A chill holds Tillicum Beach campground beneath an iron sky this morning. The clouds on the horizon that etched such a breathtaking sunset crossed the Pacific Ocean during the night. When the hidden sun reaches directly overhead, the clouds will burn away, and our visit to the coast will become as warm as it was yesterday. Two chihuahuas curl together in my lap, and wait for the afternoon sun.
We arrived yesterday, after a romp through Newport, my favorite town in the world, and one we have visited at least every four weeks during the four years we have lived in Oregon. This trip culminates a three-month gap. Relatively, it has been a stay-at-home summer.
I enjoyed a flurry of gigs to kick off July—played a pub, a brewery and several wineries—but my musical career reached it’s pinnacle ten years ago. I no longer make my living playing this town, that town, and the next in any given week. To my surprise, I find a particular comfort in the decline of my musical life. It’s nice not to schlep gear from here to there four nights a week. I no longer eat my breakfast in Albuquerque and my dinner in Sacramento. Sooner or later I will find a venue in Corvallis that will invite me to drop in, sit on a stool, and satisfy my need to hear live acoustic blues once or twice a month. That would suit me...
… because T~ and I may remain in Corvallis longer than we thought. We are looking for a house to buy. She wants one with a potential to increase in value should we decide to sell in a year, when we know whether we’ll tag along behind our daughter and son-in-law when he receives his Ph.D, or we decide to move to the high desert of Eastern Oregon. The chance remains that we would stay put. In as much as T~ and I are not thrilled about living in Corvallis, I am beginning to understand its convenience.
Fifteen years on the Northern California coast, I acclimated to the damp and dark. Theresa and I loved it in Arcata. But then, we were both successful there, and could shuck off our reservations about the weather. On our spring trip to the other side of the Cascades, we explored a land forged by volcanos, enjoyed bright bursts of sunshine, and dry heat. This summer, the Willamette Valley seems enveloped in an uncharacteristic bubble of sun and heat. Wind knifes its way across the valley every evening at twenty-seven miles per hour, which, on a bicycle, makes for a tough climb from Corvallis to our home seven miles to the west. But in the afternoons I am forced under the shade of a fig tree. The white flesh of my Scottish ancestry is now burnt sienna. And I love it. In just half a summer, I have come to enjoy frying myself alive.
But I also love waking in the morning to a cold iron sky, with the thunder of the Pacific Ocean just twenty yards from the door of my motorhome.
Life in Corvallis changes everything I knew during my twenty-three years in California, and in a time of national, economic hardship, tests my ability make a decent living. But, a home in the central valley locates me conveniently to all the other locations I love, which, if I lived at a particular one, would locate me farther from the other.
So, with all of that, the redefining of myself, which I started four years ago, is still underway. When the reconstruction will be completed I do not know. I do know that construction work is hard.