This coastal image comes several hundred miles to the south from a little town on the Oregon coast we like to visit a couple times annually, usually in the wintertime and early spring. We often splurge and rent the same place right on the beach so if bad weather beats us back we can press our noses to the windows and shiver in triumph at the rain. In order to find some peace and quiet from all the Portland day-trippers, it will necessarily behoove one to sneak off and I’ll admit that daring adventures have taken place in the gap at the toe of the distant headland, over the years. However, typically it is necessary to go up-and-over and one must take care to not slip in elk dung on the way down.
Adam and I explored for miles to this point, crossing four distinct beaches, a swift creek, the lush evergreen headland where false lily of the valley was probably invented and then some tide pools to finally arrive at a colorful-but-foul purplish kaleidoscope of slime and moosh: Velella velella (by-the-wind sailors). Several days prior, Oliver Fern had an apoplectic fit the first time he inadvertently stepped into a mushy pile of this jellyfish-like creature while barefoot. It’s distinctly possible this particular unusually massive die-off of Velella had something to do with the warm blob of water that was parked stubbornly off the Pacific coast at the time. Lord knows, there has been plenty of depressing weirdness going on in the oceans these days. Continued, very close monitoring of our world waterways is more critical than ever if we have any chance of figuring our asses out from our elbows (before the entire food chain collapses would be a good goal) which is why I grieve moreso everyday at the cavalier charlatan standing at the helm of the United States along with his various superrich oligarch appointees, collectively stunningly belligerent to good science or environmental stewardship that extends beyond useless, corporate day-of-caring sort of baloney. If I were a fish, I would head for the bottom (evoluting into something bizarre such as with a little lantern perched on my forehead, no doubt) and just stay there with the tube worms.
In other more polite news: Seattle was blanketed with snow earlier this week. Snow Day!!!! Er, for some of us: The boys’ mother dusted off her snow boots, backpack and trekked to the train station in the dark of early morn. Adam and Oliver Fern slept in: Upon waking and blinking with shock at the storybook whiteness outside they bull-rushed their way past me to the closet for snow pants, gloves, balaclavas, scarves, hooded parkas……. they seemed to think we were venturing out onto the icy Pole in search of The Thing so I had to start ’em over. The morning was delicate and a bit tricky- little brother was recovering from pneumonia. I was relieved after a half dozen trips up and down our hill (one of the steepest streets in the city) for sledding- all that slippery trudging lowered his enthusiasm a few notches. We chucked a few snowballs and he was ready for hot cocoa. It’s true he occasionally soured and grimaced askance at the picture window in the living room when he caught glimpses of Adam zooming down into the valley but for the most part we were cozy and happy to be inside.
After sledding on his own for an hour, Adam picked up the fellytone and called his pal down the street who had enough of his big sisters and brought a few friends with him up the hill and I was shocked at how fast the kids were negotiating the hill. I made Adam put on a bike helmet. He and his posse of fellow bespectacled nerdy nine year olds got chilled and they disappeared to the warmth of someone’s house in Montlake for the rest of the day. He would resurface in the evening. Oliver and I had ventured out for a walk to check on the neighborhood when Adam appeared out of the fog like a ghostly apparition, albeit one with the unmistakable glaze of tired satisfaction- along with pizza sauce, cookie crumbs and God knows-what-other junk food consumed in ridiculous quantities- plastered across his face.
postscript: I’m retroactively publishing this tepid commentary about oceanic crisis and unsafe urban sledding, only patches of snow remain. We’re reeling a little. The night of the snow day was our last walk with Lucy the pug. Born fourteen years ago in St. Helens, Oregon, she died this week very unexpectedly. Lucy was one of the sweetest, friendliest dogs you could ever hope to meet. I’ll look forward to sharing a little ditty about her later when it becomes easier to focus on wonderful memories instead of the horrible empty space. In the meantime, Adam won’t let me wash her filthy, stained quilt. All of us have always groaned about how disgusting it is there in the living room for anyone to see, God forbid you would touch it by accident and contract Pug Leprosy. Now Adam’s using it as a sort of throw on his bed for nighttime. This morning, a severely mentally-ill homeless fellow with a reddish beard and battered, white construction helmet stood in our driveway for ten minutes profanely telling the world off……fuck this, fuck that, fuck everything. I even heard him tell Donald Trump to fuck off (he wasn’t completely out of his mind, then). Whenever I witness someone so profoundly disturbed, I can’t help thinking about what their life was like when they were five, ten or fifteen years old and I just weep inside. And this is the thing I dislike about snow days: That temporary, very sober period which follows when the snow melts and everything suddenly loses its brightness.