romantic and beautiful in the pictures but takes knowledge, skill, and determination to live in – especially in a teepee!  I am full of admiration, good thoughts.  And prayers.

Meanwhile… we are hitting the road again this morning – on our way across the river to get our snow tires in place.  We still have some traveling to do between now and the end of the snow season.

Nick’s Book

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
Book Cover

Book Cover

His book came in the mail about six weeks ago.  Photography By Nicholas James Wilson-Codega.  Published posthumously by his loved ones.

It’s taken me this long to write about it, and even now I’m not sure what to say.  The images are amazing and startling and strong.  There was no pussy-footing by this young photographer.  He saw the world boldly – in stark blacks and whites, sometimes; in audacious color at others.  His people pictures, especially his self-portraits, are intense.  It is in his photographs of the natural environment – the splash of a raindrop, the Oysterville Meadow in summer, thistles in sunlight – that he reveals a softer side.

Sometimes I see in an image the little boy who lived across the street in the years my mother was still in this house.  We would see him now and then, loping across a field or down the lane.  Later, we would hear him practicing his drums with the same intensity that his images reflect. Who knew?

Nick's Portrait of His Mom

Nick’s Portrait of His Mom

Who knew that young Nick would not live to see his twenty-eighth birthday?  Who knew that he would leave such a strong legacy, even so?  And who knows what it must have cost those who gathered and culled and put together this lovely little book?

Of course, I wanted more.  When I asked, his mom wrote:   We probably won’t do a second one but we are thinking about putting as much of Nick’s work as possible on a web site so everyone who wants to can take a look…sort of a permanent on-line gallery.  That will take some organizing so it won’t happen until after the New Year. In the meantime, I’m in contact with Kelly at the high school art department and the Ocean Park library about donating a framed print each.  It feels good to me to know that some of Nick’s work will be available to the community that cared so much for him.

Amen to that.  Bless you for giving us something tangible to help us remember.  And for showing us how Nick-the-man fulfilled so many promises of Nick-the boy.