THOSE OF YOU FOR WHOM I HAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS - ATTENTION!
I sent a half dozen of you some Barkley on Kindle last night or the night before while the price was reduced as an early Merry Christmas. I then realized, your email might send them to SPAM. So - if any of you and I communicate through my brigid email address - please go check your SPAM filter for something from Amazon so you don't miss out as a few of you got an early Christmas gift (the rest of you I'm still working on punching the air holes in the box before I package up your "gift").
Until later my friends, I leave you with some photos of Dad's last trip (literally, not just figuratively) to the Oregon Coast where we spent much of our childhood at a very humble vacation cottage we kept there.
With it being mid week and during school, it was a small group but it was a tight group. My cousin L (with whom Dad spent the summer) and her Partner K., and Big Bro's beloved only daughter and her daughter (her husband, a former submariner was working and wasn't able to make it) and Partner and I.
I remember once as a kid the tide went out so far we could drive a car around the backside of Haystack. Cars aren't allowed now, but 45 years ago, this beach was almost deserted but for the locals and the occasion moron that drove his car into the incoming tide and got stuck and watched it get covered with salt water. Still everyone morning, before it was even light, Bro and I would head out to the rock to check out the tide pools, not disturbing anything, just taking in the wonders of the natural world.
We'd throw some of them back in the water, the tide moving as fast and as slow as life itself, even as we ourselves could not sense that momentum, believing that it would always be like this. All that distance between ourselves and the future, it was not even a thought in that long peaceful creep of a childhood afternoon.
TV was not allowed at the cabin and we'd play outside unless it was raining hard enough to drown a duck, coming in only for lunch (and once to catch Dad watching football - busted!). We played, racing around rocks, trees and water until supper, when we'd come in to Mom, to fresh baked cheddar garlic bread and fresh caught fish. We'd bound in and she'd take us in, in arms that smelled of flour, her auburn hair scented with Wind Song perfume, her laughter a balm to any skinned knee that might have occurred during the days warfare. We ran until we couldn't take in a breath. We drove our feet deep into the sand, as if imprinting it forever. We conquered the waves on skim boards, shooting across the wet sand with nothing more than the physics of motion and an inch of water, getting a sensation of movement of air and water, that never left either of us.
I didn't mean we were ALL serious. There was these seagulls, and off to the left, one solitary seagull Partner asked why he wasn't joining and I said "he is just waiting for his tern". Laughing is good, even at really bad puns.
Time for some games as another shower comes through.
I got some "sea foam" candy and a HUGE bag of their incredible salt water taffy for my great niece and Monkeywrangler's kids.
So many meals at this place, in good times and in bad, as children, even during a time my Mom was battling cancer. She may have been too weak some days to get out of bed, but we were there, with Dad cooking pancakes that were so bad that the dog took them out and buried them and the one I threw in the fireplace wouldn't burn. Years later we still laugh about those pancakes.
We were there when storms tossed tree limbs like toys, taking out a window and reminding us just how vast and powerful the sky and ocean were, understanding both their saving power and severity. We were there through joy and hope and loss, and many, many a dismantled crab.
But for our first night- Chicken Tetrazzini.
We paused to say grace, for family and all our blessings. Then we dug in.
Before we knew it, it was time for "fresh off the boat" crab which K went and so generously bought. With it, there was mac and cheese and salad and garlic toast.
After a good night's sleep, it was soon time to go. K. taking Shasta out for one last romp on the beach before an 11 hour drive for them, back to the mountains.
Then back, as we gathered up our things.
Partner and I made one last trip, by ourselves, to the spot where my parents rented a cabin when Bro and I were children, right on the water, the place now a huge hotel. The dynamics of the ocean have changed, a river inlet to the ocean now shifted so much closer to the shoreline, where it had once been a huge expanse of beach.
What is it about certain things in life, the simplest of things, a tool, a smell, the feel of a piece of wood or small stone in your hand that evokes a place, a voice, a wistful goodbye, that makes you feel like a small child walking on a path of life that got suddenly big. And like a child, you deeply sense how it makes you feel, but the words you know to explain it are so very limited, so you just sit and look, and breathe it in.
The only sound I hear is the internal tick of a clock, the only other thing I can sense is a taste of salt, that of the ocean, or tears, I can not tell, but distilled there on my tongue taking me back some 40 or so years to that wooded area where we played soldier and spy, almost unchanged. As I stood there, I could hear my brother calling to me from deep within the green - We've beaten the bad guys, come join me. Not too soon Big Bro, I hope, but I will see you again
As he got into the car, I saw the tears as all he could get out was "last trip. . " Then I said "but you DID beat everyone over the age of 5 in Cribbage"-- and he slyly chuckled "I did" and laughed, enjoying the car ride back to his house with a stop for marionberry pie before we got on the ferry. Good memories to the end.
He yawns and his eyes close, there in the late Autumn sun, one last exhalation that empties his body of waking or worrying. The neighborhood lay in that soft hazy light that makes the houses look like old photos, faded scraps of color that scatter lightly on the earth, lighter than dust, with which one hard rain would wash forever from our sight and memory, were we not to gather them up to protect them.
I know that parts of my life are over and the cadence of my days and my future will change once again. But dealing with change as I grew up was easier at the cabin, because over the years it was as constant as the gentle waves upon the shore. And in this dark this night, as I sit in a quiet room, only my laptop to keep me company, I open up my picture folder stored therein, where I carry those glimpses of places and people that I love. As the world outside stills, I take myself back to it, as if I was there. I take myself back so I can let go.
I tell myself, not how much I miss him, and will soon miss my whole family, but that I am thankful for who they were to me, and always will be.
The cabin is gone, but it's the memories that matter. They are in me, the way waves, incessant, after a long time, cease to be sound, yet are still there