This week, temps hung around in the 50s. There were a few cloudy days, but the sun persists this Winter on the Oregon Coast. The wonder of so many beautiful Winter days has some people worrying about the Spring and Summer, if we’ve had so little rain here. From what I’ve gathered, that rain the Northwest is famous for is very necessary to avoid dangerously dry Summers that could produce forest fires and trouble for farmers. But nothing I can do in the short term will bring rain here, so I guess I’m stuck enjoying gorgeous ocean days.
I’m a runner. I’ve been a distance runner since I was 16, trying desperately to get in the type of shape that would compensate for my short stature and maybe earn me a spot on the high school basketball team. I ran 5 miles from the home where I grew up just inside Hardeman County Tennessee. I’d run to Big Spring Methodist Church in Deanburg, a country church with a fenced in cemetery. I ran gravel backroads that passed through some dense forest, past an unofficial dump site where vultures hung out.
The joy of a long run is that your body eventually goes into autopilot with just a little consistency, and your brain is free to go to many different places. You go into your own little alternate universe. You’re still in the same world, you just see it differently. You become a little more animal, you’re moving through time, not trying to slow it down or master it. The voices in your head aren’t trying to keep up with tasks and deadlines and obligations. The voices just say, Go. Go. Go.
When I go through stretches without running I find that I forget more of each day, I’m less awake through the whole day. I spiral into less and less activity, more mindless screen time spent looking for something I don’t find. Transitions are times where I typically fall into the inactivity trap, so a giant move across country certainly qualifies for a period of stagnancy.
This week has been marked by several above average sunset days. Clouds have hung around in on the horizon as the sun drops, producing so many warm colors. This place is a driving hazard, because it is so tempting to look in one direction to the ocean and in the other to mountains. I’ve found myself pulling over on the side of the road just about every time I get out and drive, because I feel like it would be blasphemy to focus on the road with scenery like that out the side window, but that focus on the road is sort of important.
On Sunday, I drove up to Warrentown to get a dimmer switch for my living room. I had just finished a weekend of hosting and we had yet another day of sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60s. I planned to have dinner and a good local place and catch sunset at Cannon Beach on the way home. I stopped at the Seaside Brewing Company. As I got in my car after dinner, the light was waning and the sky was starting to change. I knew I had timed it perfectly. I parked my car and took off jogging onto the beach, not for exercise, but out of pure excitement to see the giant Haystack Rock there on the beach as the sky turned from pink to orange to purple to lavender to gray then dark. Bonfires were firing up all around, and I looked around me, the large rocks in the oceans, the sounds of waves, the sky turning to night. I was there. I was seeing it all. It was part mine.
Earlier in the week, I went for a run down to Twin Rocks. It was another great sunset. I took a break at Twin Rocks at a point where a creek meets up with the beach and deltas out into the waves. A huge group of seagulls gathered where the delta met the ocean and squawked at each other. I looked all around at the oceans, the green mountains, silhouettes in the darkening distance. On my way back, I passed someone sprinting straight out to the ocean’s edge from the beach as a friend stood and watched. As I approached my end point, I felt this urge to run to the edge of the surf as well. It was low tide and the beach stretched out so far. The light was just barely on the horizon and I chased it to the edge. As I neared the water, this joyous feeling told me to spin around with my arms out. There I was spinning like a dork by the ocean as colors faded from the sky. I was in an alternate universe that seemed to make so much more sense. I looked up to see the group of seagulls passing just over my head. We had both decided to fly.