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Coast Chronicles: Summer daze of 2018

By Cate Gable

Observer columnist

Published on August 15, 2018 12:25PM

Allan and son Mathew Dees completed some on-the-fly repairs to the Laser to prepare for the last heat.


Allan and son Mathew Dees completed some on-the-fly repairs to the Laser to prepare for the last heat.

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“What Life Is Made Of”

It wasn’t a mistake, my loving you,

But why must chests be opened

to remind us — these glistening organs

brought to the light?


I had intended to write another breezy column about all the amazing goings-on in our little neck of the woods. The day began with a blessedly hard rain, and I knew all the Peninsula gardens were rejoicing after our weeks of summer drought.

Humans at my house started the morning at the Senior Center for one of those classic pancake breakfasts: lively servers, friendly table-mates (from North Dakota no less!), down home cooking, fiddle music, clothes for sale in the women’s bathroom, even a jigsaw puzzle table for our bored teenager. Then, after a quick stop for raincoats, and a Long Beach Candy Man drive-by (note aforementioned teenager), we drifted down to Ilwaco’s Saturday Market.

Despite the drizzle, Ilwaco merchants were chipper and happy to see us. We strolled by tents of folks offering their wares with undiminished enthusiasm in the soggy gray light. We stopped at the Wapato farm booth for corn and tomatoes (the purveyors were delighted to be out of the 108 degree weather of Eastern Washington). Then we made a quick pass-through at Time Enough Books for a hello to Carla; and we were back in the car for a leisurely drive home.

But just-mid-Ilwaco, across from the library there was an unheard-of traffic jam — was it a fender bender? No. A deer had been hit, was still alive, and was obviously in a tremendous amount of pain. I’ll spare you the horrendous details of the image emblazoned in my memory (though my poem above came to mind). I stopped, spoke to someone who was lighting a flare and asked why no one had put her out of her misery. “Don’t touch her. She has lyme disease. A patrolman is coming.” (Lyme disease? — this guy is a scientist? Unlikely.)

Back in the car we thought, “Why?” The speed limit through Ilwaco is 25 mph; this is the block right before the stoplight; a deer crossing at the library would not appear — flash — out of a densely wooded area. Was someone not paying attention? Driving too fast? Who caused this misery?

Whatever or whoever the cause, here was a metaphoric and microcosmic example of what humans are doing to our fellow creatures all over the planet. A mammal was down, a creature from our family tree. Call me a bleeding-heart liberal, but suffering — any suffering — changes the color of the day. Changes our relationships with ourselves and with each other. Or should.

Climate change

The direct emotional impact of a mangled-yet-alive deer on the road is exactly what we seem not to be able to feel vis-a-vis global warming because its results are not lying in front of us. Global warming is creeping around the edges of our lives and impacting people and animals at a distance. It’s an abstract concept only, which, even when it hits in tangible form — wild fires, flooding, king tides that wash away homes, massive ecosystem changes — seems not one thing but a set of unrelated and slowly moving puzzle pieces grounded in happenstance with surely no relationship to me.

Those starving polar bears exists (do they?) in some arctic place we know about only in photographs. That “underweight and desperate” (also known as starving) cougar who killed a cyclist in May outside of North Bend? That’s not my fault.

And anyway, feeling things is inconvenient. Children separated from their parents? — no big deal. My kids are safe, or grown, or I don’t have kids, so quit bothering me. The deer half-dead on the highway. Not my problem.

Oysterville Regatta

But/and life goes on, whether it’s losing a beloved husband, life-partner, a mother, childhood friend, or the family four-legged. We pick ourselves up and … go to the Oysterville Regatta — which was, by the way, perfect.

There was wind. There was sun. There were dogs, mud, people with binoculars to call the race (thank you Frank Wolfe and Mark Clemmens) and swallows skimming gracefully over the tasseled grasses along the shoreline. The clouds, big and boofy or smaller and thinner, rolled in over Long Island and provided dramatically aesthetic companions for the Willapa Hills.

Tucker Wachsmuth (not racing “because of his knees” someone said; or as Tucker himself pointed out, “I’m tired just watching them. I’m sure glad I’m not out there this year”) kept score; and, of course, a good time was had by all. Even the racers who capsized.

But the Lasers weren’t the only action. Kathy Dees (whose husband Allan was in the race, helped by son Mathew) paddle on a beautiful rainbow board while several other brave souls were splashing and sunk up to their shoulders in the bay. Doug Knutzen was out in a jet-ski in case any rescuing was needed; and the folks in the committee boat kept the heats moving along both from the bay with air-horn blasts and online with tweets.

Jazz and Oysters

And speaking of oysters, don’t forget that this coming weekend is the 33rd annual Jazz and Oysters from noon to 7:00 PM at the Port of Peninsula Boat Basin in Nahcotta (3311 275th Street). As Board member Linda Nackerud Hinde says, “This event is fun on so many levels: great music, including the openers (our own Ilwaco Jazz Band); so yummy bar-b-que oysters and other food offerings; our new exciting venue with an amazing view; plus a few other surprises.”

“I joined this board because of the music education component. This past school year, in addition to our support to the Ilwaco music program under the direction of Rachel Lake, we also presented a musical education program (Obo Adi Legacy Project) to all students in the Naselle School District, and all students at Ocean Park and Long Beach schools. (The called it ‘the best assembly ever.’)” Proceeds from Jazz and Oysters fund these efforts and other Water Music events. 

This year’s “J and O” featured artists include our own R.J. Max Quartet; the songbird Eugenie Jones; 45th Street Brass; and the Ilwaco Band High School Jazz Band. At a ticket price of $25 it must be one of the best music deals of the year. (Tickets for kids 6 to 18 are $12. Under 6 are admitted free.)

Lively music, great food, kid and dog friendly (on leash — not the kids). What more could anyone want? So check out the schedule or get your tickets: watermusicfestival.com/event/jazz-and-oysters. Support our amazing local events. And please, please wherever you go, drive safely.


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