a visit to the beach

Ruby Beach is beautiful today. Each round, smooth stone looks like it was laid there precisely. I do not spot one piece of garbage on the wild-looking, lovely coast. A rain falls but it is not cold. The sea has tossed up almost all non-living detritus one could think of: driftwood, large and small, seaweed, mussel shells and limpets and razor clams. The kids pick up this and that and run into the shallow caves; spy a way to climb up to the sea stacks, only a few feet away but separated by fierce surf. I am holding the leash of my mom’s dog and walking through the satisfyingly coarse sand, smelling the sea that’s been a part of my life since time immemorial. On the shore where I walk I watch my feet, entranced. It’s almost like garbage, but nature’s garbage: each little tangled pile of vegetation and bleached-bare twisted branches is like a sculpture tossed artfully together: a tuft of seaweed looking like shag carpet, a shed kelp pod glimmering like clouded glass.

We don’t feel wet until we’re headed back to the car. The dog, the kids, Ralph and I: soaked. Shaking out sand at the car and putting ourselves in and the heat cranked up as high as it can go.

We take the extra twenty mile detour north to visit the town of Forks, to get coffee at least. I haven’t been there since a high school boyfriend’s soccer game, long ago. The town has changed, but also retains the same characteristics I remember. It’s wet, like everything else always feels up in the rain forest.

I decide to stop in one of the handful of Twilight-themed touristy shops. I love that evening is falling in this little town but the occasional tourist trickles into the cheerfully lit store of bric-a-brac. The two women working there ask me where I’m from, then are soon treating me to a sour treatise on the wrongs beset on them by Hollywood and co.: the film was not even filmed in Washington State, Governor Gregoire, grumble grumble. I’m not here to buy anything but I’d like to end the conversation on a good note. “My family and I were going to stop in at the Chinese restaurant right here,” I say, “Do you recommend it?” “I don’t care for it, but she likes it,” one of the women says. Her companion responds, “It’s OK. It’s different. I mean there’s another Chinese restaurant up the road but they can make it lousy up there too.” They don’t give me any advice on what restaurant does have good food. I tell them, have a nice evening, and step back out to the car, still slapping at my soaking-wet jeans.

Ralph and I are laughing as we head out of town. I guess we’ll wait for HQX for our fried rice. Nels, who’d wanted so desparately to eat in a Forks restaurant, fell asleep only minutes before the city limits. We haul him out of the car on the way out to take a picture by the town’s welcome sign, as he sleeps on Ralph’s shoulder, then drive south with our wet dog and hot coffee.

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