The Quest: Follow the Clues
Amid wind-surfers and dog walkers, I set out down the South Beach State Park trail on a sunny afternoon armed with my camera and my book of clues. I was on a quest. By following the clues, I would collect letters until I had the information I needed to find the quest box at the end of the journey. This was my second quest. The first one, on the Hatfield Marine Science Center estuary trail, proved to be much more difficult, its letters well disguised, but now I was getting into the rhythm of it.
I recently bought the new edition of the Oregon Coast Quests Book put out by Oregon State University and the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center. Its 24 quests range from Otis at the north end of Lincoln County to Yachats at the south end. Most focus on nature and/or history, offering lots of interesting facts among the clues. They also test your powers of observation. Did I know that "sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses have nodes"? No. Nor did I realize I could legally take a sandy trail off the paved route for a beautiful private walk among the pines of the Old Jetty Trail.
It was an easy walk, no one but me and tiny bushtits, the ocean roaring to my right, a soft breeze tousling my hair. I found clues on the backs of signs and trees and fences and ended with a riddle that led me to the metal box wherein I found a quest log to sign and a rubber stamp to mark my book, proof that I was there. Where was it? I cannot tell you.
I can tell you to check the website at seagrant.oregonstate.edu/freechoice/OregonCoastQuests.html for locations to buy the $6 quest book and give yourself some fun. There's also a GPS version, but I think it's more fun to explore on our own without any special equipment. This is a great activity to do with kids of all ages.
Where will I quest next? Maybe north, maybe south, maybe somewhere in between. You never know.
August must be the month when people decide they'd better take their vacation before summer runs out. Everyone I know has had visitors lately, and I was no exception. My stepson Ted joined his brother Michael to come see their dad. They spent a fun three days together, celebrating his birthday, taking him out for meals and exploring his new world in Albany, OR.
Shortly after the boys went home, my brother Mike and his wife Sharon drove up from California. Between casino trips, we managed to work in lots of shopping, eating and visiting. They, too, wanted to see Fred, so he had more company and more restaurant food.
It was good to see everyone. I appreciate their taking the time to come up to beautiful Oregon. Now it's back to work for all of us, and some days I only talk to dogs.
Chico and Annie
The "kids" are now 18 months old.
Maybe they're slowing down a little, but
it's hard to tell. Chico still enjoys
jumping the fence and roaming the
neighborhood, no matter what obstacles
I put in his path. The dogs are so solid
and run so fast that I always have some
cuts and bruises as I try to be leader of
They have both been to the
beach lately. They don't like water that
moves, i.e., waves. But they do enjoy
the sand and the rivers leading out to
the ocean. At least once a week, I
decide I can't keep them, but then
they're so sweet I can't give them up.
Just like children, they're adorable when
In the photo, we see Annie at their new
hobby, grazing for wild berries growing
against the fence. Apparent these
berries are safe because my fruit
hounds have eaten tons of them and
not gotten sick.
Words and Music
I'm still blogging, working on my book on childless women, writing for SeaPort and trying to sell my earlier books. Add a little book editing, speaking and teaching, and I'm keeping busy. Last month, I attended the Author's Fair in Lincoln City. I didn't sell much, but I bought four books and met some wonderful authors.
I'm also doing a lot of church music these days as my job has expanded in the wake of Catherine Ryan's death. It takes two of us, Mary Lee Scoville and I, to fill her shoes. We're revamping the choirs, learning new music and figuring out how to share the work fairly. So far, it's working out pretty well, thanks to all the singers who have been willing to deal with a little temporary chaos.
The coast chapter of Willamette Writers is taking a break this month but will be back Oct. 6 with poet Marianne Klekacz, whose most recent book is When Words Fail, published by Dancing Moon Press. At our monthly meeting, Marianne will talk about her work and help us get past the blocks in our poetry. We meet at the Newport Library. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program starts at 7. Admission is free. For more information, contact me or Dorothy Mack. Writers on the Edge continues its Nye Beach Writers Series on Sept. 19 with Kaia Sand and Jules Boykoff, performance poets and activists for political and social justice. They combined their talents to co-author the book Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and Public Space, a book that explores what dissent looks like when framed and made by poets, and how dissent alters our understanding of what poetry might be and become. The program begins at 7 p.m. at the Newport Visual Arts Center. Admission is $5. An open mic will follow the featured authors.
Border Songs by Jim Lynch, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Brandon Vanderkool is 6 foot eight, severely dyslexic, possibly autistic and a newly appointed border guard on the U.S.-Canadian border. Although it looks like he can't possibly succeed at any job, especially when he seems to spend more time counting birds than looking for bad guys, he has a gift for catching drug traffickers and possible terrorists. Meanwhile, his dad, Norm, is having a hard time with diseased cows at the dairy farm, and his mom seems to be slipping into Alzheimer's Disease. That's chapter one. In succeeding chapters, we meet a lot of people on both sides of the border, so many people I almost gave up reading. Somewhere around page 50, however, I was pulled into the drama and from there it was a speed-read to the finish. Lynch manages to tie together many different characters, all skillfully drawn, in a tale that touches on many of the concerns of the early 21st century. We can't help but love these people and enjoy the unexpected way things turn out.
Paradise, Piece by Piece by Molly Peacock, Riverhead Books, 1998. This book begins with the declaration that the author decided at age 3 that she would never have children. Peacock, who is known for her poetry, ventures into prose in this book to explain what she says in her first sentence and how it has played out in her life. This is the memoir of a childless woman, but it is so much more. This is also a wonderful story of survival, love and reality. Peacock's father was abusive, her mother escaped into her work, and young Molly was left to take over the mother role for her father and her little sister Gail. It was a tough beginning, but as the book proceeds, she really does work it out piece by piece. The writing is beautiful, the story as gripping as any work of fiction. And yes, there are some valuable insights into the decision to live without children.
Can you believe it's September? I have seen the leaves falling and felt the weather turning cooler. Students are going back to school and visitors to the coast are heading home, but we should have another month of Indian summer to enjoy before it starts raining sideways again. The birthday list is shorter this month, but happy birthday, Suzanne, and everyone else celebrating a special day.
All contents copyright 2009, Sue Fagalde Lick
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