Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mushrooms and fungi and slugs, oh my!!

Dorothy, we're not in Tuscany any more! Since the last time I blogged, I have returned home to Chicago, worked for a month and climbed back on a plane to Seattle. One can infer from this that I do not blog during work weeks and that I travel a lot. So what do slugs have to do with this?

Today, I am posting from the Pacific Northwest coast near Pacific Beach, Washington. This is a marked contrast to the beaches of Italy. For one, it is not hot, there are no crowds, no beach umbrellas and one is more likely to see a banana slug than a topless woman sunning herself. (I deny all responsibility for that free association). Fortunately the banana slug was willing to pose for a picture.

As I walked back from the beach today, I thought of naming today's blog, "This land is my land. . ." Not that I claim ownership. More that it owns me. These are the beaches that I grew up on. The water is numbingly cold and it is nearly impossible to get a tan. But I feel a sense of belonging on these beaches.

As a child, I used to backpack near here. At night we would camp on the beach and listen to the waves and the foghorn. During the days we would explore the sea stacks, climb on the piles of driftwood logs and look for agates and sea shells. One of my favorite memories is of finding a floating log in a small creek flowing into the ocean and spending much of a day poling it around.

Sometimes sharing these places and experiences with my own children makes me feel closer to this land. Other times I realize how far away I have moved. Today I learned that my younger son is afraid of kelp. How can that be? I guess we do not have kelp in Lake Michigan. I suppose kelp is a little slimy (but not compared to the above-mentioned slug), but it does have its charms. Did you know that you can make a pipe out of a large piece of kelp and blow on it like a ram's horn? Smaller kelp are fun to pop, like bubble wrap.

As elsewhere, sometimes people manage to spoil paradise. Some 15 miles from here is Ocean Shores. This is a small town with an incredibly long sandy beach. Since the beach is open to vehicles, from motor bikes to SUV's to campers, it more resembles the parking lots outside Disneyland than a chance to commune with nature. If any kelp are left on this beach, they have surely all been popped.

So don't come visit here, unless you plan on walking softly and parking well away from the beach. And bring a jacket and rain gear. You likely will need it.

Until next time. Posted by Picasa

No comments: