“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, and loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” – Joan Didion
The beach belongs to me, or more accurately, I belong to it. I lived for only a few fast years at this place, but it claims me forever. My attachment is so strong that I mourned months after the loss of that home when it was sold and I had to move. I had claimed the cries of sea birds, the flashes of silver sided salmon leaping in the surf, and the tremble of waves as tall as trees crashing powerfully on the beach. I had claimed the place hard. Now years since walking that beach, smelling the kelp decay, and listening to the tide fall back into the strait sounding like bacon sizzling in the pan, I know that place is inside me making me who I am, pulling me back there, and increasing my senses as I walk here in the dry Rocky Mountains.
I’ll share the first pages from a journal I carried when I lived on The Place Road at the mouth of the Elwha River on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Through my journals, I feel the sense of place again. These entries were made in the first year I lived at the seashore.
April 18, 1987
On the horizon float puffs of light colored as if by an unseen artist, pink and yellow-orange. Dark grey fog sits heavily around them and over them. The surface of the strait glows pinkish-yellow in some spots. The sky is overcast. Today Vancouver Island has seldom been visible.
April 28, 1987
Tonight I found fresh kelp washed up on the beach. Spring brings the sea vegetation back in abundance. All winter there has been only dead or old kelp.
Sunday I watched seals playing in three different places. Then three sea lions swam by. They are huge, very huge. They swim like porpoises.
Thursday I left very early for a meeting in Seattle. Four submarines floated in the strait. Whenever I see subs, it is always in the morning. There was news that a Russian sub was in the strait recently.
Last week a 256 pound halibut was caught in this bay. I have counted as many as 65 fishing boats at the mouth of the river. I am reading The Old Man in the Sea. Hemmingway is explicit about life in the sea.
Ricky and I water-skied at Lake Crescent Sunday with Dwyane. We showed up in swim suits and were put into sweats and “dry suits”. I could not keep hold of the rope behind the inboard motor. Dwayne said next time he’ll go easier. Ricky got right up while Dwyane held the rope to take up the slack. He gave Ricky excellent coaching!
May 6, 1987
I think this is an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Enormous ants are crawling into the house along the floor!