Olalla Morning

I had gone to Olalla to fish the beach this morning; it had been over one year since I’d been there and hoped for a productive morning.

As it turned out, I along with the three others fishing (two harbor seals and a juvenile eagle) all appeared to have the same luck – which was none.

But it was still worth the effort for another reason.

After a bit of fishing, I walked up the rocky beach from the water to a bleached tree trunk that had come down from the bluff in some recent winter’s storm.

I sat down and decided to spend some time just looking.

The morning was gray with low cloud cover.  There was perhaps a 4-5 knot wind coming up from the south, which added a bit of chill to the high 50s’ temperature – but still pleasant with a jacket.

The forested hills of Vashon Island – except for the widely spaced houses along its beaches – looked pristine – much as they might have looked for the Swiftwater people as they paddled on their way to their villages or as George Vancouver did when he sailed up Colvos Passage looking for his second lieutenant, Peter Puget, who was late in returning from an exploration of the southern sound.

There was a small fishing boat moving near Vashon Island, but that was about it. I was near the point where the beach turned north, so the few houses and Olalla Bay Market weren’t visible.

While it is true that had I continued north a bit farther, I would have seen a few houses along the beach with some boats moored, where I was sitting gave me the feeling of being far removed from humanity.

The solitude is one thing I’ve always liked about Olalla.

Looking south down Colvos Passage between Vashon Island to the left and the Kitsap Peninsula to the right, I watched as the tidal current flowed in my direction.

I reflected on the fact that the tide and its currents had been doing that my whole life. From my first breath through to today, and all I had done and the ups and downs of life, the tide flowed in its own cycle. And it would continue to do so long after I’m gone and forgotten.

Beyond that, it had been doing that for most if not all human history – likely since the last ice age that shaped Puget Sound.

Ancestors of my fishing companions had shared the air and these same waters for perhaps thousands of years; their descendants hopefully for the same if we humans are smart enough to not burn or poison the air, land, and water in which they live.

The last few weeks have continued the torrent of news about the failings of humanity: wars, corruption, needless deaths, self-absorption, and all the rest.

Pay attention to too much of it, and any beyond the barest of minimums is too much, and one can’t escape the conclusion that humanity is on its last legs.

But it’s just one chapter in Earth’s human history.

Other empires and epochs have come and gone. The people who lived through those likely felt the same and had the same concerns and hopes as we do.

If humanity is able to muddle through without immolating itself in nuclear fires, the world we know will pass into history.  We all will join those who came before in being just another chapter in the long book.

Perhaps some future archeologist will ponder the meaning of the items found in the layers of an ancient landfill and wonder what they were all about. Maybe the thousands of uncovered McDonald’s Styrofoam containers for something called the Big Mac will be seen as offerings to some deities called The Beatles.

Maybe that should be a comfort to, as the expression goes, not to sweat the small stuff.

And if we need a reminder, which we frequently do, watching the tide, walking through a forest, or admiring the flight of birds should do it.

The cycles of nature are eternal – or as much of eternity as we can imagine.

Maybe it’s enough for us to know we shared just a very, very small part of it.


Author: Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.