A Day at the Beach

It was windy and cold with constant rain alternating between sprinkles and torrents. Walking on Cannon Beach was not particularly comfortable, but watching the waves from the fireplace in our vacation rental house’s living room by was pretty great.

If you go to the Oregon coast in November, you must expect early winter weather, and that’s what we experienced. The massive windows facing the sea and the slight elevation of the house above the beach made for excellent viewing and encouraged a lot of general sitting around. Hot coffee and tea in the mornings, some local beer in the middle of the day, and wine in the evenings helped to keep us in our comfort zone — by the fire.

Only a few brave souls walked the shore, head bent into or away from the wind, fully bundled against the wetness and cold. Watching the walkers and their dogs helped us pass the time, as they wandered along, often stopping to examine some interesting (or not) bit of something left by the waves or the birds — or maybe dogs. Solely and in groups, the birds soared by quickly, boosted by the wind, occasionally lighting to chatter with others.

We’ve been coming to this beach for years — probably nearly thirty. When our son was in elementary school, we were introduced to the area by friends who had previously lived in Portland. After that introduction, we have come mostly annually ever since, with some portion of that same family. Fifteen years ago, they moved back to Portland, including their two now-grown daughters. The house we originally rented — and fell in love with — has since been torn down for a “mcmansion,” so we’ve had to adapt to new places on the last few visits.

Nonetheless, the place and town retain their familiarity and comfortableness — many of the same restaurants and shops, and of course, the beach doesn’t change. It lies about ten feet below town level, providing some separation between the development and the ocean. Mostly, the wide flat beach runs miles from the hills on the south to a ‘mountain’ at the north end, occupied by a state park.

But the dominating feature of the beach is a great rock, Haystack Rock, plunked down right at low tide line near the middle of town. Unscalable, the rock hosts a variety of sea birds and, in season, a Puffin rookery. Cliffs on the north and south ends of the beach provide shelter for gulls and other birds, including the pelicans that swoop down between the waves looking for fish, morning and evening.

Even in the summer, the water is too cold to go into without a wetsuit, although that doesn’t prevent some of the more reckless kids from going in — only to be retrieved when they turn that particularly blue color. In warmer months, we adults often walked barefoot into the shallows, having to hobble back to the fire now and then to regain some feeling in our feet.

This year, our beach walks were limited by the weather, although the brief respites of sun did allow for bundled jaunts of short duration. The appeal of the fireplace was overwhelming, but maybe that’s just a sign of being older, if not wiser. Sand in your toes is more enjoyable if you can feel them.

I warn you that the water’s cold,

Even wading can be bold.

Your feet can warm up in the sand

It makes them feel so very grand.

You might even see a crab or fish.

But watch out for the jelly-ish,

Cause they can sting just from a touch

And that can hurt you very much.

But mostly the waves can entertain,

Whether in the sun or rain,

The colors can be blue or green

Or frothy brown (if not too clean.)

Sometimes a wave will get real high

Just when you thought it’d pass you by.

So, keep a weather eye out on the sea

Or find out just how cold wet can be.

Oh, you can choose to try a swim

If your favorite color’s blue.

Cause once you get your body wet

That will be your color too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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