Archive for the ‘Autumn in Oysterville’ Category

Patience is NOT my middle name!

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

The Meadow in Springtime

I’ve blogged before about patience.  More specifically, about my lack thereof.  I know that because I just searched on “patience” in my blog file and found 48 entries about patience — most especially about the non-existence of mine.  Out of 4,083 blogs in 13 years, that may not be an overabundance.  I’m not sure.  And I don’t have the patience to think about it.

In my “Out of Sync; Out of Patience” entry on September 29, 2015, I began:  I’m glad the month is wearing down. It’s been a hard one. My stars must be out of alignment or my karma is catching up with me or I’m just going through a bad patch. You know… one of those time periods when you should just stay in bed until you are back in sync with the world.  

The Meadow in Winter

And I went on to enumerate a whole gaggle of little annoyances that coulda shoulda woulda been readily taken care of in a more perfect world.  That was eight years ago, almost to the day!  I’m happy to say that I am chaffing at my current bit about more important matters which, in my mind means some sort of progress.  I’m concerned about the mowing of the meadows in front of Oysterville (which is usually completed by the end of September) and I am concerned about the weather (which needs to be dry for the mowing.)  You have to admit that the latter issue is truly a biggee — and one that, sadly, can’t be influenced  by my worrying and stewing.

Once upon a time, the meadows in front of Oysterville were kept cropped by my grandfather’s cattle.  Nowadays, the Oysterville Restoration Foundation coordinates the mowing effort and homeowners contract with Mr. Jim Kurtz to do the honors.  The contract with the weatherman doesn’t work quite so smoothly, though.

The Meadow in Autumn Starring Jim Kurtz – The Mower Man

We badly need a dry spell so that Mr. K. can get on with it.  This year the meadow grass is more luxuriant and higher than ever. and we need the mowing to restore our bay view and reassure us that the gorse and scotch broom and alders that pop up each summer will not get a permanent foothold. It’s one of nature’s certainties that the meadows will restore themselves once again come spring, giving protection to the nesting birds and field mice and other little creatures of Oysterville, and the cycle will continue to tie the past and present together in our ever-changing world.

If my folks had named me after that New England ancestor Patience Mc??, would that have helped?  In this case I doubt it.  Like time and tide, the weather is out of our control.  So is my patience.


The nip of fall and the whiff of rye!

Saturday, September 25th, 2021

Rustic Rye Bread

It’s been a little chilly out today.  And cloudy, too.  But when the sun broke through  about noon, it felt (and looked!) like a righteous autumn day.  The topper came when I followed my nose to the kitchen and was treated to a buttery slice of Nyel’s rye bread, fresh out of the oven.  What is it about colors and fragrances, tastes and sensations that just cheer you right up No Matter What?

The timing was perfect.  We ate lunch and then I went to author Caroline Miller’s Just Read IT Zoom Meeting to discuss Louise Penny’s fifteenth book, A Better Man.  My discussion partner was historian Serena Zilliacus who is working on her first novel and the half-hour program was moderated by our host, Caroline.  Before we began, we met with Rob Hoffman (whose title I’m unsure of, but I’m going to call him “the producer”) and two sound engineers.

Dappled Shade Garden

First, let me say that if you have been dissatisfied with your zoom meetings, I highly recommend a techie team like Rob & Company.  In a few short minutes, they solved the lighting problems that have been plaguing me since my first zoom experience a year and a half ago.  Yay!  And if you want to be totally captivated by your discussion partner — to the point that you forget to even be nervous at all — see if you can book Serena.  Or at least someone who is from Australia.  Her accent was charming and certainly must have overridden any gaffes I might have made.  Or even my frozen moments due to our dreaded “intermittent internet connection” in Oysterville.

As for Caroline… she is the perfect host!  She kept us on track (or tried to!) and would have none of my excuses about not talking about the plot. (Sorry, Louise!  I HAD seen your YouTube book launch of A Better Man in which you asked audience members not to give away anything about the book and I tried not to. Really I did.)

Three Pines Pin

All-in-all, it was great fun.  I was actually disappointed when Caroline said it won’t air until next April and May.  I hope I can still conjure up this morning’s heady “nip and whiff” to see me through.  No matter what, I’ll let you know so you can see it for yourselves.  I only hope we did Armand and the Three Pines characters justice!

Oh… and by the way.  I couldn’t find my little Three Pines Pin so I borrowed Carol’s to wear on the program.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t show up — poor lighting or too dark against my sweater or something.  I think it’s just a Three Pines thing — the pin, like the village, only shows up when someone has need of it.  So, perhaps, some of you WILL see it when the show is aired!

Fencing us in and them out in Oysterville?

Friday, September 24th, 2021

Double Picket Style – W.D. Taylor House, 1980s

Oysterville has long been known for its picket fences.  Not so much that it has them.  Lots of places do.  The commentary on our fences over the years has been upon their variety more than upon their actual existence.  I wonder if that’s because property owners mostly made their own pickets in the “olden days” — those days I think of as belonging to my grandfather and great-grandfather.

Churchyard Fence – Photo by Deirdre Purcell, 2015

With regard to fences, anyway, those “olden days” were before 1925, during the years my great grandfather had a “ranch,” purchased in 1902 by my grandfather and on which he raised dairy cows.  On November 12, 1925, my grandfather’s ranch foreman, B.G. Gove, wrote to my grandfather who,  apparently, was out of town.  I quote part of Mr. Gove’s  charming and informative letter here, leaving his spelling and punctuation “as is”:

A man run into a Cow some where neare Chinook some time back and smashed his car  of corse, no one oned the cow so his Layer toald him that as long as the Officers wasent trying to put the herd law in force, the County was responssal for the car so they broat suit agenst the county and the county comishenrs to clear their skirts sent the sherife to round up everyone that had stock running out.  They arrested Looes Loumes and Will Shagran so now Looes and Will are working to get the Herd Law squashed and it is surprising how many friends Looes can find to fite for him and he poses as a disinterested one working for the good of the Poor Widdow…  Nelsons Boy was over the other night with a paper for the Herd Law that is the only one I have heard of for the Law.  They Sure Mis you here.  Nelson was telling me that you had a herd Law passed (a State Law) when you were in the Senet  if that is so, why all this fus to get it a county law   the county can’t make Laws to conflick with the State can they….

Nyel Makes Pickets, 2012

At a meeting about another matter entirely at our schoolhouse the other day, Kathleen Sayce mentioned the picket fences that were once “typical” around the oldest homes in Oysterville.  She mentioned that, traditionally, the fences of Oysterville were placed around homes and gardens (of the vegetable, flower and orchard types) to keep out wandering livestock.   That was surely back in those free range days that Mr. Gove was writing  about.

And, for those who want “distinctive” looking pickets like those of the “olden days,” making them yourself is a necessity.  I think Nyel has made scores, if not hundreds, over the past thirty years.   So far, we haven’t had a single cow in the yard.  The deer, however, are another matter entirely.


Now that we’re one day into autumn 2021…

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Black-eyed Susans in the Autumn Sun

I can feel my spirits lift a little now that summer is really over.  I’m not sure why, but it seemed like things should have been easier and looked brighter during summer.  But nothing did.  The numbers kept climbing and people were surly and we felt more tired than usual.  Plus, here in Oysterville, the weather really wasn’t all that summery.

But yesterday and today feel just about right for fall.  A little nippy in the morning; blue skies and autumn-y leafy colors.  Some rain here and there — enough that the lawn has stayed wet all day long.  We’ve had a couple of fires in the fireplace and have begun to wonder about Christmas — will “the kids” come up and will we have a party and, if so, will my tired old outfit be okay one more time?

Bright Spots of Color on a Crisp Fall Morning

But before we get down to Christmas trees and poinsettias there’s Halloween to think of.  And Thanksgiving.  This is when I miss teaching school the most.  The best holidays come in October, November and December.   It’s a time, at least with young students, that families are the most involved in school — dads coming into the classroom to help carve Jack-O-Lanterns; grandparents joining us for a harvest meal at Thanksgiving and telling stories from “the olden days,”; a family night Christmas Program with kids teaching parents and siblings how to make origami ornaments and then decorating  the huge tree in the gym before the big holiay production.  Or don’t they do that anymore?  Probably not in these politically correct times.  And especially not during the sheltering.

I’m glad, though, that I have all those years of memories as we ease into autumn.  If not something new to look forward to, at least the comfort of recalling old experiences — when the world was predictable and the future always seemed full of hope.

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.