Overhead is a beautiful blue sky. I can feel the sunshine warm my back. I think about reaching up to take off my snug fleece stocking cap but decide against it. The dark clouds are forming. I can see them just past the crashing waves.
The pressure has changed in the past few hours, I can feel it in my body. A change most would miss, but not when you live at the beach. You can feel a storm building and moving its way onshore. Some might call it ominous, not me. It’s thrilling. The first raindrops splash on my cheek. I feel the sting and then the drip as it runs down to my coat collar. I shiver and cinch my hood down a little tighter around my neck.
It’s March rain, so it will fall fast and cold. My raincoat can take it. But the wind wants its turn too and is now whipping my coat sleeves back and forth. In one quick motion I tuck my left sleeve under the edge of the glove and then do the same to the right. Yes, my gloves will be soaked by the time I get home, but the metal snaps on my coat sleeves rusted years ago and no longer snap shut. One little inconvenience in a coat that is thankfully still waterproof.
With all nooks and crannies secure, I slowly turn towards home as I watch the tourists scurry away, fleeing towards their hotel rooms. I see a few misguided and misinformed inlanders unfurl their umbrellas and I try not to laugh out loud. I remind myself they aren’t like us, they don’t plan their days with the tide book and barometer readings. They don’t know mother nature has no qualms about sending down sunshine one minute and a wind so strong it can lift you off your feet the next.
I glimpse a blue flash out of the corner of my eye. There goes the umbrella. As it tumbles past me, I quickly stomp my foot down to stop its race down the beach. Picking it up I turn to find its owner is nowhere to be seen. Another reminder they aren’t like us. Just temporary voyeurs of our fearless beautiful seascape.
Giving one last, long look to the large stony monolith standing sentinel just offshore, I see the waves powering their way through, covering the tidepools at their base with life-giving waters. All is safe once again. The wind and I are held together in a dance as it leads me off the beach with a push and then a pull. The rain is now hitting me in great sheets and running down my coat onto the tops of my thighs.
Mental note to self, no leaving the house without rain pants until St. Patrick’s Day. Turning to the access trail one huge gust smacks me hard across the cheek. Better make that Easter.
Cyndi Stuart was a field biologist and resident of Cannon Beach who coordinated the Haystack Rock Awareness Program for several years before moving to Washington. She now writes and runs an artisan farm/pottery studio full-time with her husband while devising ways to one day return to the North Oregon Coast.