Monday, August 4, 2014

Sandy Toes

Beach at the end of the trail from Waxmyrtle campground
(adjacent to our Lagoon campground), Siltcoos
Recreational Area, Oregon Coast
It was supposed to be a three-quarter mile hike.  Just down to the beach for a “look see.”  The trail took us along the river and behind other camper’s sites.  We climbed large steps made of railroad ties and sand.  What looked like a branch of the trail was cordoned off to protect the plover.

Then we came to a crossroad, indicating that the beach was now another three-quarter mile trek down a sandy avenue traversed by vehicles, bipeds, and small creatures that darted from under foliage.

Deep dry sand makes for labored walking and in my case, labored breathing.  Up and down the terrain we kept walking towards our goal.  Along the way we were observant guests to Great Blue Heron, plover, squirrel, and the wet lands.

After a final climb upward, the ocean greeted us with a thunderous welcome.  Cautioned against being on dry sand because of the nesting plover, we made a direct route to the water. I stood with child-like delight watching the water withdraw and advance.  As the tidal waters rose, I giggled and squealed, racing away from the icy, wet onslaught.

Once we had our fill of ocean watching, we hoped to find a less arduous path back to camp. We trudged down the shore, certain that there was another trail. We tried to balance between keeping enough distance from the encroaching Pacific and honoring the dry sand domain of the shore birds.  After half of a mile, we came up to the river which blocked our progress.  Forbidding signs warned us not to walk along the river, which seemed to lead back to camp, because it was the territory of plover.  The clear waters were obviously too deep and too wide for a safe crossing.  We reversed course.

Back along the shore, picking up perfect clam shells and flat, water-worn stones, we noted how far the ocean had advanced.  The mysteries of lunar pull fascinated me. Fascinated or not, I began to be anxious for my camp site and rest.

We arrived back at our entry point to the beach.  With the daunting  trail before us, I decided to forgo my shoes, assigning my bare feet the task of navigating the endless sand.  White sand, warm but not hot, buried my toes with each step.  Twigs, grass, and broken shells drew my attention to each foot fall.  The afternoon sun heated my back, and I was glad for stretches of the cool sand in the sporadic shady spots.  My toes dug for purchase up the hills.  My feet “slapped” the ground on level turf.  Up and down. Step by step.

I couldn’t remember the last time I spent so much time with my feet in the sand.  Last year on the beach in Lincoln City, I buried my feet for a short time while Tim investigated tide pools. When the children were little, we vacationed on the hot white sand in Florida where I believe they buried my legs.  Of course I spent countless hours in my sand box as a child when I’m sure I dug in with my toes.  Never in my memory, have I journeyed so long on shifting sands.

Pausing now and then to catch my breath I reflected that life is much like these dunes along the beach.  Things constantly change in life.  Up and down in never ending waves of emotions.  We trudge through the things in life that are hard because we have to keep going.  The wind blows, sending shutters right through us and covering up our tracks as some of the insignificant stuff in life fades from our memory.  

home sweet home
There was a time in my life when I didn’t care - didn’t care if a lived or died and probably would have opted for the latter if I had a choice.  But struggling through the sand in bare feet, I realized how much I have enjoyed my life - even the tall, deep dune parts.  I loved my kids as babies, as children, as teens, and now as adults.  I rejoice with them as they mark the events in their life.  I have a life partner who knows me inside and out after 35 years, but with whom we continue to discover different dimensions in ourselves and each other.

Walking in deep sand is hard.  Life is hard.  With the right companions, we always make it back home.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.  Psalm 146:2

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