The Swimmers

A harbor seal watches me with its head just out of the water, nostrils flared wide as it takes a quick breath, at Cobble Beach in Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

After May was cooler than usual, the heat has come on full in June so for the past couple of weeks I’ve gone swimming for the first time in the new house (I won’t count the time the pup fell in). The pool is a bit on the small side but I thought would be just long enough to get exercise and thankfully that has been the case. I’m a pale imitation of the true swimmers though like this harbor seal at Yaquina Head, ungainly on land but a marvel in the water, flaring its nostrils wide as it took a quick breath before heading back under the water.

Keep It Down, We’re Trying to Sleep!

Keep It Down We re Trying to Sleep

Harbor seals eke out as much rest as they can amidst the crashing waves as the Pacific rises to embrace them. I too was awakened recently by gentle but relentless sounds, once by the sound of Boo trying to get out of the bedroom closet he got trapped in, once by the sound of him trying to get into a different closet. The Pacific is mighty and mysterious, but not so much as Boo.

Goodbye Oregon, I Love You

A harbor seal watches from the surf near Cobble Beach on a rainy day at Yaquine Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon

I discovered right away during my interview trip 21 years ago that Oregon was where I belonged. One of the managers found out I liked to hike and took me hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, then the other students and I had the weekend to go out the coast and explore whatever we wanted.

That wonderful Gorge is a half hour drive to the east. My beloved Ridgefield National Wildlife is half an hour to the north (across the river in Washington). Snow-capped Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens are visible from Portland and an easy drive too. Well known for its waterfalls and wetlands and lush forests and rugged coast, all of which I dearly love, there are also high deserts and sand dunes and even redwoods all the way south.

Scenes like this, a curious harbor seal poking up out of the surf at Yaquina Head on a rainy day at the coast, gave me as much pause about moving to Arizona as the summer heat. Oregon has so much to offer, so much that delights me, so much I will miss. Goodbye, I love you.

The World of Water

A harbor seal peaks over the waves in the pouring rain at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon

Ours is a world of water but not so much as theirs, particularly on days of water above and below. You should have seen the smile on my face when the rain really started chucking it down as I watched the harbor seals frolic in the surf. Water defines so much of what I love about the Pacific Northwest, the lush greens of the forests, the snow on the mountains, the waterfalls, the seasonal ponds, the wetlands, the mountain streams, the rivers, the oceans, the tide pools. All the animals therein. I’m trying to soak it in while I can in case I end up in a world still defined by water, but by its absence rather than its abundance. But I’ll love photographing those places too, I learned long ago to focus on what you love about where you are rather than what you miss about where you were.