Thursday, July 20, 2006

To Sleep With the Ocean

The central Oregon coast, north of Florence.
Photography made available from our private collection.
See reference note at the end of this post.

My husband and I usually celebrate July 4th with a road trip, not only because we enjoy the summer holiday free from his hectic job, but also because it is the anniversary of our engagement. I remember the July 4th when he kept waiting for the perfect moment to ask me to be his wife. We had a picnic beside the lake at a monastery outside Atlanta where Trappist Monks had built their home 40 years earlier.

Enjoying a peaceful holiday as we talked about the future we'd dreamed of sharing, we watched ducks drifting in the currents of the warm lake that summer afternoon. We played a board game similar to Trivial Pursuit while we ate fresh fruit and chicken wings. We were lazy in the summer heat.

Later we sat quietly together inside the Abbey gazing at the architecture and design, aware of the holiness of this place and moment. We walked the grounds near the store where the monks bake and sell their breads and nurture their beautiful bonsai garden. Though neither of us is traditionally religious, we enjoyed experiencing the contemplative atmosphere in which the monks live their lives and the serenity which bathed us in light and love.

In the evening we dined atop a luxury hotel, watching fireworks through the glass walls as the restaurant slowly revolved, giving us views of the city from every direction. Several firework displays around the city dazzled us that night, all seeming to celebrate our love and the future we had moved toward for two and a half years. I went to sleep happier than I had ever been, wrapped in love and promises of our future.

Since that July, our favorite way of celebrating this holiday is to retreat to the central Oregon coast and sleep with the ocean. We find a room which has a private balcony overhanging the sandy beach, a place where high tides lap the rocks and drizzle sand just below our room. We forget tsunami warnings when we climb into the sound of waves as they tumble to shore. We are hypnotized by the sound of the water, the smell of the ocean air, and the flight of the birds outside our room as morning wakes us.

The gulls visit us each day and eat from our hands. At sunset campfires dot the shore beneath our balcony, and we eagerly anticipate the beautiful light display which will soon shimmer in colorful reflection on the wet sand. Many beachcombers bring along their own personal stash of fireworks to the evening’s orchestra of light. They'll give us our own private show of color glittering the evening sky high above the surf.

We drive the coast during the days, exploring familiar areas again, taking in the seascapes with new eyes, always struck with wonder at the magical hand of nature in some detail we never noticed in the past.

We see old trees hanging above the ocean, wondering how many years they have lived on this earth. We notice the sea stacks of rocks and earth positioned far into the surf, open invitations to breakers which pound them with foaming, salty water.

We watch the sea lather the shore where someone wrote a name, see each letter erased bit by bit in rhythmic motion. Birds travel between shore and rocks, some roosting far out on craggy ledges which overhang the sea. We watch them through the binoculars. We study the tides to learn our best chance for uncovering hidden treasures. We won't disturb tidal pools, but we will take home agates and beautiful rocks left in the sand, some washed smoothe; all beautiful. But, mostly we’ll take home memories of days and nights seasoned with love and tranquility, steeped in the comfort of the constant sea. We are already counting the days until we will sleep once again with the ocean – next month we will head to the northern California coast.

One day we will own property on this coast, a place to retreat each season. In spring, summer and fall we will sleep with the door open to the air, to the smells and sounds of the surging water. We'll watch the winter storms and migrating whales in colder months. It will be ours, the place where we can sleep together with the sea.

All photography from the Oregon coast is from our private collection. Photography from our private collection is protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced, published, or used in any manner without our written permission.
Enlarge each photograph by clicking on the image.

The photograph inside the Abbey, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, is published
with the kind permission of James Behrens, photographer.
It demonstrates the soft light in the aisle which filters
through the stained glass windows.


Suzann said...

Sky - beautiful photos and a beautiful post. What lovely memories. Oh how I too love the Oregon coast. In the early '70's I spent a summer and autumn in Yahats. Sleeping with the Ocean - I have always had a dream of returning to spend an autumn and a winter on that beautiful coast. Nice to see you back on the blog - Hugs.

rdl said...

Just beautiful!!

gracie said...

So incredibly beautiful - living out the peace and wildness of the earth, together.

tara dawn said...

Beautiful pictures and images of your loving time together on the shore. So glad to hear you had such a tranquil vacation:)

Mary said...

Oh Sky ....what a very special day, and how well you describe it in words and pictures.

The last paragraph, describing your future, is magical. "sleeping together with the sea ....". Just beautiful.

Lorna said...

"To Sleep with the Ocean" led me to fear a gangster-related story---I'm obviously too quick to judge. This is a story that wakens all the things we wish for ourselves. Except, of course, money.

Sky said...

suzann - thanks for the warm welcome back! i have been out of the mood to post for the past 6 weeks. i started this post around july 7th, but blogger wouldn't let me load pics until now - so i waited. i couldn't bear to post it without the visuals. oregon is just too lovely, as you know. hope you get back this way soon.

rdl - you should have seen it in real life!

gracie - i listened to you singing today on the link billy set up and wowowow! i love the group blog you guys are doing! thanks for coming by. :)

tara - i've spent a long time today writing you a letter and doing research for links RE ideas for a quick trip for you and M to make this summer...hoping that you get at least a couple of days for R&R before studying begins again. one day you will be finished with this PhD and free to travel more! Guessing we will see you in Nov. x0x0

mary - one day - yes, one day...
it's always so good to see you, and i'm hoping the packing/cleaning, etc., is coming along well. i thought about you earlier today. :)

lorna - "sleeping with the fishes!" LOL - glad i surprised you! well, about the money: we gotta find some to buy the coastal retreat...any ideas?! ;)

liz elayne said...

these photos are gorgeous (i would love to know where you went for your visit and maybe take myself there for a few days to sleep with the ocean a bit).

and i love crawling inside your words, like i am sitting across from you in your garden listening to you tell your stories.
i have missed you.


Tabor said...

Looks like a lovely place to retire and you are fortunate that you can visit it now and build memories.

robin andrea said...

Sky-- Your photos capture exactly why we love the Oregon coast too. We thought for a very long time about retiring there, before we picked Port Townsend. Still, my heart goes back to that very coastline by Florence. Such a beautiful place. That's a very romantic story about the 4th of July too!

Pam in Tucson said...

Your wonderful photos bring back memories of our leisurely trip up the Oregon coast one summer long ago -- one of the most beautiful journeys we ever took. What a perfect way to celebrate your engagement anniversary - in tune with the ocean.

Sky said...

liz - the entire oregon coast is exquisite! take your pick from lincoln city south to florence (5-7 hours south of you). you can never go wrong. closer by, however, you might enjoy the n. oregon coast. hopefully you can one day drive the whole coastline, even doing it in stages through time.

tabor - i feel fortunate to live in this part of the country. except for maine, no other place compares to the pacific nw for me.

robin - after we leave the coast it reverberates inside me for weeks. i miss it and find myself craving it like a drug! ok, i admit it, i am an ocean junkie!

we'll be heading back soon - south through the pacific redwoods, through mendocino, perhaps on to pt reyes, and across to yosemite. it depends on time and commitments here.

mermaid said...

Two souls sleeping with the ocean and each other. This reminds me how to stretch the limits of lovers' possibilities.

Thank you for sharing Nature's wisdom (and yours) on this journey.

Patry Francis said...

What gorgeous photos! Well worth waiting for.

Yolanda said...

I think I know where you went to sleep with ocean because I was there in June. Is it the Inn at Spanish Head? The balcony and views of the birds and beach,bonfires all look similar to photos I have of that area.I love it there also it is my souls home.

MB said...

Sky, these are beautiful photos of an area I'm very fond of. And what a lovely experience you describe. Thank you for sharing this. "sleeping together with the sea" is indeed wonderful.

Frankie said...

What GORGEOUS images!!! I love the photos and the description of each of these captivating moments. I feel so calm and at ease just reading your words. Thanks so much for this little piece of paradise! xoxo

Sky said...

pam - i agree with your assessment of the oregon coast. nothing compares.

mermaid - we are ready to return!

patry - thanks much!

yolanda - not spanish head, but near! good eye :)

mb - thanks! we'll go back in a few weeks en route to the N CA coast. puget sound is like fall at the moment - 40 nights/60 days. it'll be hard to go anywhere unless the destination is cool, too!

frankie - so great to see you - i missed you while you were gone! glad you enjoyed the natural beauty of this coast. wish you could visit it - it would quieten any noise which distracts you. :)

Endment said...

Wonderful memories and what a delightful way to celebrate those memories - thanks for sharing with us...
I have always enjoyed the northern California and Oregon coast - your photos are worth waiting for.

Tammy said...

Sky, It's such a pleasure to read your writing and get lost in your photography again. I missed you're poetry on Thursday's :) This trip looked so romantic with your description.

Thanks for your support with ALS and my sweet boy. He's on preds & anti-biotics...he's still in pain and I hate that! Hugs

Nova said...

Sky, that post is just so romantic, and the photos are stunning. You have such a way with words that I can smell the ocean and feel the water between my feet as I read your entries.

isabelita said...

Such wonderful photos of one of our favorite areas! I know those trees and rocks and waters... We spent years going down to a place just south of Yachats, every spring break. The weather's a bit of a gamble then, but you can always read when it's raining sideways.
We haven't gone for a couple of years now, and I miss it.
Lovely vignette.
We've never been to Yosemite, but I hear from fellow climbers that fall is a good time to go.

Carolyn said...

Stunning photographs! Thanks for sharing them here. I hope to one day get to the western side of the US (well, I was in San Diego a couple years ago), to enjoy sites such as these on a first-hand basis.

Mildred Garfield said...

I'm a first time visitor and glad I found you.

Those pictures and the post that went along with them was absolultly magnificent.

John said...

Great shots, all of them. Well done.

SierraNightTide said...

The pictures are beautifull!

claytonia vices said...

Lovely post and great snaps!

salvagepoint said...

Hi Sky, thank you for your lovely comment on my post.
I find great peace in your writing and see reflected in your thoughts several aspects of myself.
Strangely, I look to your writing as spiritual guidance - and it reiterates my belief in the goodness of people, nature and all things living.
Its a blessing indeed.Thank you.