Monday, October 31, 2011

Signs of Fall at Simpson Reef

Oregon coast, USA: Oct 21, 2011
Tide is out. Pewter sea and pewter sky. Hundreds of sea lions laze about. The air is filled with the barking of California sea lions and the deep rumbles from Steller sea lions. Nine elephant seals and a few harbor seals. A great blue heron fishes in the shallows. We also see harlequin ducks, oystercatchers, pelagic cormorants, gulls.

Two flocks of geese have flown south over us. I hoped the first were brandts, but I couldn’t tell. The second were definitely cackling geese, probably Aleutians.

Mellow here today. Slight breeze. Shirt sleeve weather. Smells of salt and seaweeds and sea lions in the air. Very gentle surf. It hardly breaks upon reaching the shoreline. Mellow in so many ways, yet bursting with life. A thousand sea lions are not a quiet bunch. The jostle and bark and splash. When we arrived the majority were on the flat, sandy beach; but shortly afterwards they went into one of their mad scrambles for the water. A split down the center of the beach quickly widened into a gap and finally wide open space except for the handful of elephant seals who slumbered on. What causes the sea lions to rush into the ocean? There isn’t any predator able to take one on the beach. My best explanation is a sand flea bites one in a sensitive spot, he yelps, and all hell breaks loose.

Low tide is about now. It is low enough to expose a few bright orange star fish just above the water line. Late summer the kelp beds are at their best. Now, at low tide, we see bits of kelp floating on the surface. A good storm will rip out tons of their long fronds and pile them on the beach.

A great blue heron slowly stalks, searching in the shallow water between exposed rocks. I watch his slow progress until he disappears behind one of the larger boulders. Nearby three harlequin ducks bob on the gentle wavelets. It looks as though three is a crowd. One of the drakes soon chases the other drake off.
I savor the moment – the sounds, the smells, and so much to look at. In summer it is usually windy here. In winter it is often too chilly for comfortable drawing. Today I can draw to my heart's content.


  1. Geesh, I sat here looking at your first painting wondering if it was a photo or a painting and I'm still not sure. Just a fabulous piece of art.
    You see the most wonderful things and I am so happy you share it with us! Thank you.

  2. At first I thought it was solitude...until you spoke of the jostling and barking. Instead, I think what I'm feeling is a touch of serenity. How you managed to impart that from your words, I do not know, but I step away with a sense of contentment.