Friday, October 09, 2015

A land and sea interface from beyond time...and a small political comment.

About 50 million years ago, a chain of volcanic islands collided with what is now North America. We three pals, from south Vancouver Island, set off for the coast of Oregon to explore the remnants of these ancient volcanoes...and were not disappointed.

It's more than a dramatic interface of land and sea. It feels deliciously supernatural, otherworldly. The geological record shows that massive undersea earthquakes, and accompanying tsunamis occur here every 500 years, plus or minus 200 years. The last one took place 300 years ago...we were in the "window". Beneath our very feet, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate was moving under the North America plate, at only 4 cm/yr...admittedly, less than a "snail's pace", but we didn't think about that.

The beauty and the mystery of it all was simply too compelling to be considering such (geologically) "catastrophic" thoughts. We had been here before, but never exactly here...good luck and a low tide permitted us a brief few hours to explore, for the first time, around the corner of an ancient headland. It was stunning.

Today, as I write, we could not have explored this place..this splendid, secret cove would have been rendered inaccessible by huge and dangerous swell. A special weather statement was issued this morning...

Over the Pacific, Hurricane Oho has transitioned to an extra tropical low. A large swell, generated by the storm, is expected to arrive in the coastal waters. This swell will be the source of primary concern. With the swell reaching 14 feet, the threat of breaking waves over jetties and south to southwest facing beaches will exist...along with the possibility  of generating significant surf. A swell of this direction and magnitude is uncommon. Remain out of the surf zone and off jetties as breaking waves have the potential to sweep people into the water. Remember...never turn your back on the sea. Mariners will also face additional hazards.

Duly warned. This is a zone of great instability and vulnerability, in every way...but on the day of our exploration and discovery, gentle weather and sea state, a low and ebbing tide, and benign tectonic forces permitted us a most extraordinary window into a magnificent world of sculptured beauty.

Primordial beauty.

Stark beauty.

And amidst, and subject to the unimaginable forces of change and erosion, there is always life on this planet, delicate and determined. Sentient, at some level? Who really knows? Perhaps they "feel" the gathering storm at sea - and are already holding fast against it.

A "heart" of resistant rock, up against the coastal cliffs, cradles treasures.

Carefully placed, sea-polished disks of volcanic birth beckon us into this timeless shell. Others had been here before and had left these simple cairns, perhaps, as a gentle reminder of their visit here.

We each gathered up a smooth remnant of an ancient volcano...and with three polished pieces, marked our time spent in this special place.

By today, nothing will remain inside this little natural sanctuary...our visit will be but a memory. 

The beach will be refreshed, renewed, recreated by storm waves. There will be no trace of our passage...just the way it should be.

The natural world grounds us and liberates us both "roots and wings". Nature invites us to become as children (and we did)...with an insatiable appetite for exploration and discovery and delight. It is time spent in the world "outside" that revitalises our spirits, soothes our hurts and our angst, sharpens our senses, brings to us balance, gives us perspective and appreciation, and reminds us of our very tiny place in the larger web of life in which we all have to take care of each other.

I know I've said this before, but our Canadian politicians, currently competing for votes in the upcoming federal election, all need to get outside. (Well, thankfully, there's one candidate for PM that actually does get outside - he learned it from his dad.) Enough of the endless "conversations", table groups, strategies, town hall meetings, and campaign promises...they just need to get outside, and breathe deeply and be still (yep, be still), and listen for once. Why is listening so hard for so many who aspire to positions of power? If they could just find the courage to find a little time to get outside in raw and pristine nature, they would learn that the environment and all life is fragile and vulnerable. Having made that discovery, they would understand that we have a responsibility to take care of this planet's life-support systems. And having made that discovery, they might be drawn to ensure that we become again a compassionate, gentle, caring, and open society - just as we once were in Canada. They would understand that we need to be thinking about our grandchildren's children. Ultimately, it's about us all...the whole human family - and all life on the planet - as wonderfully diverse and different that we are. Of course, the added benefit would be that our leaders would also model much healthier lifestyles, and think much more clearly...of the common good. Now that would be leadership. Go figure, eh? And, they'd probably sleep better at night.

The three pals...Joan, Linda, and myself...felt most fortunate to have had a glimpse of this magical interface of land and sea, just around the corner of an Oregon coastal headland.

Meanwhile, seas are building...shorelines are being reshaped...change...always change. ;)


  1. Beautiful pictures Duncan. It was a spiritual time in a magical place. Just amazing!

    1. It was just a "point and shoot" day, Linda, as you know. The landscape made it easy - an amazing place, a "thin place". So glad we could share that time. Warm wishes. Duncan.

  2. What a superb place that looks Duncan, and I'll bet in a sea fog it would be truly otherwordly... and you're right, politicians of every nationality need to get out more! :o)

    Warm wishes to you both

  3. Hi Ian, in fact, the previous day a sea fog did envelop us on the beach. It began as a thick bank offshore and rolled in, cold and eerie. It was the Angus and Fife North Sea "haar", all over again. Glad to be onshore! Warm wishes.

  4. Great to see you are still finding plenty of "thin places" to explore and talk about, also your "point and shoot" technique is working really well.

    Warm wishes to the three of you.

    1. Hi Mike, thank you for that. It was, indeed, a "thin place", so much like those many special places along the coastal areas of Scotland. The little Panasonic DMC-TS2 has been a faithful companion for a good number of years now - and survived some good "swims". :) Warm wishes from us both.

  5. Good news this morning D&J, hopefully PT can make a difference

    Warm wishes

    1. Thank you, Ian. A bright warm sun has broken through the overcast this morning, in more ways than one. :) Canada will be back on the world stage with its characteristic warmth, courage, and strongly hopeful spirit. It is a good day, indeed. Warm wishes from us both.