Spring

While all caught up in moments, season’s change.  We watch them through the windows of our homes, cars and places of work, but until you get outside and walk in them frequently you don’t really experience what all of the seasonal days have to offer.

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Hello!  Spring was aptly named-all of a sudden, one day, there it is!  Plants awaken with… birds singing the praises of its arrival.  Some years our spring sneaks in early, at the mercy of winter.  Bulbs defiantly peak up in various yard borders, returning the favor of past work, giving a hint of color and brighter days to come.  If looked at closely enough, buds appear on dormant trees showing signs of waking up, some flashing peaks of pink and white flowers.  Soon these trees will make a scented canopy over some sidewalks.  Lawns begin to wake up and grow erratically, with some darker green fertilized spots.  Unfortunately this growth brings about the noisy season of the obnoxious grass cutting and mechanized yard maintenance machines.

it is about Freedom…

It came to me that it is not about Closure, it is Freedom, for her.

Perhaps I do not heal like others, or at all.

Heavy words like Loss are supposed to be followed by the equally heavy Closure in some kind of weight transfer on an invisible set of scales.

I cannot embrace Closure, but her Spirit deserves Freedom.

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This is what I wrote early Saturday morning.  I then poured some of Sarrah’s Ashes on the paper and carefully folded it.

Saturday March First Two Thousand Fourteen I walked alone down to the beach for a sunny solitary moment with the 0.9 low tide and ocean breeze.

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A lone seagull showed up and quietly watched and waited with me for waves to come and wash over.

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Sarrah loved it near the dunes so I’d planned to release some of her ashes here and found a surprise (a gift) near our usual trail end.  A driftwood bench has appeared since my last visit, so I put some near it.

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I sat on the bench to enjoy the view and absorb the moment.

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When I got up to leave an Eagle appeared on the beach and stood guard.

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Success

Time proved to us that we had achieved success.  We found the kind of place that you dread leaving.  Where that last day starts with a quiet ache and as other people leave, a somber tone increasingly takes over.  When afternoon breaks taken from the bustle of packing and cleaning, have a sad coating.  Where your mind reflects on the latest stay, dips into the past memories and shuffles them all together.  You start to sneak looks forward, plotting the next escape.  Sarrah had a somber demeanor as she watched the ritualistic events of the last day; she quickly recognized the patterns and knew that the trip was near its end.  You know it is good, when it hurts to leave.

To me a big part of this day is the last walk; Every trip has a last walk, to the beach.  Preferably as close to departure back to reality, as possible.  Usually, taken after most people have gone, giving way to greater observation in solitude.  Along the way small things seem different.  The weathered chairs of wood, quietly stare back at you, as if waiting.  Shuttered empty houses look lonelier.  Even the sea birds seem a little forlorn.

Somehow the ocean sounds different, on the last walk.  The constant roar sounds more like a lonely, resonating hollow moan as if to be saying, “Don’t go…”, maybe “Farewell…”, or perhaps “Happy Trails…”.  I feel and absorb this more every ‘Last Time’.  On these walks, the ocean smells more like a salty tear soaked kiss.  I occasionally wonder… Does the ocean miss us when we are gone?  Will it miss me, after I have gone?

In the joy killing spirit of ‘Tomorrow is promised to No One’ you never know when the actual last walk, may be.  I do not allow myself to dwell on this heavy finality, too much.  But I do make an extra effort to savor all moments… of each, last one.

Unwanted Gifts

Sarrah, Nissa and I explored the roads, trails, miles of beach and rolling dunes.  We never tired of these journeys and the ever-changing collection of treasure discovered along the way.  The ocean constantly changes the beach and gives back an endless amount of debris from the land.  Some storms take away sand, others bring it back and then some.  Those that come in the winter pile up logs and other assorted remains washed down streams.

Sadly, not all is wonderful. The ocean is always giving back the unwanted gifts of the human experience, garbage.  I began to collect these ugly bits of proof and pieces of disrespect.  The more we looked, the more we found and brought back with us.  I began to take ownership, understanding what is called “stewardship” and feel like this was ‘our beach’ and wondered why so many other people were just walking past these ‘treasures’, do they not see the garbage?  All of this reminds of when I was a kid in the early seventies, there was a television commercial with a stoic, once proud American Indian, standing with a tear in his eye watching garbage come to shore in the waves.  Perhaps time has come to replay it for those who missed the message and do not recall pride.  Or maybe a newer version to make us more aware of the long term affects of mishandling things like plastic.  Regardless of the cause of garbage turned into litter in the wild, it belongs to all of us and it is not ok for me to walk on by.

Sand

Aside from the Ocean, the obvious main ingredient of this long beach is sand.  Unlike the mostly barnacle covered rocky beaches of the Puget Sound, near home, this beach is sandy, miles… of fine tan-grey colored sand.  Depending on the tide there is about twenty to one hundred yards of beach from the edge of the grass-covered dunes to the changing ocean line.  Here the ocean licks the sand, packing it into a high-speed surface, making for a smooth run near the edge.  Or where as Sarrah preferred it, sand piled loosely by the wind, storms and high tides up against the dunes where the grass grows and waves like wheat fields; catching the blowing sand into thick, fluffy unstable drifts for jumping and plowing through.

Sand is magical; it brings out playfulness in a dog, youth in the old and delight in a kid.  Sand does not care how careful you are, it will get into everything.  These little bits of ancient rock ground in the waves, spread by the wind, over time will get between your toes and everywhere else.  Sarrah loved it!  She did her part to share it.  It seemed no matter how well I wiped her feet, she somehow smuggled some in.

Beach House

Sarrah delighted in all aspects of going to the Peninsula.  She usually sat up and looked out the windows the entire way there, to watch the world as it went on by.  The journey from where we live starts with on average an hour of ‘freeway hell’, racing with the self absorbed rats on the paved necessary ugliness, known as Interstate 5.  Then off onto Highway 101 where it gradually devolves from too much civilization and overpopulation into a sort of peaceful time travel back through the woods and near a few old small towns, too tough to die.  This leg of the journey is packed with many little things that busy people miss or find “boring”.  These things like mountains, forested land, rivers, cattle, wildlife; deer, coyotes, porcupines, elk, eagles, hawks and even bears were all noticed and points of interest mentally noted by my road wise companion.

Another perk around this area is the constant salted air and its medicinal affects.  We knew it when we first explored Ocean Park and what remains of the historic town of Oysterville at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula, this was the place.  We came back a couple of times and narrowed the search to a community named Surfside Estates with a few rules (Covenants, Codes & Restrictions) to protect values from individual expressions.  This little development of Two Thousand Eight Hundred subdivided lots is comprised of; about one-third with houses (mostly vacation, several retirement), one-quarter “seasonal camper lots” and the rest vacant, overgrown with dune grass and coastal pines.  The community has approximately three miles of beachfront and a small lake (pond) with long canals that run the length of it.  There are walking trails running East to West with foot bridges over the canals, creating easy access for all “members and guests” to the beach which extends as far as the eye can see… to the South and North.

We quickly found the one, close enough to the ocean to hear its methodical constant mumbling and an easy walk away.  It was new enough to not only become a dreaded nest of repair projects.  A cozy little two-bedroom house that would be greatly appreciated as-is, customized over time into “our place” and enjoyed along the journey through time.

September Two Thousand Five Nissa closed the deal, and we came out for our first three-day weekend and camped with Sarrah, in the empty one-year-old house.  On this stay we personalized it by painting the garage floor, making it into more of a warm multipurpose room.  This tan coating also has its share of the ever-present small black and white hairs permanently sealed into it.

Sarrah instantly liked the new little house and it quickly became her preferred home.  She was delighted with being able to roam the whole place and sleep closer to me.  Upon each arrival and inspection of the Beach House, her toys and the yard she would relax on her overstuffed bed and smile.

As a group we decided that the best spot for Sarrah’s bed was next to the sliding glass door, on the east end of the Great room.  This gave a comfortable vantage point to guard the front door, see all that went on in the house and watch out for wildlife trespassers as they regularly strolled through ‘her yard’.  One of the best perks of this spot was the morning sunshine, perfect for soaking up a little bright warmth.

Learning

Learning when it was “OK” to chase them provided a bit of a twisted pleasure.  The first of many times when a one year old cat would ‘takeover her bed’ she’d sadly slink off.  I carefully let her know that it was OK to send a thieving cat packing… with a bark or a quick chase.

Mothering instincts kicked in with Sarrah when the siblings fought, mostly protecting Isis from the bullying of Rah.  Sarrah grew into a sort of parenting referee role, barking at them and chasing Rah off, then returning to where she’d been with a look of satisfaction.  Isis, the significantly smarter of the two, picked up on all of this and bonded with Sarrah.  She even occasionally set Rah up by starting a fight, for Sarrah to break up.  It was probably also a bit of aged preference for quiet and frustration with frequent noisy youth that motivated her.

Sarrah delighted in sending the male cat, Rah for a run.  The two of them seemed to have a bit of an understanding, a few rules with their game and played it often.  Rah, around two years old, learned how fast he was and how much head start was required for a good chase without getting caught.  He then decided to play with Sarrah’s tail, to start trouble.  Most of these neener-neener games happened in the seclusion of the backyard.  The game evolved from Sarrah looking at me to see if she would be in trouble and Rah figuring out how many swipes at her tail it took to get in a good run, becoming their regular contest.

One sunny spring day Rah pushed his luck too far, attacking her sleeping tail with full claws and the chase was on.  This time he, being a little more cocky than usual, got off to a slower start and Sarrah’s quick snap got a bit of ‘butt fur’, much to the surprise of all!  After the chase, she returned with a smug look of satisfaction, spit out the chunk of black fur and resumed her position on her bed in the sun with the trophy.  Rah returned after a few moments and all was back to ‘normal’.  Sarrah smiled, I laughed and Rah just brushed it off, playing it cool.  It was good to witness Sarrah winning one of these challenges; after all only Rah’s pride was hurt, a little.

The addition of the kittens to our family was another gift.  Sarrah inadvertently absorbed some of the youthful energy that showed up with them.  Thankfully the feline chaos that spiced our daily life actually benefitted all of us, especially my tiring friend.