Blue Heart-Andy Barker

Fiction:

Lucius is unmoored, unanchored, untethered. Nothing holding him to his life where it should be. He lies awake, alone in the dark. There’s that time, sailing with the kids in the bay. In his memory it is a hot summer day, with just enough breeze to push them slowly through the water, but not enough to bring relief from the heat.

He hears the lap, lap, lap of water on the hull, the voices of Remy and Charlotte laughing and bickering, the luffing of the mainsail with the shifting wind. Their first tack takes the boat close to the marina, past empty boats bobbing and pulling gently at their mooring buoys, facing into the breeze. Lucius notices one small boat, a vintage Boston Whaler, white hulled with faded aqua blue interior. It rocks gently like the others but points at a different angle. It is not attached to anything and the breeze has turned it 90 degrees from the wind’s direction. The little boat drifts awkwardly past the boats at anchor. Lucius points it out to the kids. They notice it is partially filled with water. A lonely blue floating swimming pool. “What will happen to it, Dad?” they ask. He knows that the southerly breeze will eventually push it beyond the marina and into the open water of the bay. He tells them that maybe the police boat will spot it, or perhaps someone in a power boat will investigate and secure it somehow.

If no one intervenes, the little boat, its blue heart facing the open sky, will move slowly to the far northern shore. It will get grounded in muddy tidal flats, nudging itself into reeds and rushes, where red-winged blackbirds call to each other, announcing their territories, ignoring the empty blue pool nestled in their midst, tipped slightly to one side in the sand. Will it completely fill up with rain water over time? Become green with algae, spotted white with bird droppings?

Lucius tells the children to prepare to tack, asks Charlotte to pull in the jib line as he steers the boat through the quiet breeze. The sails fill and they slide past the marina. The kids spot a seal in the water and forget about the lost boat.

Just as they have forgotten about him, all these years later, caught up in the business of their lives. Lucius wonders now if the remains of that boat might still be visible in the shallows of the bay, or if, perhaps, someone found it that summer and returned it to its proper place.

 

Andy Barker taught creative writing as a high school teacher before retiring a few years ago. He now spends most of his time in Manzanita where he volunteers in the Hoffman Center’s Writing Programs. His stories have appeared in journals including the North Coast Squid and Rain Magazine.

The Blue Door-Ellis Conklin

Memoir:

A couple of newspaper reporters talking, Seattle, 1994. It’s June. They’re sharing a small table by the coffee pot in the corner of the newsroom. A lemon-iced sheet cake awaits Jean, who is taking a job with our cross-town rival.

“So, anyway, you guys ought to check out this place. It’s called Manzanita,” says John.

“Where’s Manzanita?” I ask.

“Down on the Oregon coast. A little town. South of Cannon Beach. You’ll love it.”

“Never heard of it.”

“I know, no one has,” John goes on. “That’s the beauty of it. No one’s heard of it.”

“What did you and Anne do there?”

“Not much, really,” John replies. “They have a great beach. Long and sandy. And we went to this nice little French restaurant. One night, we had fish and chips out on the deck of this place. Anne thought it was great. It overlooked the bay, the Sea Shack it was called.”

Jean arrives. Cheers go up. Fake pandemonium. No one wants sheet cake, and there’s been a lot of sheet cakes in recent months, mostly for reporters going to out-of-town dailies – not to the enemy.

“She’s a good old gal,” muses John.

“I heard J.D. is madder than a riled-up snake,” I say, referring to our editor-in-chief.

“You know,” John confides, “Jean doesn’t think O.J. did it. She doesn’t even believe he was in the back of the Bronco.”

“You’re kidding,” I say, cupping a hand over my mouth in mock astonishment.”

“Serious as a heart attack.”

Two months later, we headed to Manzanita — my wife and I, and our four-month-old daughter. It was the start of a 20-year-tradition. We’d go every summer, usually late July or early August for one golden week.

Manzanita had no hold on us then, not like it does today. Our world here was small: Beach Street or Carmel. Always a first night at Marzano’s, the second on the patio of the newly-opened Left Coast, the joint we called “The Healthy Mexican Place,” and perhaps the third on the deck at the Sea Shack, where the tied up fake seagull whirled in the incoming ocean breeze.

Back then, most days were spent in the Cove, a wind-protected haven we discovered not far from a big ocean-front monstrosity built by an executive of Garden Burger, or so we were told.

My daughter grew up a little in Manzanita. She carried water back from the sea in a tiny red bucket. She made sandcastles. She rode beach bikes and horses. She boogie-boarded. She suntanned on a deck above the roaring ocean.

A wall in our old Seattle house, and now at our home in Manzanita, is devoted to the pictures we took of her each year at the beach. There are eighteen of them. If a tidal wave comes, they will be the first things I carry out.

“That’s the beauty of it,” John told me decades ago. “No one’s heard of it.”

But now they have, and my, how it has changed. Then again, so have we all.

We would arrive, my Honda Accord packed to the gills, on a late Saturday afternoon. We’d stop at Manzanita Rental and I’d have a cheery chat with Kay for awhile and grab the keys.

Then, always, we’d take our customary crawl down Laneda. For so many years, nothing changed. Nothing.

Passing the Little Apple market, my daughter would often exclaim, “Look, the door’s still blue.”

John hasn’t been here in many years. At least I don’t think he has. J.D., our old editor, is long dead and gone. Jean still writes and her copy is better than ever. She also is convinced now that O.J. did do it.

But what matters most to me is that door at the Little Apple. It’s no longer the color blue. Hasn’t been for years now. And I wish it still was.

 

Ellis is a longtime journalist who worked primarily as a political reporter at the Anchorage Times, UPI, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He retired several years ago and, after decades of vacationing on the Oregon coast, finally settled in Manzanita with his wife Lynn and Piper, their ocean-loving Australian Shepherd.

Manzanita Writers’ Series to celebrate launch of North Coast Squid 8th edition

The literary journal, featuring some of the region’s most talented writers and artists, goes on sale Oct. 1

The Hoffman Center Writing Programs will celebrate the launch of the 8th edition of the North Coast Squid journal of writing and art on Saturday, Oct. 2., from 4-5:30 p.m., with an online event sponsored by the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita. Register for this free event here.

This newest edition of the Squid literary magazine is the largest yet, with 72 pages showcasing the work of 63 writers and artists who live on the North Oregon Coast or have a strong connection to the region. The magazine, published by the Hoffman Center, includes works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction (including memoir), with all submissions selected for publication based on blind judging by noted authors and poets: Margaret Chula for poetry; Apricot Irving for nonfiction; and Deb Vanasse for fiction.

The work of 28 artists (as selected by the Squid editorial team) is also featured in the magazine. Twenty of these artists will have their work on display at the Hoffman Center Gallery through the month of October. The Gallery is open Thursday through Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

The Oct. 2 launch event will feature readings from selected authors and a video of the gallery show.

The magazine will be available for purchase at the Hoffman Center Gallery as well as retail outlets along the coast, including:

In Manzanita:

Cloud & Leaf Bookstore
Manzanita News & Espresso
Wild Manzanita Grocery & Cafe

Elsewhere:

Cannon Beach Art Gallery
Cannon Beach Book Company
Lucy’s Books in Astoria
Garibaldi Maritime Museum
Tillamook Pioneer Museum
Beach Books in Seaside
The Roost in Wheeler

The magazine sells for $10, with proceeds supporting Hoffman Center Writing Programs.

Second Annual Plant Sale Update

Second Annual Plant Sale a Big Success!

Thank you! We are happy to announce our plant sale was a success due to your enthusiasm and participation.

All proceeds support our efforts to keep the Wonder Garden a year-round place of respite and beauty.

We love supporting the well-being of our community. Thank YOU for supporting us.

Sincerely, all of us at the Hoffman and especially the 27 volunteers who keep the garden tended, weeded, watered, and beautiful.

Writers–Tell Us What You Think!

As we try to return to some semblance of normalcy, with fewer pandemic-related restrictions on our daily life, we are taking stock of our programs at the Hoffman Center for the Arts and assessing the best way to serve our community of writers.

The Writing Lounge has always been a popular component of our programming and remained vibrant over the last year with writers participating online. Looking forward, we have some decisions to make about how we’d like the Writing Lounge to look in this new era – and we need your feedback to shape those decisions.

So please take a few minutes to complete the brief survey below and provide your input. Thank you.

Start the five minute Writing Lounge Survey now.

 

Three Summers-TheresAnn Bosserman

Memoir:

  1. Roses

The light that evening slanted across the porch through the white sun blinds and between the posts of the gray porch railing in golden streams. The rare roses caught the rays of sun and glowed hues of burnt to vivid orange as she spent another gorgeous summer evening sitting in her rocking chair, contemplating her roses and the moving sunlight.

The senator sat near her, regarding her with his usual alert, intelligent face and observed the stream of neighbors passing the house.  The fun interactions were with the pedestrians who stopped to admire the roses, usually with children or dogs in tow– sometimes both.

It was a languorous, golden, serene passing of those long northern evenings filled with such rich, life-enhancing light. This light enchanted all things it touched, from the flowers to the watered emerald grass, to the heavy laden plum trees, to the exploding roses and the glistening white hydrangeas.  And the light fell on her too, warming all corners of her being with a feeling of deep connectedness, belonging and oneness.

The light reached towards the senator as he purred contentedly, and continued to swish his glossy black tail in a slow, friendly arc, regarding their friendship quietly, in certainty of common affection and the enjoyment of the bounties of a beautiful evening.

  1. FISHING

I barely remember that one fishing trip you & me went on Daddy.  I remember it was just you & me.  It was our one golden time together overnight in a pup tent, with a breakfast of orange-y pancakes with a strange tangy taste since you forgot the milk.

You tried to help me tie a fly on my line and pick a safe rock to perch on with my pole in the rushing gurgling stream. I was so awkward and scrawny with my coke bottle glasses glinting fiercely against the sun-drenched stream and my bad eye.  I couldn’t really see anything, and I didn’t catch anything, but I wanted to be with you, and to please you, and to succeed.

You were so strong, and big, and powerful, and smart.  Mommy said you came home from two wars with medals and did a bunch of dangerous stuff — spying and all.  I couldn’t even see well enough to swim or catch a fish, and the pancakes were terrible, but I wanted another fishing trip with you up by Salmonberry Creek so badly!

And all I have is that one fading 60-year-old memory of that last summer, and the knock at the door that ended it all, with Mommy falling to the floor wailing, and me falling asleep on Linda’s bed, because you and she never made it home from that farm auction.

III.  Blooming

How would I blossom?  Is it like breaking through a membrane into a greater beauty, a different knowing, a new experience?

Would it be like a butterfly breaking out of a chrysalis?

Does a caterpillar know it is metamorphosing through the seasons, into a spring butterfly?

How would I feel if I could spin myself into a cocoon, encasing my lumbering, painful body into a shell, only to awaken, seasons later, breaking through the swelling bud of my chrysalis into an unfolding butterfly?

I used to dream of flying as a child, using my human body.  As I grew, I continued to dream of flying.  But now, with the encroaching aches and pains of my older self, the dreams have stopped.

What would it feel like to bloom out of my body, and all my grief and pain, into a beautiful, delicate, lacy butterfly, perhaps as my favorite blue copper here in the valley?  Oh how glorious it would be to soar weightlessly on the summer breeze and flit from sunlit flower to vine ripened berries!  Color and scent, nectar and pollen embracing me in such an evanescent, shimmering season of blessed fulfillment.

 

Bio: I love the north Oregon coast and have vacationed here for many years. I have a home here and have been full time at the beach here in Rockaway since Covid arrived. I walk the beach in all seasons. I never tire of the magnificent sea.

 

 

Mr. Hobo Risin’-Tom Lackaff

Memoir:

The first time you jump on a moving train, it feels like flying.

Many of the elements of flight are there: steady forward motion, exhilarating wind in your face, the world zipping by below you. Adding to the illusion, in my case, was crossing a towering train trestle almost immediately after hopping on board the westbound Union Pacific out of Spokane in June, 1994.

I had just graduated from high school and was feeling my oats. A lifelong train nut, I spent a great deal of time on the elevated railway running through downtown Spokane. Eventually, I dared to jump on a train as it lumbered through town, riding for a few blocks before jumping off in giddy, rebellious ecstasy.

Before long, the short hops became as casual as catching a bus, and I needed a bigger hit. I found it when I saw the perfect score: four big yellow engines hooked to a mile-long train, waiting its turn at a stoplight. The patient giant pointed west across the Latah Creek Bridge, a massive span towering 200 feet above its namesake. As the four iron horses began to whinny in four-part harmony, spewing hot diesel exhaust skyward like jet engines repurposed for terrestrial toil, I saw my chance for adventure start to slip away. Suddenly seized by a sense of purpose I had yet to encounter in my 17 years on Earth, I ran up the gravel hill, grabbed an iron handhold and hopped on a hopper car.

The initial high was substantial, keeping me buoyed for hours as the train chased the sun west across the channeled scablands of Eastern Washington. I barely noticed the deafening noise or the relentless wind—it was all part of the deliriously novel experience.

As the lengthening shadows gave way to twilight, however, the novelty started to wear off a little bit. When I jumped on, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, standard issue gear for a sere and searing Spokane summer. As night fell, however, the wind chill created by the train’s 70 mph speed no long felt like summer.

In daylight, I recognized enough landmarks to have a general idea where I was. As night fell, not so much. With no clue where I was, it got colder and colder. I tucked my arms inside my t-shirt and curled up in something of a seated fetal position.

Sometime before dawn, the train just stopped. No fanfare, no parade, nothing—it just eased up by a field and stopped. Shaking from the cold and bleary-eyed, I unfurled my stiff legs and hopped to the ground, trying to stay out of sight from the engineers, brakemen, and other would-be captors.

I scampered along a dirt road by a field like a rabbit, finally running into to a real road. Feeling less paranoid but still weary and bleary, I ambled along until I hit Highway 395 near Hermiston. Only then did I realize how screwed I was. Hermiston is in Oregon, a three-hour drive from my poor worried mother in Spokane, Washington.

To get home, I would have to revive another long-lost art: hitchhiking. Positioning myself on the shoulder of the northbound highway, I gamely stuck my thumb out like I had seen in the movies. To my amazement, a pickup truck stopped. A group of young Deadheads, they were headed to Seattle for what turned out to be the Grateful Dead’s penultimate summer tour. The only trouble was they were headed toward Ellensburg, adequately north but several hours too far east. Still feeling adventurous, I rolled the dice and hopped in, soon exhaustedly nodding off to the pleasantly ordered chaos of Jerry Garcia’s guitar.

When this sunshine daydream inevitably came to an end, I was more or less back where I started, only standing beside a much bigger highway: I-90, my hopeful ticket home. Again, to my surprise, my thumb nabbed a ride, this time a middle-aged man in a van (I know, red flags). Luckily, he was a cool dude who used to hitchhike and was glad to repay the karmic favor. We talked about music the whole way back to Spokane, he proselytizing for Jethro Tull and Deep Purple, and I campaigning vigorously for Ice Cube.

Before I knew it, I was back in Spokane. I don’t remember if I told my mom the truth about the trip (I like to think I called from the road with a cover story), but I sure as heck couldn’t wait to brag to my friends about my adventure. I stumbled the familiar walk home from the train tracks like the strung-out hobo I would imitate for years afterward. Unlike this stereotypical hobo, however, my addiction was not drugs or alcohol, but to the trains themselves—my preferred mode of flight.

 

Bio: I was lucky enough to be born in Oregon. Some of my earliest memories are of frolicking on Cannon Beach, Short Sands and a litany of local littoral locations. My father has lived here for over half of my life, and consequently I have grown quite connected to the area.

 

59 Days, 21 States-Laura E. Bailey

Memoir:

There is a logic, a rhythm, to a well-executed road trip.  I’ve been planning this one for years, a manila folder the repository of scraps of paper with scribbled recommendations, ideas torn from magazines, notes on places mentioned on the radio, all building blocks for the I’m-no-longer-tethered-to-a-job road trip.  My core skills are first-rate, veteran of two decades of family road trips evenly distributed between national-park-or-bust vacations and Army-family moving from post to post.  And as I hurtle toward my six-decade milestone, the notion of a long meander across the country, just me and the dog, no flights to catch, no ticking clock inside me pushing to squeeze every possible activity into every available moment … seemed the perfect centerpiece for my 2020 plans.

And then.

Yeah, well.

The upside-down-ness of the world made the open road beckon more seductively in 2021, though I’d need to modify some plans.  Spontaneous nights in crowded bars listening to local bands? Nope.  Sojourn through the most politically polarized counties on my own personal unity tour? Maybe 2022. Lesser-known national parks, county roads, obscure historical and cultural sights, tiny regional museums dedicated to whatever took someone’s fancy?  Absolutely.  Books on Audible, abundant playlists on iTunes, paper maps and Google maps uneasy partners in the role of navigator.  And a dog whose spring bouts of carsickness and automobile anxiety turned out to be 100% cured when I let him ride shotgun.  Off we go, to meander, to race, to roam.

Along the way, thrumming under the sweeping vistas and quick-pull-over moments, is a fragile sense of pilgrimage, as the trip becomes as much about connection as about freedom.  Friendly chats six feet apart across a gasoline pump were the antidote to my expectations of cold shoulders or hostile glances when my liberally bumper-stickered 23-year old Subaru rolled up on red state SUVs with The Other Guy’s slogans. Grocery store cashiers and AirBnB hosts with in-the-know recommendations for singing canyon hikes and tasty hyperlocal food trucks (Boulder, Utah) or the best chocolate silk pie in the lower 48 (Elk, Oklahoma).  Conversations with my younger self, on the lawn of the Kansas high school where I graduated 40+ years ago, and with my ancestors, on the banks of the Yellowstone where five generations ago women and men pioneered. Mostly, and most importantly, the tear-inducing sweetness of touch, skin on skin with the more than two dozen family and friends who I am able to fling my fully vaccinated arms around, and squeeze.

After weeks of reuniting and reconnecting, back on the road for the northerly route westward and home.  Long morning shadows dance ahead of the car as we swoop along curving country lanes, the rising sun at our backs.  Mid-day record-breaking heat drives me to the nearest green space as respite after every fuel stop, the dog and I both thirsty not only for water but for the feel of grass under our feet, vulnerable and tender as humans pay a fraction of the penalty due us for our disregard of the planet.  Hours exploring wildflower meadows and mountains raucous with life.

Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana. Miles and miles with no one else on the road, and then, as other vehicles approach—mostly local, mostly trucks, in this world of ranches and farms and tiny towns—I remember where I am, and without thought my hand lifts off the steering wheel. Sometimes the whole hand, maybe two fingers, sometimes just one.  Always, a greeting.

Hello there. It’s summer, and it’s good to see your face.

 

Laura E. Bailey is a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, and is a happily active member of the volunteer team at the Hoffman Center for the Arts who believes that Manzanita is a magical place for a writer. Laura is currently at work on a novel that grew out of a Hoffman workshop.

Along the Way-Gary Albright

Memoir:  Jim and I had been canoeing through Canada for years and, in fact, Jim had been doing so since he was a child.  Every trip to Canada was precious, and the past only encouraged more of the wonder that has always been Canada to us.  Jim planned the trips, bought the supplies, and organized the logistics.  My contribution was basically to build fires and decide which way was North.

Somewhere in our travels, Jim had landed on a map that claimed the Missinaibi River was the last undammed voyageur river to the James Bay.  In order to avoid waiting until this river was developed, we decided we should go soon.  Late that summer, we did just that.

We drove North and East in Ontario to the town of Mattice.   We stayed for the night, and left the next morning.  We dropped our canoe with our gear in it into the river at the edge of town, and the current took us North.  It was warm, beautiful, and still.  Small rapids propelled us forward with minimum paddling or corrections.

By afternoon, we decided that this seemed to be an easy trip.   As we were discussing this, a sudden wind spun our canoe around, and then we were going backwards.   We corrected and then waves of rain began to fill our canoe.  The sound of both wind and rain was deafening.  We paddled for hours, but ceased to make any real progress as the wind and rain gained strength.

We began searching for a campsite.  Such sites are rare, and both sides of the river have small and densely joined spruce and birch.  There is almost nowhere to land.  Based on river flow and direction, Jim found what might be a campsite on the East bank named Isabel.  We ran ashore, and began looking for a clear spot for the night.  Jim and I blundered among the tightly woven trees, got separated, found each other again, and then found the campsite.  It was under water.

We secured the canoe and pitched our tent at the edge of the clearing just above the water line.  Finally, as nightfall arrived, we decided we should make a fire.  Because the rain continued to pound, Jim assembled his seveya to see if we could start a fire with white gas.  But the seveya would only flame gas rather than mist the gas for a fire.  A part was missing.  We fooled around with the stove for awhile, ate some M&Ms, and went to sleep.  Before we gave it up for the day, Jim pointed out that if this was an easy trip, everyone would do it.  Further, Jim found hope in the wind and rain because still, dry weather brings out literally millions of mosquitoes.  By morning, our tent and sleeping bags were in several inches of water.  All of our gear was soaked.  We dressed in soggy clothes and I went in search of any firewood.  In a little while, in an outcrop of tree roots, I found birch bark and some kindling.

The rain continued.

As I carried the firewood back to our campsite, I saw Jim outside the tent standing in shallow water.   He had given up on the seveya, and was now trying to light the gasoline in the fuel container.  Initially, I could see blasts of fire as Jim adjusted the nozzle and flow.  Then it seemed that the nozzle was open too far as a large and long flame of white gas shot into the air.  Jim simply realized that holding this canister of gas was not a great idea, and now he had to get rid of it.  His next move was one I would have never guessed. He gently tossed the flaming canister about two feet into the air, and, as it started to fall, he drop-punted it high into the air.  The canister spun end over end.  When it landed about 30 feet from our campsite, the flame of gas spread across the flooded site that was Isabel. For a while, the flames moved around the little lake, and Jim and I were simply witnesses.

When the fire finally died, I dropped the firewood.  We simply pulled the tent pegs, piled all our gear and the tent into a single soaked pile in the canoe, and set off paddling North.  Over the next week, we paddled 200 kilometers North to the village of Moosinee on the James Bay.  The weather improved, and three days later most of our gear dried next to campfires.  We had a wonderful trip, and we have told endless tales of the Missinaibi to anyone willing to listen.

Because the best part of these ever-growing tales is that the only witnesses are the fools telling the tale.

 

Gary has lived in Barview for 20 years and it is his favorite place in the world. He has travelled over much of the world with his favorite person, Carla. Together they spend a great deal of time with their dog Emily. She is not a good dog, but someday they hope she will be a great dog.

Summertime-Gail B. Frank

Essay:

Summertime and the livinis easy. So the song from Porgy and Bess goes. Even though most of us, like school kids, consider those bookends of Memorial Day and Labor Day to contain summer, the first day actually begins on the Solstice around June 21.

For those on the Oregon coast, summer brings people, lots and lots of people and lots of business. For others, it brings crowds, a hard time finding a place to park and a longer wait at stop signs. Regardless of how one feels about it, it’s hard to pass up the sheer beauty of summer on the Oregon coast. There’s nothing like a sun-splashed summer day when the ocean sparkles beneath a brilliant blue sky and everything in the natural world seems as if it’s been freshly washed. The hard work folks put into their gardens in the spring pays off with brilliant blooms. The wool socks come off and the sandals come out as everyone heads outside to eat.

As a student and then a teacher for many years, my life revolved around the school calendar with summer long-awaited for its endless possibilities. By the 4th of July, it seems summer is half over, and it’s time to cram in whatever one can before “real” life begins again in the fall.

People used to tell me, “As a teacher, it must be nice to have the summer off.” There is nothing “off” about it. The first month, most teachers are in a catatonic state trying to recover from the school year. The second month is vacation time and all those fun activities for the family. The third month is getting the kids new underwear and school supplies and planning bulletin boards and attending  in-service teacher training for a bright new school year. The euphoria of that dream lasts until about Thanksgiving and then every teacher and student is counting the days until summer comes again.

For me, a child of the 50’s, growing up in a small town in Michigan,  summer meant riding my one-speed bike to Huron River Park with a baloney sandwich wrapped in wax paper squished into the wicker bike basket. Paired with a ten-cent bottle of Coca-Cola from Sinclair’s Gas station, I was in heaven. There was no such thing as pizza, unless you counted Chef Boyardee made from a box.  And certainly there was no pizza delivery. The A & W drive-in, at the edge of town was a favorite hangout. Girls on roller skates brought Coney dogs and ice-cold mugs of root beer to the car window.

Summer was a time of hopscotch, Red Rover, Jacks, and Hula- Hoops. It was a time of June bugs flitting around the porch light at night and the sounds of crickets. It was fireflies in a mason jar and an ice cream cone from Joe LaRosa’s on a warm summer night. It was a time of magic, a time to picnic in the back yard, pick raspberries or sleep on the screened-in porch. Always playing outside, we kids drank water from the garden hose, played softball until dark and got excited when the fire hydrant was flushed and we could play in the puddles.

At the beach on the Oregon coast, a friend remarked, “Everyone here becomes a kid again.” She’s right. Children and adults alike play in the ocean, jump the waves, and squeal in delight if one catches them. Most people are continually bent over investigating what they have found on the sand, perhaps a jelly fish or an almost whole sand dollar.  Others throw sticks for their dogs or play ball or create a sandcastle with a child or grandchild. Smells of hot dogs and burgers on the grill mix with the fresh salt air of the mighty Pacific. People arrive at the beach laden with coolers, lawn chairs, kites, frisbees and blankets.

On the Nehalem River, kayakers paddle quietly at dusk as the cormorants come in to roost.  Fishermen drift along the river hoping for one last catch.

And there’s always that gorgeous hike up Neahkahnie Mountain, often translated as “the place of the god,” with its spectacular view of Manzanita and the coast. One can top off their hike on a Friday evening with a trip to the Farmer’s Market for a fresh bouquet of flowers and peaches, maybe some smoked salmon.

It’s hard to not find something appealing to one’s sense of summertime. Or maybe all you want to do is lie in the hammock, read a good book, and let the garden grow. It’s all here. The fish are jumpin’. It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

 

For more than 20 years, Gail Frank lived in Nehalem, wrote a column for the North Coast Citizen on the joys of life in a small town and taught writing workshops. She now lives in Arizona, but spends summers on the Oregon Coast where she says her heart resides.