This summer I made a trek back to the Oregon coast of my childhood. We journeyed along rivers and train tracks and through mountains and forests that, unlike the university I attended when I first moved to Utah and the city in which I still live there, seem to remain unchanged.
Although I didn’t have a chance to see my hometown this visit–and haven’t been there for over 20 years–seeing as how it is Oregon, I imagine it, like most of the coastal towns we passed through on our way up the coast are not as drastically impacted by the years as many other places I know and no longer recognize. The state of Oregon is intentionally careful and deliberate about change. Last I know they had an actual organization led by people dedicated to preserve the green space and particularly the family farms I still remember from my childhood.
In any case, what’s beautiful to me is how familiar the windy path along the river still felt, even after over 25 years. How comforting I found the lush thick growth of forest, the safe green canopies of trees overhead, the damp, wet air. I breathed better than I have, well, probably since I returned to Finland two summers ago. Perhaps one of the reasons I love Finland so is that it reminds me of home.
For many it is easy to enjoy a calm light blue ocean on a clear sandy beach where you are warmed through and through by sun-soaked sand from below and a warm sun shining down from a near cloud-less deep blue sky.
It takes a special soul to fall in love with the rugged rocks, roaring surf and sometimes piercing cold wind of the usually grey-skied NW coast. Passersby may enjoy its scenic beauty from afar. But to love it enough to spend a day there. On the cold wet sand. To walk or even swim in the water cold enough to make the Pacific in San Diego in December feel balmy.
And to want to spend another day there.
And more days every chance you get.
It’s soul-deep, whatever it is that makes that home to a person.
But my favorite thing about going back this time was being able to share this place with two more generations for the very first time. To note that to them it was just the same as it was to me when I left it some 30 years ago.
Even though we were only there for a couple of hours, it did my heart good to watch as Luke and Emily and James made their way up to the lighthouse. And then back down to the water. And as James, who loves sand, but generally runs away from the ocean, slowly made his way to the waterline. And didn’t run away. But found a stick. And dug in the mud. And laughed.