Monday, December 04, 2006

Ah Wilderness! (Or, This Old House!)

This is the wild, rugged, and beautiful north Oregon coast; for those of you who don't know the west coast, vistas such as this stretch from Astoria all the way down to southern California. Somewhere nestled in these hills and mountains in the above picture, about 600 yards from the beach, is this . . .



In 1973 my father had a friend who fell ill and wanted to unload an old beach house he had started to fix up. The house was built in 1942 and at the time looked like this (the picture was taken in 1983, but hadn't changed much in 10 years).

At the time this was the view from the house . . .



though it has changed. The little house in front of them burned down a few years ago (it belonged to a doctor from Portland and was a vacation property - fortunately no one was hurt), and they rebuilt, but on the lot to the right. So there is slightly (though only slightly) less of the northern Pacific in view of the house.

This is my mother on the ocean side of the house in the late 1980s . . .



In late spring early summer of 1987 my parents, who had been both laid off due to company closures and other factors, moved down to the coast for good until this year, when age and illness forced them to move nearer to my sister. HE is now the owner of the house (which he took over to help his parents financially). In the mid 1980s they were in their early 60s. They took some savings and added on to the street side of the house (a bedroom and utlity room, as well as a detached garage). This was the result . . .



My mother and father did some fairly nice landscaping on the place over the years, and it's fair to say that my mother had an addicition to gardening and flowers, both of which I share . . .



Below is a rather poor picture of the mainstreet of downtown Cannon Beach. In the 1970s it was a rustic hippie hang-out. I remember it consisted of The Keg Room, Bill's Tavern, the Cannon Beach Bakery (renowned for its Haystack Bread), Bruce's Candy Kitchen, Lotus Land, a handfull of seafood restaurants, the Sandpiper Souvenir Shop, a gas station, a hardware store, and a few hotels and cabins. Its population was 850, but in the past 30 years it's boomed to a whopping 1250. Almost all the original shops are still there. It has maintained its rustic, pioneer style buildings, and strict zoning laws maintain both its sceneic beauty, and its rustic charm. There are no corporate chain stores allowed, with the exception of the local bank, so each business is locally owned and run. My parents' house is about three miles south of town, so on busy beach weekends (such as the big sandcastle contest in late June) when the town may swell to 30-50,000, the house is usually dead quiet - except for the roar of the Pacific.

A block and a half down from my parents' house you come to this . . .

. . . and a little further south are these . . .


The above photo was taken on a cold January night. HE grew up playing on these very rocks, and exploring (and sometimes jabbing) the various sea creatures that live on them - which may explain why I came very close to going into the sciences instead of Classics, and why I went through a very long "marine biology" stage (in addition to my youthful flirtation with dinosaurs!)

Sunsets can be quite spectacular over the Pacific . . .



. . . and the Amazon is not the only place with old growth rain forest. The North Oregon Coast consist largely of virgin forest, where you walk past trees that have existed since the discovery of the continent, with thick layers of green everywhere.


They do not call it the sunset west . . .

for nothing; the place is at its most dramatic during December storms and sunny summer evenings when the golden glow of the sun pervades the wind swept barren trees and your spirit . . .


On the whole, it is a good place for a classicist, since classicists are often people in desperate need of perspective. So, some perspective. This place is for everyone's enjoyment. It was here and it was beautiful the day that the first native American and the day that Lewis and Clark first laid eyes upon it . . .


. . . it was here when Caesar slaughtered the Eburones, when Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, when men killed one another on the Somme, when the Babylonians built the first Zigarat, when the first human realized that a seed put in the ground could yield a steady supply of bread, when Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt, when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, when Jesus broke bread with his disciples, when Pliny mused with what statues to decorate his villa. This place has always been here . . .


. . . and it will still be here when all those things are done and forgotten, when we are no more, both as individuals and as a species. So take some friendly advice, and come with me, pour a class of wine that the sunrise sides of these hills produce in great abundance, and soak in some perspective for a little while.

HE

2 Comments:

Blogger Glauk├┤pis said...

Those are absolutely gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing!

And I think everyone has flirtations with dinosaurs and marine biology--or at least I did.

Classics also seems to gather more people with an interest in science or who almost did science instead (or who do science also)--especially when compared to English majors. If you tell people you're an English major, when they tell you something even remotely scientific, you can stare blankly and say, "I'm just a stupid English major."

8:39 AM  
Blogger Nazanin said...

I'm going to quote Ben Jonson and say "nothing good is ever new. nothing new is ever good." The basic things always last whether they are found in books or nature.

6:36 PM  

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