When Things Go Right

It’s been a good week. Or a mostly good week. A pretty gosh darn fairly good week. I pause and take notice because of how I moped as the season turned, along with covid and politics and blah blah blah. But sometimes you just get a break, and things look pretty good, so I’ll take some time to feel the joy. And write this quickly, in case.

The miracles (skipping the darker sides): the Trump Organization got nailed, another seditionist got hammered, Georgia gave us a gorgeous senate majority with a Jew and a Black man (a pastor at M.L. King’s church no less). Also we’re done discussing werewolves and vampires in politics. Marriage for all (finally) has federal protection. And Brittany Griner came home. Plus plenty of rumblings on future come-uppances for many bad, mean people. What a week!

Meanwhile, Alan and I took the grandkids to Seaside Beach for two nights. Temperatures hovered in the low 40s, but the predicted rain never materialized. The moon was full, and though we couldn’t see it behind the thick cloud cover, it brought wonderfully low minus tides. The sunset was just pretty enough, and the low light on the horizon made for exquisite wet sand reflections. The cloud cover that had me gloomy this fall was somehow brighter and lighter on the Pacific, and so was I.

It being early December, there were few folks on the beach and not many more in town, so we rarely wore masks (which we still do, opinions be damned). Our condo was nothing fancy, old like everything in Seaside, but the entire western side was glass, looking out to the ocean just steps away, and a balcony if we wanted to be on it, which we mostly didn’t. Each kid had their own bed, and ours was quite comfortable. We brought almost all the right foods. So far so good!

The kids would also highlight: the indoor pool where they cavorted and frolicked, splashed and yelled non-stop for many hours (grandparent sainthood earned here). We ventured into the (empty) arcade for some raucous bumper cars and thrilling tilt-a-whirl, got some mediocre french fries to go, found unbroken sand dollars on the beach, made challah french toast and bacon for breakfast, played plenty of Sudoku, and Rosa won at Monopoly AND backgammon.

Given all that, they were wonderfully enthusiastic. Or they recovered quickly from not exactly having their way. Or they eventually recovered from not exactly getting their way. I couldn’t ask for more. They slept all night long; ergo, so did we. When I thanked them for their flexibility and quick recoveries, Rosa (almost 11) said, “That’s so we can do this again!” They know we love them no matter what.

The town of Seaside isn’t far from Portland. It was established in 1899, and quickly became a tourist town.* Old hotels and condos line the beach, with a well used 1½ mile long promenade alongside. Memorial plaques on every bench and light post indicate long-time undying allegiances to the town. Broadway, the main drag, is full of kitchy beach-themed decor, with all the flavored fudge, ice cream, t-shirt stores, bars, and comfort food restaurants you could want (and more). The town maintains its 60s vibe, and sometimes a 20s vibe (1920 that is), and offers an ancient aquarium and several arcades. There’s much that we missed, and that’s fine.

I tend to avoid this sort of beach town. I don’t need corn dogs and mini-golf. But this trip was for the kids, so it was perfect, focused on the pool, with raucous rides, and beach time thrown in.

For me, the beach is everything.

I was thrilled to get out on my own a few times while Alan held down the fort. I don’t know why I love the ocean like I do. Perhaps it’s about where or how I grew up, but it’s always a magnet for me. And in my Oregonian life, I miss it; rivers hold second place in my heart.

The shore buoyed me with its long stretch of empty sand and endless sea. I considered if I’d be just as happy on the vast plains with nothing but prairie grass to gaze at. But no, it’s the water, the misty air, and that specific salty breeze in your face or at your back. It’s the stolid ever-present seagulls (sea-rats in my book) screaming overhead or picking at the crabs and mussels washed ashore. It’s the delightful skittering sandpipers (or sanderlings) who dance lightly, chasing waves and running away like delighted children, then poking their long beaks into the wet sand. It’s the patterns and glimmers in the sand, it’s seaweed painting pictures, it’s the layering and clashing of clouds over sea and mountains, and it’s the sound of waves filling my head, pushing aside all the unnecessary thoughts. It’s the vast space.

It all gave me a reprieve from the heaviness of the short, dark, cold weeks that Katherine May describes as the long pause when the sun stands still. “The solstice is a lull in time itself, the slack of a grand tide. In those days, we rest, and celebrate, and think about how we’ll be when time starts again. We unpick our stitches, and remake ourselves again. We do all of this under the year’s guidance. Our only work is surrender.”

Surrender has its appeal, like swimming with the riptide until it releases you. I wish for a bit of surrender to all who might be struggling this dark month. Perhaps a walk on the beach might help – or a mountain, desert, or forest if that’s your thing. The light will come again.

* Indigenous peoples had long inhabited the coastal area. Here, the Clatsop tribe had a village named Ne-co-tat (in Chinook).

On our ride home we discovered that it had snowed again overnight on the coast range, making for a beautiful drive back.

11 thoughts on “When Things Go Right

  1. You had me at “come-uppance”. 

    My fierce, FDR-loving grandmother taught me that word during one of our many nights on the couch working on crossword puzzles. I remember vacations on the Oregon coast with my grandparents too. (And trips to the Thunderbird Motel on the Oregon side of the Washington/Oregon border with a pool we would be in for hours!) Thanks for invoking these wonderful memories. I hope your grandkids hold onto theirs as I have mine all of these years. I ordinarily love fall and winter but this year I am reminded of just how many people I’ve lost in these cold, dark months. My own “wintering” is deepening and I’m grateful for your reminder of the gift of surrender. 99 days until spring … let’s keep going*

    Liked by 2 people

    • Keeping going is all we have, and there is so much poetry and wisdom out there to keep turning to as we huddle indoors. I was grateful to have this sudden upswelling of joy, and I don’t take it for granted. Maybe it’s hormonal. 🙂 I don’t have grandparent memories, so I’m motivated to create some for my kids. Thanks Bonnie, stay warm.


  2. This just made me laugh. And I didn’t realize you had gone sans parents. Wowza. You and Alan have earned more jewels in your crown; it must be getting heavy. We are doing grandparenting well, my friend. You especially, being in closer proximity than I. But when my 8 year old, looking at his Camp Gigi journal, said, “These were the best moments of my life,” my heart burst a little bit. They won’t remember our impatience and frustration and their meltdowns. Just all the goodness. Mazel tov!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Spectacular photos and a gentle reminder to get to the beach, forest, mountain, lake, etc. – outdoors in nature where breathing comes easier. As you wrote, running, thinking, forgetting, and I would add many other things are easier too!
    I dropped off groceries at noon today for Lindsay and family – the house was gloomy and the boys sat on the couch in a stupor, pale and coughing. The energy in the room had been sucked out by yet another round of COVID. Lindsay was upstairs sleeping – her 4th time with the virus. Ugh. I think a walk on the beach today is in order for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy moly Sonja, that poor family. I’m sorry, that’s a lot for you to manage. I hope they have other help besides you – what a huge task. Hope they heal soon and completely, and that you get some beach time for sure. Lucky you to live there – I’ve been yearning! Thanks for reading. x


  4. Pingback: 100 Things That Made My Year | Rivers and Roads PDX

  5. super cool Grandparenting as per usual! Also, does ANYONE need corndogs. The answer is no. Seaside off season seems pretty chill and fun; agree with reader above (and you) about luckiest/best and vice versa. Thanks for taking us along xoxox love you Oh Powerful One

    Liked by 1 person

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