August 17, 2011
By the sea
We’d slept with the windows open, and all night, the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashed and sang in my dreams. Because our bodies were on east coast time, we both woke up at about 5 am, when the sky was still dark. My husband needed to work for a couple of hours before his vacation officially started. Well, mostly, he needed find a place with internet access so that he could watch the stock market crash. He went off to find the one place in the little town where he could get the iPad to work, while I grabbed my camera and put on sandals for an early morning walk.
I went out along a beach that was filled with driftwood: not little pieces of driftwood like we find up at camp, but huge trees, bleached white and too big to move. We were staying on the land of the Quileute people, who have fished here for thousands of years. I walked to their little marina, looking out at the huge rock that towers over the village. Ancestors are buried on that rock, and local legend says that spirits live there still.
I passed the one restaurant, the tribal school, and the community center. Across from the docks were some clapboard houses and some trailers. The last fishing boat was just leaving. A black dog stood in the middle of the road and watched me as I walked past.
The rocks of the breakwater were striped white with bird poop. I clambered around, my sneakers slipping, as I tried to get a good photo. When I gave up and sat still, I saw movement in the water. A harbor seal! He pushed up to look at me, and I noticed four more faces. The seals swam up to the edge of the rock, then disappeared under the water again.
The sky was getting lighter, but the sun was still hidden behind clouds. I watched a boat come into the harbor, a little one moving very slowly. Two men yanked the motor off on the dock and began taking it apart. I heard a car crunch along the gravel road and a car door slam. Then I had that feeling I get when I’m being watched. I looked back behind me and saw a man bent over a tripod. I sat still so as not to ruin his picture: he probably needed a human silhouette to show the size of the rock. When I walked back past him, he smiled and said, “Oh, you’ve found the perfect spot.”
The black dog watched me again as I walked back behind the restaurant and over another breakwater to the beach. The wind had risen so I found a place to sit on the sand, tucked behind the bleached roots of a tree that had floated in during high tide.
Posted by jo(e)