Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Welcoming the new year

What's the best way to welcome the new year?

On the farm, my family and I always liked to go for a long drive or a long walk, as weather permitted. If our roads were snowed in, and snow too deep to walk, then skidoos were used to travel the fields.

Whether by vehicle or foot, usually a few wild animals were seen along the way.

Being far from home and the family farm, I decided the best thing to do yesterday was to drive to the Oregon coast. I was curious to see the damage from some of the bad storms that have hit there in the last few weeks, but I also was drawn to the beauty of the coast and the chance to see whales this time of year as they migrate south.

Along the way, between Salem and Lincoln City, there was evidence that a fair bit of trees had been knocked down and cleaned up along the highway. In Lincoln City itself, there are still some missing signs that need to be replaced, a few roofs are being repaired, and there is evidence that trees got knocked down here and there. But for the most part, the town appears to have done surprisingly well in either avoiding direct damage or in recovering quickly from winds that had reached hurricane strength there.

From Lincoln City to Newport there are more signs of trees taking the brunt of the wind, but again, clean up has gone well in the majority of the areas. Restaurants and some other businesses open yesterday did well with business from local people as well as visiting tourists.

It was cloudy, dry and windy at the coast, keeping most people away from walking the beaches, but there were two groups that did venture out: surfers and whale-watchers. Along the coast in several places there were people with binoculars, long zoom lenses, and a a lot of patience.

They scanned the horizon hoping to see the familiar spouts of water going up to reveal where the whales were in the water. Occasionally, if people are lucky, they might actually see part of the whales as they swim or dive.

I saw only a few spouts. When the water is calm, it's a lot easier to spot the whales. However, this definitely was the time to see the whales. This past week is one of the best times to see them migrate, when the largest number travel south.

The sun was mostly clouded over, but the shimmering of the sun's rays on the ocean's surface really gave a surreal beauty to the day.

After the sun set, smaller fishing boats began to return to Newport. The cries of sea gulls and the barking of sea lions welcomed each boat that slowed chugged towards the processing plants. By this morning, their catch will start to appear in markets up and down the west Coast.

Gazing at this watery world far from the fields I had explored on past New Year's Days, I thought about how different parts of the country welcome the new year through their traditions, lifestyles and careers.

Back on the farm, on New Years Eve, my family had welcomed a new calf born a bit earlier in the season than usual. In the city, some people in the neighborhood had cheered and shot off mostly illegal fireworks for several hours. At the coast, the fishing boats prepared their boats to harvest fish and crabs.

Welcome, 2008, may it be a good year to all — no matter where people are and what they do.

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threecollie said...

Happy New Year to you and yours. That is a very lovely post and a delightful photograph. We have been reading about the devastation out there from flooding...awful!

Elaine Shein said...

Thanks for your comments -- and best wishes for 2008 to your family and you. Hopefully the weather hasn't been too terrible out your way .. I think of you every time I hear of big storms hitting the eastern part of the country.

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