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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« beachcombing, part two | Main | stoned »

beachcombing, part one

This morning, Jeff and I were woken by the smoke alarm around 3 a.m.

Both of us tensed, but the alarm only sounded for a few seconds before falling silent again. Weird. Neither of us could smell smoke, and then Jeff noticed that the power had just gone off. Almost immediately, we could hear a generator starting up with a steady (and loud) thrumming. It was clear that the power had gone off, started up briefly (making the smoke alarm beep a few times), then shut off again. We fell asleep again, hoping that the power would be on when we woke up.

It wasn't.

Around 7 a.m., I got restless and decided to go out for a walk on the fog-covered beach while Jeff kept sleeping. Sometimes people ask Jeff and me what useful "couple advice" we've learned in our ten years of marriage. One of the best pieces of advice would be to make sure that both partners be able to pursue solitary time and interests as well as joint. I know of couples who seem not to be able to do anything apart, joined at the hip, having identical friends and activities. As romantic as this may sound, I think it would drive me nuts. :-)

Jeff and I do share the same circle of friends and do many things together, but we each also have friends of our own, and have our own interests which we enjoy pursuing. We also both share a love of solitude, and understand that sometimes this means that we need time alone, without the other person. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with our friendship; it just means that we each also enjoy our own space and quiet solitude time.

I walked on the beach for about an hour. There weren't many other people out that early...only a few joggers who appeared briefly before vanishing again into the fog, the sound of their running shoes slapping against the sand lingering a few minutes before fading as well.

During our stay, I've found that one of things I enjoy most about beach-walking is looking for interesting things that the tide leaves behind. I took photos of anything vaguely interesting, and have posted some here on this page for you to peruse.

Yesterday, I finally perused some of the books on the mantelpiece more closely, more interested in local flora and fauna now that we've had a chance to look around. Books I've been browsing:

-- Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Pojar and Mackinnon (1994, Lone Pine).

-- National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, third edition.

-- Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest by Rick Harbo (1999, Harbour Publishing)

-- Whales of the West Coast by David Spalding (1998, Harbour Publishing.

I sat for about a half hour at a small tidal pool in a rock crevice on the beach, just watching all the wildlife. Upon cursory glance, it's just an ordinary puddle of water. Examining it closely, however, revealed an incredible variety of plant and animal life -- VERYvery cool.

When my stomach began grumbling, I headed back to the Inn. Despite the lack of power, the restaurant was still able to serve me a full breakfast...I was pretty impressed. There was no breakfast special; one of the waitresses explained that the chef had told her that this morning's breakfast special was having breakfast at all. :-)

I brought a book to read over my grilled tenderloin and eggs, but ended up just looking out at the ocean instead. I can read anytime; how many more times will I be able to eat breakfast beside the ocean?

I am going to break precedent and extend my Blatherings over two entries today, since I still haven't said anything about our trip to Long Beach and Ucluelet yesterday.

Stay tuned for another Blathering very soon today...

Today's Blatherpics

- Anemones. I think these are Buried Anemones (at least they match the picture in the book :)). When the tide recedes, these look pretty sad and dead.

- Me on the beach (I held the camera up and took a photo of myself). Obviously, I just got out of bed.

- Mussel (Pacific Blue Mussel?). This one was open, which I found interesting. Not sure if this means it was dead or not. Note the acorn barnacles encrusting the shell.

- Black Turban Snail (I think). According to a book, this species has been estimated to live as long as 80-100 years (!).

- Ochre Star (also known as Purple sea star, or common sea star). It feeds on mussels, barnacles, limpets and snails. Lifespan of 20 years or more. Sea stars are supposed to have impressive regenerative abilities...with a portion of the central disc intact, the animal can recover and grow a full new body.

- Some kind of crab. It looks like it's upside down, so I suppose it must be dead...though there were several upside-down crabs in this tidepool, which is kind of weird.

- Bull kelp (I think). The stalk grows to 65' (20 m) long. These huge things can be found all over the beach, and a pile of them looks almost like some kind of multi-tentacled sea creature. Whenever I came across one, it was inevitably covered in tiny beach hoppers (tiny crustaceans) which all hop away and hide at my approach. There was also a lot of feather boa kelp.

- Some kind of slug-type thing. Couldn't find this in the marine life guide.

- The small tidal pool where I was checking out all the action. :-)

Feel free to suggest a daily poll question.

Today's Poll:

If you hear a fire alarm go off in your building (or hotel, if you don't live in an apartment) and don't smell smoke, do you tend to ignore it or wait for a building announcement rather than evacuate?

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