When last I saw you, I believe I mentioned a little adventure I was about to embark upon. I am feeling like telling you all about it. I do think I am about to "spin quite a yarn" for you just now. You may like to get yourself into a comfortable "yarn spinning" position...
I am headed to the sea where a little cottage waits for me...
I am collecting things. I'm making lists in my head. I am chasing the ribbon of hwy 18 through the corridor, past the blind curve where I once got a flat tire with nothing to spare. There, I was rescued by 'fresh from the hunt' cousins in an old Ford truck, fresh buck staring and bleeding in the rusted bed. They were loggers from Willamina. Nice as could be those two, even gave me the outside seat in the cab - the one next to the door. Put me right at ease, though I still gripped the screw driver inside the pocket of my "western breakfast" (old sheepskin coat). Shame on me.
I'm heading out on my yearly lone wolf trip to the coast. It's a tradition. (In fact, I do believe it's in the pre-nuptial contract I made the Engineer sign.) There is no anniversary date I hold to, I go when my soul needs it most and the coffers hold more than lint. I anticipate it with an almost Pavlovian drool. A muscle memory. I know this road as well as my own breath, from here to just beyond the California border. After all these years, the drive has become a meditation on history - the land's...my own.
My particular relationship with this landscape is smudged by a multi-generational experience; my singular memories are mixed with the recall of my parents, grandparents and a great, great somebody attached to my line. I am related to the Crabtrees and the Turners *(the names of old Oregon towns), I have read a letter from my great grand uncle Taulton Turner, sent from, "Portland! What a town!" after a few days ride from *Scio on horseback. I am kin to the first white baby born in Linn County. One of my greats gave birth to twins - on a raft - while harrowing the Willamette River! Of course, I can't be sure of that, for our family has never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
The ritual begins with loading up the car. Camera, guitar, boom box, music, journals, sketchbooks, a comfy cardi and a sense of anticipation. Then, it's off down the highway. As I slide 'round another bend, I look up the country road where I once lived. An exceptional year in the woods, living on a few acres in a 1967 Airstream caravan next to a babbling brook. That was a long time ago.
When I hit Hwy 101, I know I'm close to my first stop. The local thrift - in hopes of scoring a weekend sweater, a curio of odd delight or an obscure book of Rod McKuen poems for a friend. This trip, I only find baggy beach pants and some happy daisy sheets. Then I take off my shoes and walk the fine grit sand of the southern bay before lunch.
When it is finally check in time, I greet the woman behind the desk; Starla is her name and she's worked here longer than the many years I have been coming to this place. I get the key to my cottage. The first thing I do after unloading the car, is to re-arrange all the furniture (don't fret, I put it all back into it's proper place before I leave). I open the windows wide to let in the briny air.
Now it's time to pour a glass of wine and sit - to breathe a deep breath, to slow my racing pulse, to gaze out at my view. What I see nearly makes me weep with the beauty of it.
I sit until dark, listening to the surf. Tomorrow I will wake early and take the trail down to the beach, seeking low tide.
...and tomorrow I will finish my yarn, for there is more to tell.