Archive for the ‘Autumn in Oysterville’ Category

Oh boy! It’s an errand day!

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

During these sheltering times, we tend to save up all our “erranding” to do in one fell swoop if at all possible.  It just seems a more effficient use of time.  But, come to think of it, we have plenty of time these days…

Anyway,  today is the day and on our list are the following:

  • Ocean Park Clinic: Lab work for Nyel.
  • Ocean Park Timberland Library:  Pick ups and returns.
  • Nahcotta Recycling:  Flattened cardboard boxes.
  • Surfside: Christmas Delivery to friends.
  • Oysterville Post Office: sending and receiving.

I’m not crazy about doing errands of any kind.  Never have been.  These days, though, I chunk them together and Nyel usually goes with me so we make an “outing” of it.

Sometimes we drive through an area we haven’t visited for a while — maybe Seaview or maybe out to the end of Stackpole Road.  Not ever far.  Just enough for a change of scenery.  Nyel, who is always more observant than I– my excuse these days is that I’m the designated driver — is the one who points out things that are new or have changed or are noteworthy for some other reason.

These outings always remind me of the “Sunday Drives” we went on when I was a child.  It was after the war when we could finally have a car and be able to count on tires and gasoline and other things that had been rationed for so long.  I loved those drives — they seemed so relaxed and sort of pointless.

Come to think of it, it’s so like me to combine a “pointless outing” with necessary errands.  Perhaps my New Years Resolution should be to do more things that are pointless…  But it’s hard to see the point.

Even Granddaughters Grow Old

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Fern III with the Winter Blahs

It’s been close to ten years since I’ve “reported” on the status of Fern III — the  Deer Foot Fern (or Davallia to be more exact) who sits on a table in the bay window of our bedroom.  Right now she seems to be going through a case of the winter blahs — commiserating with us during this Sheltering Time, I think.  Perhaps it’s time for another “haircut” — an event that always seems harder on me than on her.

I’ve been reminding her of her heritage and how it is that she has been here with us for the last fifteen-or-so years.  I can’t go back to her very beginnings, there being no for ferns, but I can go back three generations. Her grandmother lived in the Ocean Park Timberland Library during the 1980s.  I often stopped to talk with her, marveling at her fury feet (rhizomes, I was told) that crept over the edge of the big pot she sat in.

Fern After A Haircut, 2015

One day, Sue Cowell, who worked at the library, asked me if I’d like a cutting.  She and Librarian Bonnie Sayce were transplanting Fern to a bigger pot that afternoon.  Fern II was sort of puny by comparison to her mother, but she liked it at our house on the bay and she soon filled out and needed to be transplanted herself. Visitors to the house often referred to her as a Rabbit or Hare Foot Fern or even a Squirrel Foot Foot Fern.  Apparently the color of the rhizomes of a particular plant determine the animal it is associated — white, for instance, with Rabbit or Peter Cottontail.

Fern II lived with us for almost twenty years and, by the time we sold the house to Ann Chiller, she was much too big to move.  Besides, she and the house seemed perfect for each other and we didn’t want to break up such a happy relationship.  So Ann inherited the plant.

In 2007 or 2008 Ann, in her turn, sold the house.  Before she moved she brought us a present — a small cutting from Fern II.  And so Fern III began her sojourn in Oysterville.  Even here in our bedroom, she is surrounded by books which must resonate in some primordial fashion, hearkening back to the library of her grandmother’s time.  She has outgrown several pots and has flourished, even with my somewhat haphazard care.

Fern III in 2011

I’m not sure where Fern’s forebears are these days.  The last I heard, Karen Pennington wrote that she had Fern II.  That was back in 2011.  Perhaps someone will write in response to this update and tell us a bit more — especially about Fern III’s grandmother who I met so long ago at the Library.  It’s hard to believe that Granddaughter Fern, herself, is forty-some years old — if you count the years since her mother left Fern I.  Wow!


Look who came calling!

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Yesterday afternoon the bay came calling.  Right into Oysterville she came just as bold as can be.  Quietly.  Relentlessly.  Creeping, creeping on and ever onward.

First she passed right by her usual stopping place.  Up and over the bank she came.  Into the meadow, co-mingling with Lake Little just as brazenly as you please.  She flooded out the egret pair who had been poking around the swampy edges .  And then she swallowed up the meadow all together.

She didn’t even hesitate at our fence. Under it she went, sliding along at a pretty good clip.  The wind died down and watched with ‘nary a sound ‘nor a ripple.  Over our east lawn she came, filling in the low spots, heading for higher ground.

She never made it to the front porch, but not for lack of trying.  She just ran out of time.  I didn’t hear the signal for retreat but it must have happened shortly after two.  I went to check on the chickens and the tide seemed to recede with each step I took.

It was a 12.3 footer.  Not as high as Monday’s 12.6.  But that stormy west wind yesterday morning helped blow her shoreward.  In December there will be some 13-foot tides.  I wonder if we’ll be lucky enough to welcome them clear into downtown Oysterville.  It’s been a while since anyone rowed a skiff up Territory Road, but maybe we’ll get a chance next month.  If we can find a skiff…

Hoaxes, Legends, and the Meany People

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

“When did we get so paranoid?” was more-or-less the topic under discussion during the Coffee Hour this morning.  You don’t need much imagination to realize that our conversation had begun with fanciful predictions of how this election day would play out.  Somehow, we landed on “doctored” Halloween candy as the beginning of the country’s obsession with (what we used to tell our kids) the Meany People.  Or maybe, we thought, it started with that Tylenol scare back in the… when?

So I did a little research, as in which came first.  It was the “Halloween Legend,” as it is now being called, and it began in 1958.  Marta was four; Charlie, two.  I remember that we had to spread their “treats” out on the dining room table and throw out any home-made stuff — no candied apples,  no fudge or divinity, no popcorn balls or chocolate chip cookies — all of which were favored “staples” in my day.  It wasn’t long before the commercial companies swooped in and everything was store-bought and wrapped up tight.  Where had the fun gone, anyway?  Trick or Trust?

Interestingly, in a 2019 report by Adam Miller of CBC News: Razor blades, sewing needles, even poison – police forces across North America have reported cases of nefarious objects in treats for decades. But how many children have actually been seriously injured or died as a result? The answer – given the available data on the topic – seems to be not a single one.

As for the Tylenol scare?  Based on seven (yet unsolved) murders in the Chicago area in 1982, that frightening episode came more than a generation later.  Just in time to assure that every single pharmaceutical (or cleaning or cosmetic or…) product that could possibly be ingested is locked in its container so those with arthritic hands (those most in need of many of these very products) canNOT get into them without some sort of assistance.  Or a hammer.  Fear of Faith??

And today… we are facing election results that we’ve been primed to suspect.  For years (not days, not weeks not months, but YEARS!) we’ve been lambasted by the media with information about voter fraud, foreign intervention, intimidation at the polls etc. etc. ad nauseum.  All of which is exaggerated to the max because no longer is there an “election day” — a time to take pride in exercising one of our basic democratic rights.  Now, with Covid precautions and USPS paranoia, this election has become a month of mail-in votes and long lines at the polls and looking over shoulders for the protestors and rioters.   Responsible Reporting or Media Manipulation?

What have we come to?


Come on out to visit, Mrs. C.! It’s your day!

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Vintage Halloween Postcard

Mrs. Crouch, known as Sarah to her family and close friends, arrived in Oysterville in the fall of 1892 — probably in October.  She accompanied her husband, the Reverend Josiah Crouch, whose salary (according to notations in the Record of Accounts of the Oysterville Baptist Church) began on November 1st of that year.  So, it is probable that the family spent Halloween of 1892 in this house which, beginning with their stay and for the next ten years, was the Baptist Parsonage.

Whether or not Halloween was celebrated in Oysterville in those years or by the Crouch family, in particular, is unknown.  Family members included Josiah and Sarah, their infant daughter Grace, Grandma Crouch and Josiah’s fourteen-year-old brother,  Charley.  If any “celebrating” was done it was probably by Charley — if we are to believe reports of what was going on in Ilwaco around the same time.

Vintage Halloween Postcard

John G. Williams, Sr. (known in our family as “Old Jack”) was born in 1897.  Granted, that was a few years later than the Crouch Family’s stay in Oysterville, but this is what he recalled about Halloween in his boyhood:

(from Johnny Stories: Scenes from My Boyhood in Old Ilwaco, by John G . Williams, Sr., as told to Joan Frances Mann, published by Rosemary Folklore, December 1987):
Halloween was kind of a bad night in Ilwaco. I wasn’t permitted to go out much, but the bigger boys roamed around most of the night doing devilment of various kinds. Everybody had boats, and they would pack a boat up the hill – maybe a 10 or 12 foot skiff – and put it in the schoolhouse in a room on the desks. Or they were great for coming up to my father’s barn. We had a nice carriage to ride around in on Sunday and they’d let it roll down the hill. And everybody had an old outhouse, a privy.  They tipped them over.  That was real good.  Or they’d hoist things up on the telephone poles. Just mischievous . I wasn’t allowed to get in on any of that. But we got up early next morning to go round the town and see what devilment had been done. Those were big fellows 18, 19, 20 years old…. 

Vintage Halloween Postcard

So, Mrs. Crouch… if you missed out on the Halloween experience here or elsewhere due (in part) to your untimely death on July 15, 1893 — this year is your golden opportunity.  Or should I say, “your Blue Moon opportunity”?   Yes!  It’s the second full moon of the month — which won’t happen again on Halloween until 2077!.  Also, it’s the end of Daylight Savings Time (which you never heard of in your lifetime). And, it’s also Halloween during a world-wide Pandemic (which is like the Influenza Epidemic 1889-1893 that you might remember).  It’s bound to be quiet in Oysterville which is already seriously children-deprived, anyway.

So, come on out, Mrs. C., and have a cup of tea and a good, long visit!  But let’s promise… no tricks, please!

The Iconic Sound of Autumn in Oysterville

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

The Duckhunter – Watercolor by Eric Wiegardt

Pop!  Pop!  Pop!  The sound of duck hunters down by the bay.  Until this morning I didn’t realize how much I missed that iconic sound of Oysterville.  It may be because of my aging ears but I don’t think that accounts for most of the early morning silence out on the bay.  I’m not sure we have many (if any) hunters in residence right now.

It would have all gone right by me except that I happened to call Dobby Wiegardt this morning.  As the phone was ringing I suddenly realized it might be too early for him but, right at that moment he answered.  “No, not early at all, he said.  I’m just sitting here watching the ducks.  The tide is low and they’re all coming in to feed.”

Duck Hunters Chris and Larry Freshley

I’m not a hunter, although I had plenty of chances during the years I was Dobby’s next door neighbor.  It wasn’t that I objected to the duck hunting, (and I certainly appreciate a good duck dinner), but I never took him up on the offer.  I just can’t bring myself to any sort of comfort level around guns.  Any type of guns.  It’s a wimpy, city-girl sort of thing I think.

When Nyel joined the household, long guns came with him and, soon, he was out there doing his share of “Pop! Pop! Pop!”  But, when we moved into “town,” other activities took precedence.  Only when the “Freshley Boys” (and more recently, Dave Cordray) are in town does that special sound of Autumn resonate here these days.

Too, in recent years, our friends among the newer arrivals on the Peninsula lament the hunting seasons.  I think that it is fast becoming a demarcation line between the old guard and the newcomers — another indicator of the many changes that are galloping along to overtake us.  Or… more probably, it’s just the years catching up with me that are causing me to notice.  Hard to tell sometimes.


Last night we talked about ankles…

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

A Good Listener

Most evenings she’s waiting for me in the garden when I go out to say “goodnight” to the chickens.  I stop a few feet from her and we chat for a bit.  It’s pretty much a one-sided conversation, although there is a lot of ear-twitching on her part.  Which might mean something.  Even something profound.  It’s hard to tell with Deer People.

At first I thought she was coming to check out those rock-hard pears that are thumping out of our old Bosc Pear Tree.  I’m pretty sure she still scarfs them up — there are none to be found on the grass but there are still lots on the tree so I’m crediting her with keeping the lawn vacuumed.

Checking for Pears

The first night she and I talked, I asked her to please help herself pear-wise, but to leave the roses and camellias alone.  I didn’t mention the apple tree or primroses or hydrangeas but she seems to be avoiding all the garden beds.  For now.  Hooray!

Last night I was asking her about her ankles.  I’m pretty sure she is young which may explain part of those shapely legs, but as far as I know, even elderly deer never need supp-hose.  Not like us ancient humans with our poor circulation and our salty snacks…  I asked her what her secret is.  So far, it’s still a secret.

Showing Off Those Lovely Legs

I also commented on her very shapely stick-like legs.  It must be that osteoporosis isn’t one of the curses of the Deer People.  Otherwise, in their bounding leaps over fences and other obstacles, those lower legs would snap like twigs.  She seemed pleased that I was complimenting her, but she had no advice for me.  Just another twitch of her left ear.

She was still there after I had tucked in the girls and was heading indoors.   I told her that I’m looking forward to continuing our conversation another evening.  She twitched again — most likely in agreement.


In the non-pumpkin zone… again!

Sunday, October 18th, 2020

Along Territory Road, 2010

The Great Pumpkin struck again yesterday.  He arrived (in broad daylight!) with a pick-up load of pumpkins and scattered them artistically through town.  When he began his tradition here in 2010, he left his bright orbs of color throughout the village — a few here and a few there along the verges.  There were some pumpkins  in front of every house as well as in front of the church and schoolhouse.  Since 2015… not so much.

You can definitely tell who’s considered “in” and who is considered “out” by Oysterville’s Great Pumpkin.  We,  like the church and a number of other places along Territory Road are obviously “out.”  Not a pumpkin to be seen.

Sally and Linus

Oh well.  Unlike Sally Brown and Linus van Pelt, we won’t be up all night over it.  In a way, it seems like good advertising… most of us that don’t get pumpkins aren’t Great Pumpkin aficionados.  It seems to be a two-way street… or verge, as the case may be — just one more indicator of the Great Divide in our wee hamlet.

The Cozy Season is Beginning

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

Our Librarry Fireplace, December 2018

Yesterday was the kind of day my grandfather might have said was “unseasonably warm” here in Oysterville.  According to the weatherman it was 68º but, working outside in the sunshine, it felt warmer.  It was a pleasant contrast to the weather of a few days ago when the sun was hidden from us because of low-lying fog.

In fact, on Saturday we had the season’s first fire in our library fireplace.  It felt wonderful but, even better, it seemed so  cheerful and cozy against the darkness and chill of day outside.  It was early for the “Cozy Season” to be starting, though.  I tend to think that Halloween is about when we begin activating our fireplaces for the year.  But, like everthing else in this year of 2020, even the usual time markers have re-adjusted themselves.

Mary Lou Mandell – Loyalty Day c.1970s

For instance, for almost as long as I can remember,  Loyalty Days  in early May have marked the beginning of the “Tourist Season” and the gateway to summer.  This year… not so.  It wasn’t until the beaches re-opened for the Fourth of July that the tourists really returned in force.  And many of us who live here year ’round never did feel like summer had arrived — certainly not with the usual crowds of relatives and friends who traditionally come visiting in June, July and August.

Likewise, the week after Labor Day has been the traditional beginning of the school year here.  This year… not so much.  Depending upon which school, which grade level and which School District, “back to school” has been somewhat of a moving target.

Helen & Harry Espy, 1947

It’s interesting to think about how much the rhythms of our lives seem anchored to so many familiar seasonal and holiday markers.  But, perhaps, the “Cozy Season” will still feel somewhat familiar.   In my grandmother’s time, it was when she gathered the mending and worked at it in the evenings by the woodstove, often listening to the radio or to my grandfather’s reading of an old favorite story.

For me, it’s a time to hunker down and re-group — to assess the current year’s progress and to begin planning for the next.  I know it will be a different experience this year.  I only hope it still feels “cozy.”


When I woke up today, it was 1947!

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

Duck Hunter Dobby Wiegardt

I was in the wrong bedroom and in the wrong part of the house — not in my familiar upper southwest corner with a view of the church — but in my snuggly, sleepy state that didn’t really register.  What woke me this morning were the sounds of duck hunters’ shotguns out on the bayfront.  Such a comforting all’s-well-with-the-world sound here in Oysterville.  At least to me.  It took me right back to my childhood.

I have a number of friends who take umbrage with those nostalgic hunting thoughts.  I don’t think any of them are deeply rooted here along Willapa Bay.  They didn’t grow up with relatives and friends (all “menfolk” in my memory) going out in the pre-dawn hours of fall and winter to “bag a few” ducks or geese for dinner.  This morning I wondered idly if whoever it was out there was hoping to score their Christmas dinner on this cold, rainy pre-dawn.

Of course, even when I was a child, there weren’t many folks who regularly supplemented their diets by hunting.  Not like in my grandfather’s childhood.  In those days, the late 1800s, the most “famous” holiday hunting exploits took place at Thanksgiving in Bay Center.  The men supplied the ducks (or other fowl) and the women cooked the rest of dinner which was served to the entire community in Tom Olsen’s Hall.  As part of the fun, the hunters divided themselves into teams and assigned point values to the various birds:

Duck Hunters Chris and Larry Freshley

Crane or Coot 5
Teal, Butterball, Jacksnipe 10
Widgeon, Redhead, Spoonbill, Bluebill 30
Mallard, Canvasback, Sprig 40
Brant 60
Canada Goose, White Goose 80
Honker Goose 100
Swan 200

The winning captain got the biggest pie; the loser had to make the first speech. The winning team got all the wishbones; the losers had to help clear off the tables after the feast.

I can’t help but wonder how such a community event would go over these days.  Maybe pretty well in 1947.  But in 2019… probably not so much.