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A Postcard From the Beach

January 9, 2012

Dateline—Seaside, Oregon. I’m drying out my shoes over the heater vent. I’d paused during this morning’s walk to talk with a woman standing beside an injured bird at the water’s edge.

A careless dog owner – some might say clueless, or dopey, or worse – came by with two unleashed dogs, and the dogs went after the bird. The one woman was clearly trying to attend to the bird, so I can’t even guess what was going through the dog owner’s mind as she watched but did nothing.

I fended off the dogs, who were easy enough to distract, one being stick-obsessed, but I’d turned my back to the sea. Suddenly, I’m standing in eight inches of water, and everyone else is scooting away, including the bird.

Oh, well. At least I could say I got caught in a sneaker wave, since my sneakers got wet. The signs that warn of “sneaker waves” here refer, of course, to something considerably more dangerous—waves that reach amoeba-like onto the beach and catch the unsuspecting, occasionally ending their lives.

Sneaker waves are like micro-tsunamis. But it’s a marvelous coast nonetheless. The surf, made of lines of breakers a dozen deep, is a constant roar. I could live with this in contrast to the surf where I lived for a season in Ocean City, Maryland, which was metronomic and maddening—I couldn’t wait to get back to the woods.

Interesting, too, to be in so wet a place again. It’s not just the sea. There are clouds and mist above the surf constantly, but much of the time there are also clouds and mist in the trees.

The sun almost came out once …

… That was yesterday. Last night, the full moon suddenly appeared, dispersing clouds as if defrosting a windshield.

This morning, I watched it turn buttery, then gold, sagging into an egg shape near the horizon. But there was an invisible bank of clouds that swallowed it first, in ragged bites, before it could fall into the sea.

I guess you had to be there. But it was lovely, so serene it seemed to quiet the surf.

This is just a postcard from the beach. Also, a board member emailed me and wondered if he’d missed something: The Mountain Mail had reported that the library district chose to reduce it’s mill levy for 2012.

Not quite. We have, in fact, made that choice many times in the past, but this year the mill levy is reduced only because we’re done paying off the construction bond for the 1997 addition.

There is also an additional dollar reduction because the assessed valuation for the library district dropped 6.5%. But we didn’t really choose either of these circumstances.

Although we did choose, in 1996, to pay the bond in 16 instead of 20 years, saving $100,000 in interest.

It’s a small point, but I know the question would have been asked, “Why did you choose to reduce the mill levy when assessed values are going down and more people want more things from the library?”

We didn’t. The library will remain open 7 days and 70 hours per week, and the budget for books, etc., actually went up. We look forward to a good and interesting year.

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