Monthly Archives: July 2011
The beach here on the Oregon Coast repeatedly demonstrates the circle of life. Since our arrival two months ago, the tide has cast ashore carcasses of a sea lion, harbor seal, sturgeon and sting ray. After the initial shock of seeing the carcass of a favorite marine animal, I do my best to accept “what is” — the continuous, miraculous cycle of birth, death and regeneration.
The bird prints in the photo were left by vultures fulfilling their natural purpose — cleaning up the environment — while getting nourishment. The select pieces of a creature (eyes, innards) go first. Then over many weeks the rest is eaten or used for other purposes. Everything eventually gets recycled, from sea lion hair used for nests to bones crumbling into fine particles, adding to the sand.
Other places may have personnel who carry away the carcasses. But Oregon has the policy of letting nature take its course. Although the carcasses are sad sights, when I study them, I grasp and retain the marine animals’ traits so much better than by looking at a photo or reading a description. I’ve seen firsthand the key distinctions between sea lions from seals and remember them. (For one thing, sea lions have ear lobes. )
As the summer rolls on, the tide will keep adding new specimens to my natural classroom. I’ll feel a twinge of sadness each time, I’m sure — and then I’ll accept “what is” — the miraculous circle of life.
Cape Sebastian juts into the ocean a few miles from “our beach” here at Turtle Rock RV Resort, catching my attention every time I look south.
Curious about the view from the cape, we drove to the overlook and set out on the coastal trail. The path wound through a thick forest of Sitka spuce trees to a magnificent view of the coast.
Aha! In the distance, I spotted the monolith that stands off shore on our stretch of beach.
A few days later, when the wind calmed down and the sun warmed the sand, I walked on the beach as far south as I could without having to swim — to the cliff just north of Cape Sebastian. (It’s the point jutting out in the top photo.) Within a few minutes, Sonya and I had the beach to ourselves. The day even became toasty, a first this summer.
Distances are deceptive on a beach. The point always looked like it was just 10 minutes away! And the soft sand turned every step into two, slowing me down. My round trip beach-combing expedition took 4 hours — and I loved every moment!