My husband and I first came to Lincoln City, Oregon, 38 years ago on our honeymoon. With just a few exceptions, we’ve managed to make it back every year since then. There are constants here, and there are also changes. We still look for agates. I still take my traditional run on the beach (although I’m slower and don’t go near as far as I did 38 years ago). The ocean still reaches out to play with me and offer me her gifts. She still helps me put all my human distresses in perspective. I guess the ocean hasn’t changed so much – the changes have been mostly in the humans who visit her.
As I do every time I come here, I searched for treasure – agates, and new friends, and renewal. I ran into other treasure-hunters, too: There was Doug with his metal detector, scouring the sand for traces of gold and silver (he said he’d found three rings in the last week!); there was the lady from Salem, Oregon, looking for sea glass; there was the couple from Mount Vernon, Washington (15 minutes from where we live!), looking for rocks of different colors to make a map of the United States; there was the local woman who was looking for rocks of different patterns to use in her smudging ceremonies; there was Allen looking for the treasure of a good wind to sail his kite; there was Blanca looking for rocks with red in them; and there were the pups, Ryley and Reggie, looking for sticks and friendly people and things with interesting smells.
The agates glowed up at me from their pebbly beds – it’s always such a joy to find them – these gifts from the ocean. One big blue agate literally leaped out of a wave and landed at my feet. It was like he was saying, “Here I am! Here I am!” That was pretty fun.
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour…” -William Blake
When I was in fourth grade my teacher, Mr. Whittle, loaded us all up on a bus and took us to a hill near Tenino, Washington, where we took out shovels and proceeded to dig for agates. I knew a little something about agates before we went to Tenino – my dad’s a geologist and he introduced me to Rock Basics – obsidian, pumice, quartz, granite, petrified wood, and agates. But actually having the opportunity to get out a shovel and dig for my own agate-treasure kindled in me the beginnings of an agate addiction.
Later – when I was in my early twenties – I would now and then visit my beloved Aunt Junie on the Oregon coast. Junie taught me the art of beach agate-hunting. The trick, she showed me, is to scan over the beach while you’re facing towards the sun – the agates glow as the sun shines through them, and they pop out at you. When I married my husband, I showed him the art of agate-hunting, too, and on our annual pilgrimages to the Oregon coast agate-hunting became one of our favorite pastimes.
After I became a middle school teacher I used the agates we found as Christmas gifts for my students. I’d call my students up one-by-one, and tell them to pick out one agate from my agate bowl that “spoke to them” – this was their “magic agate” and they were to keep their agates forever and every time they looked at them remember how much I loved them. Then I’d take a moment while my students were holding their agates in front of their classmates to tell each of them what I loved about them. Every now and then I run into students I had years ago who make a point of letting me know they still have their “magic agates.” That means a lot to me.
This week my husband and I once again made our annual pilgrimage to the Oregon coast – and lookee what I found… 🙂