Paradise Found - Oswald West, Oregon Coast - January 22nd, 2017
Sunshine after a brief bout of thunder, lightening, and hail at the coast yesterday. Always such a thrill to be out in nature, even when the weather doesn’t know what it wants to do
⚘ Photography by Haley Willner
During the 1960s, octopus wrestling was a popular sport in the West Coast of the United States. It involved a diver grappling with an octopus in shallow waters before dragging it to the shore. In fact, there was even an annual World Octopus Wrestling Championship which would be held in Washington. When the so-called sportsmen were done with the octopuses, they would then either eat them, give them to an aquarium, or return them to the sea.
This is the kind of picture to which people tend to write nice quotes about love, friendship, soul, trust, life, universe and everything… but I don’t have any on my mind right now. Feel free to add yours.
An impossibly large log floats in the water. It floats independently from the direction of the current. You wonder dimly where it came from and where it’s going.
You take a walk down the beach, your dog trotting by your side. You set your destination for a dock in the distance. You walk for hours, days, years. You keep walking, your dog no longer by your side, your body no longer young. You briefly wonder if your family misses you. The dock seems to taunt you, the distance unchanged.
Trees shake and groan in the forest. Birds scatter away. You hear the sound of root systems being ripped from the earth. There is no wind.
It has been raining for years. Rain hits windshields with such force and volume that drivers can no longer see. The drivers faces seem relaxed, almost happy. They are being driven, not by themselves, but by a force they cannot even begin to fathom. Occasionally their cars hydroplanes. It does not matter. They are not in control.
You see a woman in jeans and a hoodie tentatively touch the water. You see her flinch back. You see this woman wade into the water. You see her teeth chattering from the cold. You see the woman walk uneasily into the water, immersing herself fully. You can’t see the woman any longer.
A man at the beach is feeding seagulls from his car. He throws bread and seeds out his window, a flock of bird gathering. His eyes are unfocused, his brow furrowed into an emotion that borders between concern and fear. If you were to approach him, you would hear his breathless murmuring. You do not approach him.
In the distance you hear a train horn blaring. You hear it get progressively louder, accompanied by the deep rumbling of the earth below you. When was the last time you saw train tracks. When was the last time you saw a train.
All the fire pits at the beach are occupied. Families are gathered around, sitting on beached logs and rocks. They sit for hours, their smiles large and eyes wrinkled with mirth at the corners. The fire has long since gone out. They sit, eyes glazed over, staring and holding their hand over the cold, ashed earth.
You pick up rocks at the beach. You pick up rocks with no purpose. Occasionally you spot dozens of crabs scrambling from under it. You put the rocks back.
You see your friend wearing socks and sandals. “They’re comfortable!” they say, more to themself than to you. Their eyes are dead, their smile white and empty. At least they are comfortable.
It is 65 degrees out. There is no sun, there is no breeze, there is nothing but the croaking of an infinite amount of frogs. With every breath, the noise seems to be drawing closer. You are frozen to your spot.
It is raining and you are alone on the beach. Where did everyone go. Where did the sun go.