Mother Nature has been on a rampage here on the Oregon Coast for the past month, dumping rainfall in a deluge that makes a monsoon seem cozy. Between heavy rain, wind, rising tide waters, landslides, flooded highways, and mud clads, spending time outside is strictly on a “have to” basis. This puts a big damper on taking care of daily farm chores, going for a walk, or even getting groceries into the house without turning those flimsy plastics bags into water balloons.
Being indoors so much for too long makes me stir-crazy. Eventually, my frustration with the weather leads to some pretty big talk such as, “I won’t let a little rain stop me” and resolve to do something I love outdoors. Sometimes this adventurous attitude paves the way to a wonderful, memorable experience and sometimes, not so much.
So one good experience happened last week when we were having particularly fierce wind and rain. I picked up my daughter after school, then drove out to the beach to walk the trails above the rocks and watch waves. It wasn’t the best storm show we’ve witnessed because the waves were just beginning to gain momentum. But, it was exhilarating to let the rain pelt us as we stood on the lookouts watching the ocean whip over rocks and craggy outcroppings. We laughed at the storm and dared the waves to build. We tried to guess which of our fellow storm watchers were locals and which were from out of town. Locals tend to just wear jackets with hoods while tourists like to wrestle with umbrellas, which is entertaining to watch all on its own. We had our phone cameras clicking and walked along the trails for almost two hours trying to get the best view. It was a perfect afternoon together, thanks to a very wicked winter day.
Then there was the trek on Saturday that didn’t end up quite so picture perfect. We got a reprieve from the rain for a few hours, so I talked my daughter into going on a nature walk around the bay. There is a nicely maintained walking trail that runs about a mile around the bay with gorgeous wetland views about two miles from our farm. I wanted to take some wildlife photos and there are usually many different small shore birds, egrets, and herons in the area. As we were getting on our shoes and jackets, my husband put in an objection to my plan, saying it wasn’t a good idea because the trail would still be flooded from recent downpours. Not to be deterred, I promised not to walk the trail if it looked “too muddy,” I just wanted to get out, snap a couple photos, and breathe some fresh air. Simple, right? So we drive to the trail and there are people already returning from their walk so it looks promising. We get to the trailhead, where everything looks luscious and green with no mud puddles in sight. I look over at my daughter and say, “We’re good to go!” She gives me a doubtful series of eye rolls but steps forward along with me.
We walked a good pace and talked about day-to-day stuff, peered at the bridge off in the distance and watched for wildlife. It is really quiet and we didn’t run into any other walkers on the trail. About 15 minutes into it, I think I hear some rustling in the bushes so we stop to see if it’s a photo opportunity. The rustling is replaced with a “huff” noise, which sounds like a dog out of breath. I immediately feel uneasy because I’m not a huge fan of meeting strange dogs out in the middle of nowhere, especially ones that are off the leash and in the brush. I scoot my daughter to my side, in case I need room to throw a wild kick. I calmly tell her that it’s probably nothing, but let’s walk a bit faster. Luckily, the mystery animal never came out of the reeds and lost interest in following us. In a couple minutes, I was able to turn down my freak-out radar to normal.
We continued to walk another half mile and we see the first wildlife of the trip: a dead nutria. Freshly expired and sprawled across the trail, it’s obscenely long tail made me cringe, but my daughter insisted we stop to take a photo of it. We are now three-quarters of the way around the trail and the next corner surprised us with a mud pit about three inches deep across the entire width of the trail. We either have to cross it or go all the way back where we just came: past the dead nutria and the huffing animal in the brush. I voted for crossing the mud, explaining to my daughter that it’s probably the only low lying area we will run into. How wrong, I was. The next 600 feet of trail is rainwater pooled into a muck stew. At one point someone had built a small bridge across the trail out of fallen branches to keep from sinking into 5 inches of saturated soil. Needless to say, it was a miserable ten more minutes to the end of the trail. We had muddy pant legs, soaked shoes and sloshy socks. When we finally got to the car, my daughter was aggravated, I felt like a dork, and still had to go home while wearing the proof that my husband was ultimately right. That would be worse than scrubbing mud off our tennis shoes.
It has rained all day today, but I’m taking it easy inside the house today. I think one win and one loss is good enough for my adventure tally for now. I will just keep the pellet stove burning and remember the wise words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Into each life, some rain must fall.”