This Is Not An Analogy by B. Durbin

This Is Not An Analogy by B. Durbin
Just north of Bodega Bay is a series of cliffside cabins along a vertiginous stretch of Highway 1. These cabins are more cliffside as the years go along, and maintenance on this stretch of road includes occasional replacement or movement as the ocean claims its own.
About a quarter-mile from one of those cabins is a little spur of land called Duncan’s Head. My friend Neva, whose extended family owned that cabin, told me that it’s also called Death Rock, because just off the end of it is a very deep undercut, and anyone who gets swept off the point gets pulled under.
They have dynamited a trench across that point and put up barbed wire, and people still occasionally climb out there, get swept off, and drowned, because that’s humanity for you.
Duncan’s Head is angled south-southwest, and protects a little cove and beach that has a public access trail with steps and a handrail leading down to it. Beaches in Northern California aren’t the sand expanses you think of as “beaches”; they are, if they’re even sand instead of rocks, often very cold, windy, and with dangerous water. In my senior year of high school, I was out there one day with my friend Neva, taking a break from doing maintenance on the cabin. It was a sunny and fairly warm day, but we quickly got bored with playing at the water’s edge.
We started taunting the ocean.
I mean that quite literally; Neva and I were standing just out of reach of the waves, occasionally running backwards as one got higher, but pretty much staying dry and only letting the occasional rush of icy water wash over our feet. And all the time we were shouting at the ocean, saying variants of “Is that the best you can do?”
Apparently it wasn’t.
Duncan’s Head was off to our right, clearly in our field of view. I saw the water go down. In that small eternity as I saw the water rise up again, I could tell just how big the coming wave was. I managed to get one word out: “Run.”
We turned and ran, knowing that the backwards dodging that we had been doing was not nearly enough. Now, the cove was not quite semicircular. If you think of the point and cove as a capital J, there was another little jog of cove off the short end. In that little mini cove was a picnicking family, complete with blanket and all. We ran near them, shouting that they were about to be soaked, and they likewise got out of the way.
The wave didn’t completely inundate the beach but covered a good third to a half of what had been dry before. The picnickers didn’t lose anything other than a few empty food containers, because they had been finishing up, and their pet rabbit had been exploring up the cliff hill several feet above the wave line. (Pet… rabbit. Who brings their pet rabbit to the beach?) Neva and I were fine, though on a bit of an adrenaline high.
But that image has stayed with me for over twenty years. Water goes down; water comes up. Time enough to turn and run; time enough to go through dozens of scenarios in your mind.
Barely time enough to escape if the catastrophe is minor.
Not all memories are life lessons, and not all life lessons are learned at the time. I didn’t learn from that experience so much as have previous lessons proven true. I leave you with three comments:
1. Never turn your back on the ocean.
2. Know the correct action to take ahead of time if you can; it improves reaction time.
3. If you taunt the vast uncaring deep, don’t be surprised at the consequences.
(Sarah Speaking: It can be a metaphor, too. – SAH)
Shameless author promo: Hey, I wrote a book!

93 thoughts on “This Is Not An Analogy by B. Durbin

  1. There are reasons the Greeks, who knew a thing or two about the sea, made their “Old Man of the Sea,” Proteus, a shape shifter.

    1. Never could figure out why the Greeks made the god of the sea a man; other than being extremely male-centric.

  2. Hey Bernadette!

    Let us know when it comes out in e-format! 😉

    1. Will do. (I’m with a small press, and the publisher has been a bit distracted lately with family medical issues, so I don’t know what the plans are.)

  3. The other lesson to learn is that the ocean is very, very, very patient….
    “These cabins are more cliffside as the years go along…”.
    And will some day be either houseboats or undersea reef material.

    1. Spent an anniversary weekend in one of the cabins overlooking Bodega Bay. Had originally been built level, but between quakes and landslip, had a distinct angle toward the front of the place. Furniture was fixed to the floor too. But the hot tub was level!

    2. I see my friend Neva every couple of years, and the family cabin is still there.

      And apparently there are still arguments over the fact that Neva and I got to spend a week there after we graduated from high school. She’s apparently on the “wrong” side of the family to get such a perk.

  4. Another lesson to remember is “Don’t claim what the Ocean claims”.

    As the characters in Claimed! by Francis Stevens found out. 👿

  5. I got nothing. Even Canute knew about the pointlessness of issuing commands at the ocean.

    1. It worked for Xerxes… but maybe the Bosphorus is more amenable than the English Channel.

    1. Never say “What’s the worst that could happen?”
      Never, ever provide your own answer to that question.

    2. “I double dog dare you.”
      Is usually followed by the biggest, meanest pair of pit bulls intending you to be their main course.
      And usually some fool saying, “Here, hold my beer while I do this.”

    3. When we are young, we are immortal. At least we tend to think we are (*I* did). I was very, very cocky once upon a time. Most days, when I recall it, it astounds me that I survivied my own stupidity.

      1. Those are the evidence that God does exist, and has a plan for you. Otherwise, you’ve just violated the Laws of Statistics.

        1. I tend to prefer the former. The latter would mean that consequence is going to be catching up with me, sooner or later. *chuckle*

  6. Heh. Reminds me of an exchange near the beginning of Big Blue.
    Little girl at the beach: “Where’s the ocean going, Daddy?”
    Father, looking at waterline receding…a lot–basically responds “oh, shit.” and gets his family to run.

    1. Which “Big Blue” are you referring to? I must admit, I don’t know the reference…

    2. There’s at least one verified case of people who knew the warning signs of a tsunami warning enough people off the beach to get major lifesaving points.

    3. It isn’t always enough to realize what is happening; you have to be in a position to do something about it. There is a set of pictures taken by a couple killed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami at; they apparently knew what it meant when the water went away (a lot of people didn’t; you can see how they ran out onto the suddenly-dry bottom), and that they were too close to the shore to escape it…

      1. Yes, that’s certainly true that you have to be able to do something about it. However, if you know the warning signs and have a general idea of what to do about them, you at least have a fighting chance.

        Perhaps one of the arguments given against gun ownership that rubs me tho wrong way the most basically amounts to “you can never win a revolution against your own government, and you won’t always win against a home invader or a mugger, so you shouldn’t bother with a gun at all”. This ignores the cases where you *can* win a fight against your government, and the cases where you *can* win against a home invader or a mugger — and it ignores the cases where you *can’t* win, but it’s better to stand up and fight anyway.

        But, yeah, if I ever see the warning signs of a tsunami, I hope I have enough time to run away from it….heck, I hope I have the presence of mind to run away from it! (Sadly, just because you know what the warning signs are and what you want to do, doesn’t mean you’ll actually *do* what needs to be done when the time comes to do them…sometimes we’re too clueless for our own good…)

        1. Perhaps one of the arguments given against gun ownership that rubs me tho wrong way the most basically amounts to “you can never win a revolution against your own government, and you won’t always win against a home invader or a mugger, so you shouldn’t bother with a gun at all”.

          It is a certainty that you will eventually die, so Health Insurance is a waste of money that could be used to alleviate the pains of poverty. Demanding government provided Health Insurance is a futile and wasteful expression of selfish greed.

          1. A common argument advanced by proponents of gay marriage has been that “you straights with your no-fault divorce have done so much damage to the institution of marriage that letting us have our way won’t inflict any more, so why not give up?”

            Same argument, and it blows my mind.

        2. Knowledge, along with guns and other emergency equipment, gives you options. They may not save you in extremis, but they give you a better chance. And despite the antigun people, the armed population of the U.S. COULD defeat the U.S. military if it came to a civil war; the number of military personnel, even with all law enforcement added, is dwarfed by the number of gun owners, many of whom have military experience. The military could not use its most effective weapons, as destroying the cities their commanders wish to rule would make the exercise pointless, and there would be a lot of said military and law enforcement personnel who would desert with their weapons, if they perceived the government’s actions against the citizenry as unConstitutional. Let us all hope this is never put to the test.

  7. There’s a familiar saying that’s relevant here:
    “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment”.
    And the skydiver’s addendum: “…provided you survive the bad judgment”.

    1. And the corollary I’ve heard from much better pilots up in Alaska than myself: “Learn from other people’s mistakes. You won’t survive long enough to learn from making them yourself.”

  8. Loved the post!
    That’s how emergency planning extends beyond equipment and into mindsets. Being ready, and not lost in the moment.
    It’s something I still need to work on myself.

    1. I think there have been some studies of survivors, from plane crashes and such, and among them tend to be more people who had imagined the scenarios and suitable responses beforehand – they had plans – than people who never gave a thought to the chance of something bad happening.

  9. The ocean is like a woman. Calm, peaceful, beautiful one minute, terrifying and deadly the next. Mother Nature’s chaotic daughter.

    1. My father was a merchant sailor but I have never liked the sea. The further from it the better it would be, at least when it comes to choosing a place to live, although admittedly I have lived most of my life pretty close (well, the Baltic is small as far as seas go, really just a large bay, so as long as you stay away from ships, boats and ferries you should be okay). Solid ground is far more reliable, thank you (well, as long as you don’t choose to live next to a volcano, on a fault line in earthquake prone areas and so on…)

      1. My mom was a paleontology nut and basic geologist. I know a lot about picking safe ground. (Though in most cases, it’s a “pick your poison” scenario—I’d much rather deal with earthquakes than tornados, for instance.)

  10. 1. Amen. The sea is an unforgiving bitch that will kill you without compunction or remorse. Not that she’s *trying* to kill you, she just doesn’t give a damn. Also, given half a chance, she can present you with breathtaking wonders.

    2. Amen. Preparation can *improve* your chances of survival. Of course, nothing guarantees survival, especially if, when crunch time comes (and if you deal with the sea long enough, it *will* come), panic sends all that prior planning out the window.

    3. Amen.

    1. Nature in all her wonder and terror, sea, air, and land.

      Every year some folks what go a hiking or camping don’t come back. Just because it’s a National Park, and close enough as the crow flies to human habitation (-ish, in places) does not mean you will be protected. Volunteers get called out every now and again when someone doesn’t make their rendezvous.

      On occasion you find bits of gear. From folks who knew-or thought they knew- the risks. Rarely foul play, but it happens. And then there’s the times you find remains. Mostly deer, around these parts. Long bones can get tricky sometimes if you aren’t careful (anthropologist’s trick- look for where the blood vessel enters the bone. Gotcha. Different in animals and people). Distal/proximal ends tend to get chewed, so the long bone bits are more common. Folks can tell a human skull, but pelvis? Femur? Those get expert (sometimes “expert”) identifictation needed.

      And still yet, it’s mostly deer, wild hog. Mostly.

      It’s not fun to be looking at a six inch bit of thigh bone at a place not five hundred yards from a state road and have to realize this was once a person. Dammit.

        1. It isn’t always that way. Sometimes, like the little kidnapped girl, you do good. The bastard uncle that took her is in prison and she’s back with her family (I think that one made the national news). Others, folks just ran late- floods can make things difficult this time of year, on some trails. Where there are folks following the maintained trails, that is. *chuckle*

          Ultimately, no matter how many times you just don’t know what happened to the person- did they make it home and forget to mention it? Often they are from different states, or even different countries, so it is possible. But even when you just don’t know, when the call comes you grab your radios and kit and go out anyway. Even when it could be wildly unlikely, like the calls in winter snowstorms. Because that could be someone *you* care about someday… You hope and pray someone else would do the same for them. And because it is the right thing to do.

          1. Oh, I was actually thinking “Lovecraftian monsters” horror-type horror. It starts raining. Hikers find a small cave and take shelter. The cave mouth suddenly snaps shut. Some hikers further down the trail hear a loud, echoing burp-like noise…

            1. Ask ol’ John ’bout the gardinel, while he’s tunin’ that silver-strung guitar…

            2. Oh, that made me laugh for some reason. When I share this with the guys, they likely will too- hiker eating caves are going to be a thing from now on. *grin*

              I can see the horror story in it now. But my friends and I share a weird sense of humor…

        2. It’s amazing how quickly things turn around in the woods. My father has been lost on occasion, and swears that even a river seemed to flow backward. We once had someone who’s boat motor quit on them walk out who though they were on the other side of the river. Then there were three who were the last ones I’d expect to get lost who almost didn’t find their way out one night, or the man who managed to get out by building a series of small fires and aligning them to make sure he wasn’t walking in circles.

      1. I took the kids to Yosemite a couple of years back, and one of the lectures was about how the most dangerous thing there is the water. Then we went to one of the movies at the visitors’ center and the pre-show clip was about how the water is dangerous (using an actual 911 call and interview with a guy whose buddy was lost in the river.) Later that same year, a couple of kids were killed when a tree branch fell on them in the campground.

        Heck, I once saw a truck totaled at the local regional park by an oak limb—right on the setup day for a major festival. Nobody hurt, thankfully, but some food vendor’s weekend was ruined. And that’s a place where the oaks are monitored for rot (though the idiots have LAWN under them, lawn and sprinklers, and these are native oaks that need dry feet for the five month dry spell we call summer.)

        Mother Nature can get you anywhere.

        1. Gary Paulsen’s Guts is an entertaining series of short stories that make this point beautifully. I book talk it every three years or so to the 6th graders.

          Great short story by the way. I hope you have more.

          1. I hadn’t realized how interesting my “everyday” life was until I was friends with someone from a micro-town. I mean, I’ve been a summer camp counselor. (Admittedly, there are some great stories from that, including one that would make a great biographical comic issue, but I hadn’t thought it was *special*.) My parents always held outdoors and museums as values, so we’d go places to look at rocks.

      2. I’ve heard that Volcanoes National Park is particularly bad about that. There are always some people who are sure they can tell the difference between the safe ground and the not-safe ground and go wandering off the trail. The difference in that park is that Mother Nature doesn’t tend to leave any bones to find…

      3. You have third and fourth generation people who’ve never seen the wild. They’ve watched nature shows on TV, and bought a bunch of hiking gear, and they’re familiar with the carefully-maintained hiking trails with the Forest Service right on hand… and there’s always the cellphone and 911.

        I’ve seen people boggle when they had no cell signal. Nope, regardless of what the map from the phone company shows, towers mostly follow the roads. And there ain’t no ranger coming to save you from the rattlesnake or brown recluse or swarm of bees. Mother Nature hates your guts no matter how many Bambi movies you’ve seen.

        1. “Mother Nature hates your guts no matter how many Bambi movies you’ve seen.”
          And, without mercy for your attempts at “loving” her. No amount of “loving the Earth” will help you when real danger comes a-calling.

        2. You know how you tell the Japanese tourists in Yosemite (as opposed to the California natives of Japanese descent)? The old joke about the cameras lost its force with the rise of digital, but the real tell is sandals. The “nature parks” in Japan are domesticated enough that you can walk around in sandals everywhere.

          Bet there’s a lot of blisters and scraped toes at the end of the first day there.

        3. I don’t think Mother Nature hates or guts; I believe she is completely apathetic in regards to our existence as individuals or as a species.

          1. There’s nothing like watching an avalanche take out 3,000 feet of mountainside and the highway in front of me to confirm that you are right… but I prefer the illusion that she is out to get me. Mainly because it motivates me to check all the warnings, the weather, my backup plans, and equipment.

            I’m human, and as such, I don’t deal well with utterly impersonal deadliness. Personalizing it makes me paranoid, and that paranoia keeps me alive!

          2. And that applies to all individuals of all species!

            (I have toyed with the idea of writing a story about some city people who decide to flee into the wilderness and set up a little town. I was thinking of calling it “The Earth is a Harsh Mother” or something like that….)

      4. I have a good friend, who is a terribly nice and terribly innocent person. She moved to Alaska with a job offer to work in one of the lodges, and the owner after a season strongly suggested that she move to Anchorage and stay there. Terribly politely, very helpful at getting her settled in, but… the bush was not the place for her.

        One day, as we went on a random road trip, we took a side jaunt to the Whittier tunnel so she’d know where it was. It was late enough at night, and just far enough from solstice, that it was a deep gloaming when we got there.

        I stretched, and viewed the land spread out beneath the purple sky, the mountains climbing high beside us, and the tidal flat stretching away where the last of the ocean arm came to lap at the runoff from the glaciers, wearing at the roots of the mountains until water will one day cut off the peninsula and make an island. Far, far away, the ticket-issuing building had a lone streetlight, illuminating the bathroom entrance. The day birds were silent, and the only thing you could hear was the wind as it whispered through the trees, carrying a bite of ice from the glaciers and a hint of aspen, birch, fir, and fireweed down to the sea.

        My friend turned to me, all wide-eyed, and said in tones of horrified revelation, “You could die out here. And no one would ever know, or find you.

        Of all the things I wanted to say, I chose the most polite, because I’m her friend. “Yes, yes you can. Mother Nature is always trying to kill you; most of the time we just don’t notice.”

        She moved with a nice geek down to the Lower 48, to the east coast. It’s a better world for her, and he adores her to the high heavens. The Appalachian mountains are much lower, more heartwarming, and what they lack in sheer breath-stealing beauty that can catch you at the oddest moments… they make up for in a much, much lower body count per capita.

        I miss that land in my bones, in my blood. And I understand Peter’s homesickness of Africa, for all its deadliness, terror, horrors, and wonders. It claimed the lives of so many of my fellow pilots, but I still miss it.

        1. My wife, when she moved here from Japan talked about places that were “inaka” (“countryside” or “the sticks” is how its usually translated). In Japan. That generally means you have to walk a couple of hundred meters, maybe, to the next house.

          She had no idea, none at all.

          Shortly after we moved to Indianapolis her parents gifted us with a trip to Las Vegas and a bit of a road trip in the surrounding environs. We kind of looped up hitting Zion National Park, Lake Powell, Meteor Crater, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Damn, and then back to Vegas.

          At one point, even though we had not left the highway, I pulled over and pointed out to her that you could see 360 degrees of horizon and the only sign that humans had ever been there was the road we were traveling on. I pointed out that there were places we could go (hiking, horseback, or off-road vehicle, not like that rental Sebring) where you could literally see for miles with no sign at all that humans had ever been there. And this is nothing compared to some places (like, say, Alaska).

          “Inaka” Feh.

          1. I had that same moment – on the IH-15, a little bit north of a little hiccup on the highway called Beaver. When I was driving back and forth for a couple of years between my parents’ place and South Ogden, Utah — Beaver was the last place to get gas for about fifty miles going north. And for miles – there was nothing. Just the highway, the high-power lines … nothing else in sight for miles and miles and miles of empty country.
            I put that insight into a couple of my novels – how empty the far west was. Nothing but empty miles and miles, without anything man-constructed but the highway itself and the power lines. My various European friends would have freaked at all the emptiness.

            1. This is why I think all congresscritters ought be required to take an orientation BUS TOUR of the United States, coast to coast, round trip, I-95 up to I-90 to I-94 back to I-90 to I5 down to I-8 to I-10 back to I-95 p to DC. I suspect that a lot of the city district congresscritters really don’t have a clue about how vast the country really is. Flying doesn’t convey it the same way a bus tour would.

              1. And if a bus occasionally got lost (very lost) deep in the back country of Wyoming, or was covered by an avalanche in Utah….

                Well, it might be a start………

  11. Reading The Jaws Log right now. Filming at sea is a nightmare.

  12. Years ago I spent quite a bit of time hanging around some musicians who lived in and around Mendocino, a bit north of Bodega Bay.

    One of the group, who had moved from the area shortly before I got to know them, was a very talented traditional fiddler. One dark and stormy night, he and his wife, after enjoying some very good, locally grown, recreational pharmaceutical decided to go over to the edge of the cliff near town and watch the storm surge that was battering the coast.

    After a bit, he turned to suggest it was time to move up a rock or two to the very top, and then head for home. She wasn’t there. Just gone in an instant, and as far as anyone could ever determine, caught by one slightly bigger wave than the rest.

    1. In middle school, three boys I knew went swimming in a pond. All three were fine when they decided to swim to shore. Two reached it and found the third was gone. Never did figure out why he drowned.

      My father-in-law used to get called out to drag for bodies. People who waded in the river and happen to drop into a hole and never come back up is disturbingly common.

      And if anyone visits Jekyll Island, Georgia, beware of a sand bar that juts out in the sea at low tide, but is quickly submerged when it comes in. Several drownings there. Georgia put up signs, one of them indicating high tide point, and people still drown.

    2. The first hurricane that hit Kwajalein while I was there, I went out to see what conditions were like. After the storm passed, part of the airfield remediation was removal of FOD (Foreign Object Debris) from runway and taxiway. Part of that FOD was fish (Fish Object Debris?). The storm surge had washed *over* the island at some point. In this instance, it was just a miracle of positioning and perhaps timing that kept me from a watery demise.

      1. Have had to work in them. Not fun. The only ones out are usually power crews, road crews, and law enforcement – and we all look at each other like “what other fool is out in this mess?” When it really gets rough all you can do is hunker down. We didn’t consider that one rough (cat. 1 by then), and were still dodging trees coming down.

        Other than stuff burning up in my face, the closest call at work was when I closed in a transformer bank, went down the road, happened to remember I hadn’t done something, went back, and found the fuses open and oil boiled out right where I’d been standing.

        1. Yeesh. Close one.

          Once did a turn-around check on a B-727. As it was taxiing to the runway, its inboard port main whell underwent a ‘spontaneous dynamic disassembly’ (it exploded). If that had happened while I’d been standing there . . . One fragment bounced off the taxiway, leaving a significant divot, and buried itself in the starboard wing missing the fuel tank by ‘this much’.

    3. I am not surprised he moved — there must have been more than a few in that community who intimated her “washing away” might have not been entirely accidental.

      I seem to recall Nero Wolfe using just such an example in a description of how to commit a perfect murder.

  13. Trump’s fired Comey. I’ve just read the collection of letters justifying the firing. Check it out.

    1. Where, specifically? I see Instapundit and Powerline, and Althouse (381 comments), but no letters.

      1. Jonathan Turley, liberal legal analyst, observes:

        President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey this evening in a surprise move. Various politicians and the media have openly referred to the act as “Nixonian” and “another Saturday Night Massacre.” I have previously stated how the Saturday Day Massacre has been misrepresented. I also do not agree with Jeff Toobin on CNN tonight that the decision was clearly due to the fact that Comey’s investigation was getting “too close” to President Trump. I do not see how one can reach that conclusion after months of criticism over Comey’s past conduct, including widespread anger from Democrats over his public statements on Hillary Clinton. I agree that the timing is concerning and legitimately questioned. However, the Administration may also have waited for the Deputy Attorney General to be confirmed to allow a career prosecutor to review the matter and to concur with the decision. Democrats denounced Comey over his actions regarding the Clinton Administration. The matter was given to the Deputy Attorney General who was just confirmed recently.

        President Trump took efforts in his letter state that Comey assured him that he was not under investigation. He stated that “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

        The White House released a memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a respected career prosecutor. He found that Comey’s prior conduct did “substantial damage” to the FBI’s “reputation and credibility.” He noted that the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department” and that his conduct was “a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

        Rosentstein served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He is not viewed as a political hack. Moreover, the firing of Comey results in the elevation of an individual widely denounced by Republicans: Andrew McCade. That would hardly be an optimal political switch.
        [END EXCERPT]

    2. What amuses me is the shocked indignation that Trump would fire anyone who is not performing.

      Did they not watch his show? Are they unaware of his catchphrase? Do they just hope the rest of us have forgotten?

      1. Comey was partisan, waffling, misused the Bureau, and I expected him to get the axe on Trump’s first day.

        Comey’s continued presence was bothering me quite a lot. I still wonder why Trump took so long to get rid of him, but we may never know.

        [I would have added “embarrassment to the Bureau”, but the FBI has sufferent from incompetent directors for so long they should be used to it by now]

        1. Biggest reason? They had to get a Deputy AG confirmed to drop the hammer. Trump couldn’t just do it; direct conflict of interest supposedly. Sessions couldn’t; he had to promise to recuse from the “Russia scandal” to get confirmed. Confirming a career DOJ employee who’s worked under both parties allowed him to recommend it.

    1. I think this might be the letter dismissing Comey:

      I look forward to Democrats attacking Trump for so abruptly firing a dedicated public servant and thus undermining confidence in the FBI.

      1. Hunh! Comment in moderation? Probably because it had a link to a tweet which contained a link to the letter. Ah well, moderation in pursuit of vice is no virtue.

  14. A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, he said, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn’t. But we do be afraid of the sea, and we do only be drownded now and again.

    — From The Aran Islands by John Millington Synge

  15. I’m going to post this, and then go back and read the other responses. My family is from Oregon, and when my dad was 21, his family had a family reunion at the beach, I believe at Newport. Dad was playing in the water with a twelve-year-old cousin on his shoulders when they were caught by a sleeper wave such as was described by B. Durbin. They were both washed out to sea; Dad managed to make it back to shore, but the little girl didn’t. Relatives had to physically restrain him from throwing himself back into the water to try to find her. I don’t think he ever completely got over that.

    Years later, after living in Alaska, we were back in Oregon for a visit and went to the beach. My mom strongly emphasized, NEVER turn your back on the ocean. And a few years later, when we moved back to Oregon and went to the beach again, she repeated it. I think she repeated it every time we went to the beach (which was fairly often, as we lived only a few miles from the coast at Florence), until I was in college. She never told us the why (my dad’s story above) until much later.

Comments are closed.