Tillamook, Oregon—Glad To Be Alive

Nehalem State Park
June, ’80

It was 3:30 p.m. when I reached Tillamook, and found a paint store
with a face mask, and after that I found a Safeway store. Sitting on
the sidewalk, under a protective overhang, eating pita
bread with peanut butter and jelly smeared on it, I tried, but
failed, to keep the falling ash out of the gooey concoction. There,
beside me, on the sidewalk next to where I was sitting, was an ash
coated bubble bee. It was slowly crawling toward me, struggling under
the weight of its ash caked body. If the bubble bee could make it
across the sidewalk and up against the wall it might survive. As I ate
my ashen sandwich and reflected on the plight of the bee, I tried to
imagine what it must have been like at Mt. Vesuvius where thousands
died, and the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried whole. All of a
sudden volcanoes seemed a lot less romantic to me, if that’s the right
expression. When I got up to leave it was extremely quiet. The gray ash
was everywhere. Except for a few scurrying humans that were heading
home and the one dead bumblebee that lay at my feet, there were no
signs of life anywhere–no birds, no insects, nothing, just me and the
falling ash. It was only a month ago that Mt. St. Helens exploded,
killing 77 people and smothering the surrounding wildlife, forests,
and even a river. I couldn’t explain why, but, standing there, I felt
glad to be alive.

Before I left Tillamook, I bought a pair of swim goggles. Biking down the highway, decked out in my Mt. St. Helen’s survival gear, I felt like a frog on a
bicycle. I didn’t care; as I looked out upon a dead and dying environment, I felt safe. However, that environment did provoke some disturbing thoughts concerning manmade pollution. It would be so stupid to bring this kind of
pollution down upon oneself, but nothing is impossible for mankind.
Twenty miles later, when I finally took off my protective gear and
took in a deep breath of fresh air, I was so thankful, I even thanked
the Lord.

When the sun finally poked its head through the clouds, I began to see
the full character of the northern Oregon coastline. It was homey and
quaint. I was having such a good time bicycling I didn’t even want to
look for a campsite, but common sense got the better of me, and when I
arrived at Nehalem State Park, I decided to call it a day. A mile and
a half off the highway and close to the ocean, I set up my tent in the
hiker-biker section of the park, and much to my delight found myself
alone on the beach (and still am—I decided to stay an extra day). The Washington
boarder was only forty miles away.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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3 Responses to Tillamook, Oregon—Glad To Be Alive

  1. My first tutor in Buddhism was a philosophy teacher who would not write because writing was not in the now. Said and frankly may have been a rationalization on his part.

    As you are a blogger, you are not as adverse as he to writing. So are you going to put this together for a book or series of short, read during lunch hour E-tales?. I urge you to do so. I am trying to put my intellectual property out there by epublishing.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      I appreciate (and thanks) for both the complement and encouragement. The reality of my situation is that I do not have the ambition (nor the ability) to promote my writing. I am grateful to Postaday for keeping me busy and challenged. Truth be told (and this is probably a psychological defect–but a real one for me), I’ve never sought out praise or recognition–it makes me uncomfortable!

  2. frizztext says:

    It was only a month ago that Mt. St. Helens exploded,
    killing 77 people and smothering the surrounding wildlife, forests,
    and even a river. I couldn’t explain why, but, standing there, I felt
    glad to be alive…
    we all are survivors of some Waterloos …

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