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Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Reluctant Return from the South Coast

Compare and contrast these two portraits.
The first is an orangutan kept captive in a zoo.

The second is me, a lab technician who has demonstrated a record of reliable attendance.

Oh wait.

One advantage I have over the orangutan is my relative freedom to get in my car and take a road-trip (whenever work and finances allow).

We hominids have done some useful things with our brains. We’ve built shelters that protect our things, our work and even ourselves from the environment. But with our usual shortsightedness, we didn’t anticipate that the subliminal hum of ballasts and the flickering hellish green cast of fluorescent lamps would drive some of us bonkers.

Every once in a while I miss the sky.

Careful observation has revealed that in our universe, generally, everything is progressing from order to disorder. But there are lots of eddies - places were energy gets sucked into swirling vortexes - where, briefly, order can arise from disorder. Everyday, most of us make some small contribution to order, but we are inefficient, and the order we create costs dearly in resources and energy. Our biggest product appears to be waste.

It may be a side effect of getting older, but it is hard to keep hoping that something good is just over the horizon.

It feels like a storm is coming.

Even so, when presented with a dense, dark forest, we continue to hack our way through the underbrush and take stabs at cutting out our own spaces and trying to make something we think is beautiful. (Of course when I say ‘we’ I mean somebody besides me, because I’m pretty sure I haven’t made any beautiful gardens.)

Cape Arago - Shore Acres - Seasonal Garden

Cape Arago - Shore Acres - Seasonal Garden

Over the course of my life, I’ve occasionally tried to keep various fish alive in water filled glass tanks. It always seems that something goes out of balance, and by the time I recognize it, it is too late for the fish.

The lesson I suppose is that once one starts a garden, it is crucial to monitor it and maintain it.

I have no illusion about road-trips being some kind of escape into the wilderness. They’re not. I utilize an extensive system of roads and trails. I carry with me sophisticated equipment for survival. I eat packaged foods that are safe and sometimes even nutritious. It’s clear to me that I’m not exactly a free, self sufficient mountain man.

So I guess what road trips do for me is remind me that our hard or tedious jobs, red tape, bureaucracies, and FDA audits are the gardens we’ve made to protect us from the heartless and harsh economy of the wilderness.

North Spit – Coos Bay

Approaching the last vestiges of wilderness puts us in touch with the natural garden that shaped us.

North Spit – Coos Bay

Stern section of New Carissa – North Spit – Coos Bay

We can be reminded of lessons the ocean taught us…

…how wind and waves have formed us. . .

…how evolving brains have brought us the phenomenon of self consciousness and self reflection…

…to learn the rhythm of the tide…

…and explore an instant of geologic time…

Devil’s Punchbowl – Devil’s Punchbowl State Park – Oregon Coast

This Week's Song explores some of the possible consequences of continued short-sighted gardening.


  1. I thoroughly enjoy your blog Scott. Another good read, nice job on the photos... and funny!


  2. I have enjoyed it as well. Need to get me one of those cameras :)


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