Place Where You Live:

Observatory Point – Washington State

Waterview from trail near Observatory Point

       The trail at my place snakes beneath a canopy of regal Douglas firs and the sinewy arms of Pacific Madrone, their reddish bark peeling away like the skin from a bad sunburn. Overhead, a bald eagle chatters from the pinnacle of a dying Cedar, stretching its impressive wings against the sky. Farther along, the crashing waves of an incoming tide grow louder as the trees and flora begin to thin. Subtly, the view opens to expose the crimped seams of basalt cliffs along the coastline. The trail ends on a jutted point of rock where I stand 125 feet above the expansive waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
        Today, I am thrilled to see five sea otters gliding through the waves as they hunt for fish. One otter wrestles his bounty to shore while the others playfully roll in the tide. I note the rarity of the moment. Its grace. Their presence reminds me of the realness of isolation—what one must give up to live here—foregoing conventional habits and a continuous parade of manufactured conveniences.
       Unfortunately, the simpler way of life is losing ground. As more people locate here from the cities, the region’s unique, natural character is slowly succumbing to an urban brand of fear and homogenization. The need for home security systems. More pavement. Frantic calls to Fish and Wildlife when a cougar is sighted. Many have built large houses fronted with angry iron gates. The message is clear: stay away, animal and otherwise.
       Thus, I see the narrative moving toward a “me-oriented” focus on the land rather than as humble steward. We seem to forget one important fact: our lives are relatively short; our actions can live for centuries.
        For now, I stand on this rock with the hope that my ever-temporary home will remain resilient and sustainable, that it may continue to delight coming generations with pristine, awe-inspiring beauty. May this place not be stripped of its wild essence to evolve into one more cliché, no place special. Just another angry gate facing the sea.