Coast Chronicles 
Good to be ‘Home Sweet Home’

Columnist Cate Gable is pictured incognito in Nahcotta (trying to get over jet lag).

How can I miss you when you won’t go away?

Keep telling you day after day

But you won’t listen, you always stay and stay

How can I miss you when you won’t go away?

— Dan Hicks

By CATE GABLE

Observer columnist

Or you might prefer Mark Twain’s take on it: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Yes, I’ve been away. And now I’m glad to be home because coming back is one of the pleasures of being gone. Everything gets re-examined, re-assessed and, maybe, we fall in love again with where we live and all the people there.

My first thought driving back from Seattle to the Peninsula was, “Holy smoke, we live in a remote place!” Driving I-5 one can retain the illusion of urbanity for awhile. Everyone is going somewhere in a frenzy which, I suppose, makes us all feel so important. We’re each tucked in our own private vehicles, mostly (though surreptitiously) on the phone or bobbing our heads to a favorite tune.

But turning off the freeway at that bend around Olympia, one notices first more and more trees and then fewer and fewer cars. At the Montesano exit, you really know you’re in the country: the speed limits drops, the road gets wiggly, and the trees get taller. At that point, you just have to kick back, especially if you get stuck behind an enormous delivery or logging truck. You might as well get in the groove and accept that things are slower in Pacific County.

A stop at the Satsop Bulb farm, especially now that spring has sprung, is a welcome reminder to slow down. The tulips! The daffs! The primroses! Suddenly everything has turned from black and white to brilliant Technicolor. Now I’ve got a bucket on the porch bursting with blooms, and I’m beginning to think more about why I like living here.

Jetlag is the most dastardly aspect of plane travel; it really is a kind of body-violence — the result of belting up in a metal container and flying in mere hours to a distant land. The rule of thumb is that it takes one day for every hour of difference between the time zone you leave and the one you travel too. I think it’s roughly true. France is nine hours away from the U.S. of A., and now five days into my return I’m just beginning to feel like myself.

At first I couldn’t even figure out what or when to eat — one morning around 7:30 a.m. I had a rib steak. And how was I going to make it through my morning coffee without a croissant? These are third world dilemmas that shouldn’t be mentioned in polite company, but really, the French know how to make bread and bakery items. (We’ve got some hearty choices but nothing like a crusty on the outside and oh-so-soft in the middle baguette.)

Other tips for jetlag: I’ve found that my craving for citrus when I land makes sense biologically. Lemons and grapefruit help fight dehydration, a sure side-effect of flying. And there is no substitute for taking melatonin, I say 10 mgs 30 minutes before you want to close your eyes. (Cherries, Goji berries and fresh ginger all have natural melatonin.)

First, trying to get over my zombie-days, I went to the grocery store incognito — big coat with hood, sunglasses, sweatpants — and, of course, ran into everyone I know. Then I just gave up and gave in to my disorientation and settled into all the delights our little neck of the woods is known for. I walked the beach with Jackson (he’d been staying with good friends in my absence); sat by the fire while it poured; chatted with our post mistresses; wandered around in the garden watching the raspberries leaf out. Everything in slow motion.

The day before the (mostly non-existent) storm, while everyone was stocking up on flashlight batteries, candles and propane, I went to the beach again and found a bizarrely shirt-sleeves balmy sunny day with no wind. Glorious! The only other beach goer was a man in shorts running up and down the dunes carrying an enormous log round. Training for the Coast Guard? Who knew?

Friday night’s Oysterville “salon” grounded me in place. There were a raft of familiar faces sitting comfortably around Sydney and Nyel Steven’s living room passing a bowl of grapes and commenting on nothing in particular. Easy — as in full of ease — friendly, relaxed.

Tucker Wachsmuth, our Pin Ball aficionado, brought for show and tell one of the elegant steeples that once stood on the gabled top of the Bickel House in Portland. Tucker was there when the impressive house at 2245 S.W. Park Place — built by Fred Bickel for $14,000 in 1890 — was pulled down. Ever the collector of remarkable objects, Tucker paid ten bucks each for the two decorative iron spires that topped the house.

The Bickel House once had a glorious view out over the city and, in the distance, the Cascade Mountains. Fred had said at one time, “I know people think it’s strange to build so far out of town, but I am going to live where I will not be overlooked.” The irony was that eventually the stately house was surrounded by some of the largest apartment buildings in Portland. But I guess Fred got his wish as he wasn’t alive when the house came down.

Tucker brought a book with photos and talked about that day in May, 21, 1971 when the grand old house was wrenched apart. They truly don’t make ‘em like that any more; and thank goodness we have folks like Tucker who can remind us of the happenings of those “good ole days.”

So it seems that the people of our town brought me home, back into my body, back into our time zone, back to my love of our quirky place. Of course I caught up on the news, read through the police dispatch reports, moaned or cheered about the letters to the editor. I heard that the inimitable Barbara Poulshock has a book coming out this month including fourteen choral compositions (available at the Bayside Singers concert April 28; or send $20 to P.O. Box 46, Nahcotta, WA 98637). Our internationally-known butterfly guy Bob Pyle is busy adding poetry to his quiver of skills. Brooke Flood is back home too and this summer will direct “Beauty and the Beast.” And KMUN celebrates its 35th anniversary with a party next Saturday, April 14, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Ruins of the Astor Hotel, 1425 Commercial Street; the public is welcome.

In short, and as usual, the Peninsula and environs is a hotbed of talent and enterprise. Even our little “hurricane that couldn’t” of last weekend hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm. It’s all part of our superb mix of big-trees, big-weather and big-hearted people. It’s good to be home.

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