Circle of Life

I celebrated my birthday on the coast last weekend. I won’t tell you how old I am.  But to much family delight and canine terror, the conflagration on the birthday cake set off all three smoke alarms.  Really.

I wanted to go to the ocean to walk on the beach in the wind and rain; that sounded soul-satisfying. And it was.  Walking with my kids and running with my son’s dog was fun.  Feeling the sand under my boots, standing with seagulls, studying the muddy breakers and the infinite horizon both stirred and soothed.  Tiny springtails congregated in purple patches on the surface of the streams draining out of the hillside.  They speckled the sand among the Coastal Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) and Pacific Silverweed (Argentina egedii) twining their way over the dunes.

And the real find: carcasses of Chinook salmon strewn on the beach. They must have spawned in one of the rivers flanking this beach—the Moclips or the Copalis—then died and washed down to the ocean.  They were eaten down to their skeletons; only their heads and tails were still whole.  Just that sight—fish bones on a beach—tells such a fundamental story about life and birth, purpose and death.  Appropriate for a birthday weekend.  Made us hum a few bars of “The Circle of Life”.

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