Rows of rock cairns, Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

Rows of rock cairns, Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

Rock
by Jane Hirschfield, from Given Sugar, Given Salt

What appears to be stubbornness,
refusal, or interruption,
is to it a simple privacy.  It broods
its one thought like a quail her clutch of eggs.

Mosses and lichens
listen outside the locked door.
Stars turn the length of one winter, then the next.

Rocks fill their own shadows without hesitation,
and do not question silence,
however long.
Nor are they discomforted by cold, by rain, by heat.

The work of a rock is to ponder whatever is:
an act that looks singly like prayer,
but is not prayer.

As for this boulder,
its meditations are slow but complete.

Someday, its thinking worn out, it will be
carried away by an ant.
Mystrium camille,
perhaps, caught in some equally diligent,
equally single pursuit of a thought of her own.

img_0025

img_0043

The flat, smooth, water-rounded pebbles and rocks on the beaches of Washington’s Pacific coast seem to inspire Andy Goldsworthy-ish mini-sculptures.  I often find cairns, those piles of gradually smaller and smaller stones precariously balanced.  Part of their appeal is their ephemeral nature, waiting to be toppled by tide or wind or passersby.

My sister and her husband collect heart-shaped stones.  I seem incapable of walking a beach without picking up at least one favorite rock or stone to take home.  On this day, I found irresistible this dimpled rock that felt good in my hand and pocket:

img_9985

And I added my own Andy Goldsworthy-inspired rock art to the Rialto Beach landscape.  It was likely dismantled by the next incoming tide, but I couldn’t wait around to witness its destruction.

img_9978

img_9977

 

Advertisements
Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach

Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach

“That far-resounding roar is the Ocean’s voice of welcome.  His salt breath brings a blessing along with it.”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne, from “Footprints on the Sea-shore”

Olympic National Park has several beach access points to the Pacific coast.  On this road trip, we stopped at three beaches and walked barefoot in the sand.

Rialto Beach was the wildest shore with stretches of pebbly sand and sea stacks jutting up from the water.

img_9966

img_9961

img_9970

Ruby Beach was glorious in the morning light.  We descended a short trail down from the parking area to the beach.  Old tree trunks littered the shore above the tide line.  This beach, too, had sea stacks.  But it also had tide pools to explore and fine sand to walk on.

Arriving at Ruby Beach in the early morning

Arriving at Ruby Beach in the early morning

Sea stacks

Sea stacks

img_0031

img_0028

img_0033

img_0039

img_0045

img_0058

Kalaloch Beach seemed tamer, with a wide expanse of soft sand down to the water’s edge.

Kalaloch Beach

Kalaloch Beach

img_0069

img_0071

“The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean —
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.”
— Robert Frost, “Devotion”

 

Approaching sunset, Rialto Beach

Approaching sunset, Rialto Beach

“I never watch a sunset without feeling the scene before me is more beautiful than any painting could possibly be, for it has the additional advantage of constant change, is never the same from one instant to the next.”
— Sigurd F. Olson, Reflections from the North Country

img_9965

The sunset over the Pacific Ocean on this particular evening was an experience of pearlescent pageantry.  It was an evening of lustrous pink and gray skies.  Here is the play-by-play:

img_9972

img_9982

 

img_9997

img_9983

img_9993

img_0008

img_0001

img_0015

“Fold upon fold of light,
Half-heaven of tender fire,
Conflagration of peace.
Wide hearth of the evening world.
How can a cloud give peace,
Peace speak through bodiless fire
And still the angry world?”
— Edwin Muir, from “Sunset”

The Cry of Seagulls

August 17, 2016

“And oh, the cry of the seagulls!  Have you ever heard it?  Can you remember?”
— C. S. Lewis

IMG_9057

One memorable part of my day trip to Rialto Beach was that I got many great photographs of seagulls in flight.  They were feeding in the surf, right at the edge the water, and they were swooping past at eye level.  So here are the results of my photo frenzy capturing the freedom of flight:

IMG_9070

IMG_9059

Juvenile seagull

Juvenile seagull

IMG_9054

IMG_9040

IMG_9041

IMG_9039

IMG_9038

IMG_9036

IMG_9031

IMG_9030

IMG_9029

IMG_9028

IMG_9026

Watercolor sketch of seagulls

Watercolor sketch of seagulls

Another watercolor sketch of seagulls

Another watercolor sketch of seagulls

 

 

 

Sol Duc River at its mouth on the Pacific Ocean

Sol Duc River at its mouth on the Pacific Ocean

Olympic National Park is really huge and encompasses such diverse landscapes — snow-capped mountains, freshwater lakes (like Lake Crescent), ocean beaches, and temperate rain forests.  It really is a marvel.  Rialto Beach was less than an hour’s drive from Nature Bridge campus, so three of us interrupted our retreat to make a day trip there.

Rock cairns on the Rialto Beach

Rock cairns on the Rialto Beach

Walking barefoot on the beach

Walking barefoot on the beach

Rialto Beach is wild, windy, and glorious.  The surf pounds.  The air is rich with ozone.  Sea stacks off shore appear and disappear in the mist.  Huge logs litter the upper beach.  Tall evergreens border the ocean’s edge.  The beach is sandy and pebbly, and all the pebbles from small to large are flat and smooth.  The parking lots were full, but the immensity of the coast absorbed all those people so you felt the space as expansive.

We walked along the beach to the Hole in the Wall, ate a picnic lunch, and then painted for an hour or so.  Here are some photos of our day at Rialto Beach:

Sea stack like a ghostly phantom on the horizon

Sea stack like a ghostly phantom on the horizon

IMG_9057

IMG_9100

One of the world's giant sandboxes

One of the world’s giant sandboxes

Two friends

Two friends

IMG_9052

Ink and watercolor sketch of sea stacks

Ink and watercolor sketch of sea stacks

Watercolor painting of sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Watercolor painting of sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Another view of sea stacks from First Beach, La Push

Another view of sea stacks from First Beach, La Push

 

Ocean Waves as Symbols

August 5, 2014

Pacifc waves at Rialto Beach, Washington

Pacific waves at Rialto Beach, Washington

“In the winter of life, the sea lulls and comforts.  It has the look and sound of eternity without putting one through the troublesome formality of having to die first.”

I like what Jonathan Raban says about ocean waves in his essay “Waves” from Driving Home.  He is talking about the Oregon coast, but the wild Rialto Beach on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is similar:

“The line of breakers on the beach is a fantastic dissipation of long-accumulated power.  It is the fall of kings.”

” . . . the crest of each wave poised for its downfall, is a universal symbol because it unites the extremities of human experience in a single continuous line.”

“Nowhere do waves break with more reliable splendor than on the melancholy coast of Oregon, where the great Pacific wave trains come to a spectacular end on beaches of pulverized green sand.”

 

 

Road Trips and the Mind

August 3, 2014

“Carried along on the hum of the motor and the countryside passing by, the journey itself flows through you and clears your head.  Ideas one held on to without any reason depart; others, however, are readjusted and settle like pebbles at the bottom of a stream.  There’s no need to interfere; the road does that work for you.  One would like to think that it stretches out like this, dispensing its good offices, not just to the ends of India but even further, until death.”
— Nicolas Bouvier, The Way of the World

Nearing sunset on Hwy 101, Olympic Peninsula

Nearing sunset on Hwy 101, Olympic Peninsula

This has been a vacation-less summer for me, and I’ve been craving a getaway.  This weekend my husband and I took a daytrip to a few ocean beaches on the Olympic Peninsula.  We drove from sun up to sun down — a long day — but relaxing in the way Bouvier describes in the quote above, the miles stringing along with free-flowing thoughts and impressions.  The day was a tonic.

We explored two beaches I had never been to before near La Push on the Pacific coast and Rialto Beach where I had taken my niece last year.  Our summer weather has been hot and sunny lately, but interestingly, a fog bank had settled right where the water met the land, and it stayed cool and gray on the beaches.  We could barely make out the silhouettes of sea stacks off shore.  Still, being by the ocean was restorative — the fresh smells of salt and wet sand, the rhythmic crashing of the waves.

First Beach in LaPush with fog-enshrouded sea stacks

First Beach in LaPush with fog-enshrouded sea stacks

Jetty at First Beach

Jetty at First Beach

Through the "eye" of driftwood

Through the “eye” of driftwood

Watching the waves

Watching the waves

Mile+ path down to Second Beach included stairs down the bluff

Mile+ path down to Second Beach included stairs down the bluff

Fog at Second Beach

Fog at Second Beach

Surf fishing at Second Beach

Surf fishing at Second Beach

IMAGE_6090

IMAGE_6091

IMAGE_6095

Second Beach

Second Beach

Sand sculpture

Sand sculpture

Pebbly shore at Rialto Beach

Pebbly shore at Rialto Beach

The sun never made it out

The sun never made it out

Stacked beach rocks, Rialto Beach

Stacked beach rocks, Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

Seagull

Seagull

Seagull

Seagull