The beaches along the Pacific Northwest coast are spectacular, most often windy and dotted with monoliths.
They’re rugged and chilly.
We frequent them as much as we can since living here in Oregon the past four years. I’ve written about them several times in travel pieces for the Los Angeles Times. But we’d never experienced one like our chance encounter with Ruby Beach; a random stop my husband and I made for a “let’s stop and stretch” moment while driving home from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
Take a close look at that picture to get a feel for how large the driftwood is. Can you make out the little dark spots that are actually people?
The tousled and tangled driftwood in this picture are an example of what is known in this area as drift logs. It might seem obvious that the driftwood on the beach came from the trees in the area, but in fact most of the driftlogs come from much further away, typically inland. Trees fall over in storms, wash into streams and rivers and then get swept all the way down to the ocean.
It was a tangled, mangled, mayhem of logs. If we wanted to see the ocean and walk along its edge, we were going to have to work for it. We were both up to the challenge and ended up getting separated as we each chose our next turn, straddle, balancing, precarious way through the maze. His heigth made for a different path than mine. Eventually we got through and enjoyed a fresh, captivating walk near the water.
It was nature; wild and elemental.
Sitting close to it, just a short walk from the tangled logs, were serene spots like this.
And on my way back to the car, meandering and working out my path safely and with intention through what nature had washed ashore, these cairns gave me pause.
A little order and balance in the midst of chaos.
A physical sign that others had been here before.
A message left behind; perhaps to mark the way, although there were many ways for each individual to pass through.
A representation of the stillness and peace that can be had in the midst of something difficult and that what we leave behind can be such a good thing for those who come after us.