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and only the stormy hearts know what it says

While the rest of the PNW was suffering its first hot temperatures of the summer this weekend, we were literally basking in the glory of a beautific summer day on the Oregon Coast.

The timing was strictly a stroke of luck. We scheduled this bonus weekend at the end of June, when the proprietors of the cabins we frequent offered us first dibs on a cancellation for this weekend. The perks of being a regular.

So instead of sweltering in 102 degree heat in our non-air conditioned house, we were stretched out on the sand on a perfectly perfect 80 degree day under ridiculous blue sky.

And we remembered the sunscreen! And the sunglasses! So we weren't burnt to human-shaped crisps! Nor were our eyeballs broiled in their sockets! Hurray for responsibility!

A tempered victory, though. We have a standing Oregon Coast Checklist to help us remember the things we need/want/might bring. It's rare that we bring most or even half of the items, but it's indispensable in helping us remember everything for each trip. In our haste to get out the door, I didn't bother pulling up the list. We've made this trip dozens of times, surely we'd remember what we needed. And we were traveling especially light this time. Most of the list wouldn't apply.

Oh, nay nay.

Throughout the weekend, one of us would suddenly name a thing we realized we'd forgotten, accompanied by a facepalm. "Camera!" "Chairs!" "Butter!" Whoops. Lesson learned: always leave a note check the list.

Sunday was nearly as hot in Portland as Saturday, but in Oceanside, we had fog and cloud cover so heavy it was as if the sky was only a hundred feet high. No wind, no sun, and just the right combination of cool and temperate. It was goddamn glorious. Sal and I did not a single damn thing all day except relax and read and nap.

An hour or so before sunset, we changed to warmer clothes, filled a small cooler with ingredients for a campfire meal (hot dogs, buns, marshmallows, carrot sticks, etc.), and claimed a spot on the beach for building a fire. This is a pretty regular thing on Oregon beaches, so it's easy to find a ring of rocks and remnants of a previous fire someone else built. The sophistication of the firepits will vary, but it's rare that you have to build one from scratch.

We managed to snag a good one, complete with two big driftwood logs for seating, and only had to build a second ring on top of the first to make it deeper. Our luck ended there, though. We'd bought a small bundle of wood (with the heat, the beach was crazy-crowded, which means there was not a stick of small driftwood to be found) but didn't realize until we were trying to get a fire going that it wasn't seasoned and there were no pieces that were really kindling-sized.

We'd almost burnt through all of our paper trying to get the fire going and were about to admit defeat when a guy came down the hillside, saw that our fire, you know, wasn't, and offered to bring some kindling from his van. WAY too good to be true, this guy. It could've been a candy-from-strangers situation, but he was just a nice guy with good timing doing a nice thing.

A really nice thing, actually, since he didn't actually have kindling in his van, he had wood in his van, which he then chopped into a big bundle of kindling and hauled back down the hillside to us. And single-handedly saved our much-anticipated beachside picnic in the process. Then politely refused any offer to share in our fire or food, just left with a handshake and a smile. Faith in humanity: restored.

So we enjoyed our cookout and our fire until well past dark, ocean rumbling nearby, fog bank keeping the air cool and still, the smell of woodsmoke bringing back too many memories to count.


title taken from "Young Sea" by Carl Sandburg, which contains one of my all-time favorite lines:  "I am the last word/ And I tell/ Where storms and stars come from."

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Reader Comments (2)

That sounds perfect despite the forgotten items such as kindling. Glad you both had some down time together.

Aug 8, 2012 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterTessa

Tessa: Thank you! It was time much appreciated. Although the downside that's endemic with any getaway was present here, as well: returning to the daily grind. :)

Aug 8, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Registered CommenterBitty

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