I have feathers in my hair today, in a headband given to me by a dear friend this past Christmas. The feathers remind me of when I was little. My family and I would camp down the Oregon coast to Brookings. And when we’d go down to the beach, I’d put gulls’ feathers in my hair like I imagined a Native American, or Ariel of The Tempest, would.
Then I’d pretend to be a sandpiper and do my dance. I’d scurry about, stiff-legged, occasionally halting to jot my beak (that didn’t exist) down into the sand.
That was so long ago.
I must write down this memory before it disappears, I mustn’t let it vanish like fog before the noon sun.
I’d explore the Rainbow Rock cave, dodging the tide. I’d gaze up high on the cliff, letting my eyes wander over the patterns of folded red and green jasper.
I’d climb to the top of Castle Rock, a jumble of huge boulders out in the ocean, only connected by the isthmus of tide pools and sand that sealed itself off at high tide.
Once, a bear growled at a six or so year-old, his voice echoing around the cave. My imagination ran away with me and I screeched, then my uncle felt bad. Now it is just a fun memory that I am told by others, though I do not remember it myself.
Last summer before Papa had the fatal fall I went down to the seashore alone, save for our two dogs on long leashes. I try to write something, get lost in everything, and end up sunbathing with the sand warming me, all the while attempting to watch the dogs so that they wouldn’t get into mischief.
I’d write of mischief, attempting to scribble out a novel called The Angel Kiss, a story I know nothing about. I’d write of a dancer in a white summer dress dancing down the beach. I’d write of a young man home for the summer from college, trying to decide what to do with his life and what major to pursue.
I’d write of it, only to hear later from fellow writers that the romance moved too quickly and I needed to slow it down. Can I never please anyone with the romances I write?
Later, they tell me it was good, and they were sorry if they sounded discouraging.
Will you write more on it? Carie asks. It was a great beginning.
I didn’t know how much would change after that camping trip. Nani was with us, Papa was back at their Medford house with caretakers. Then we heard he fell.
That was the beginning of the end of that summer.
The second ending began when one of my good friends moved far away the morning we got the phone call that Papa had passed away.
But that wasn’t the only summer in my life. It is spring now and a new summer is coming, and there are many summers of the past. I shall remember the smiles of my family, and I shall remember the sandpiper dance of a little girl.