Rising out of the sand and seawater on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast, around a hundred ancient decaying stumps stand sentinel. Dubbed the Neskowin Ghost Forest, they are an eerily beautiful memento of the towering Sitka spruce trees that stood here for some two millennia.
For centuries, these old stumps were hidden under the sand. Peeking above the surf only briefly every few decades, the ghost forest was little more than a local legend. Then, in the winter of 1997-98, the coast was pummeled by powerful storms that eroded away the sands and exposed the uncanny natural wonder that was buried beneath.
Geologists theorize that the ancient trees, carbon dated to around 2,000 years old, were felled during the major earthquake that hit the Cascadia subduction zone in 1700. The earthquake dropped the forested land into the tidal zone. When the ocean water rushed in, it buried the decapitated trunks in the mud, which staved off decay and preserved the forest remains for the years to come.
Before they met their watery fate, the mighty trees stood around 150 to 200 feet tall. Today, the petrified relics of those giants share the beach with small tide pools and various marine life. The phantom-like forest is revealed by the shallow waters of low tide, and more and more ancient stumps become exposed when the tide is at its lowest during the summer. – https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/neskowin-ghost-forest
We made it. It has been an exhausting & emotional month, and still lots more to do, but the drive down the coast with Crystal to Walmart this evening to get some basic supplies affirmed it all for me.
Since I was a small child, I have had a recurring dream. Thousands of times as I have drifted off to sleep, I am walking through a series of hallways. White hallways that are rounded and smooth instead of rectangular. They look organic in nature; almost as if they were dug by a creature, not engineered by man. White, smooth floors and walls with small lanterns of light on the walls from time to time; not in a discernable pattern. Just enough to illuminate our path.
I am in a group of other kids all dressed in saffron robes. It looks like we are all the same age. I look down and notice I am also wearing the same robes and a pair of sandals. That’s not really the right word for them, though. They are leather sandals that continue up my legs like boots. On the inside of each of my lower legs are leather loops. I have tattoos on my arms and hands. I don’t remember how they got there or even how I got here.
I follow the group of kids around me. We walk through more tunnels and I start to smell fresh air and feel a slight breeze. I can tell that we are walking upward. We reach an opening onto a large terrace on a cliff. We are so high I can only see clouds and sky.
At the edge of the terrace, there is a circular, stone platform. Another child steps onto it. As he does, the symbol below his feet illuminates, but slowly, so do his tattoos. Illuminating from his hands, up to his arm, and even onto the back of his neck, disappearing under his long black hair. They look very similar to mine, but not quite the same. He looks so peaceful, almost like he is in deep meditation. He puts his arms down to his side and points his head toward the sky with his eyes closed. I hear a low, deep noise start….kind of like an energy building up. whooooom whoooooom whoooooom whoooom. It gets quicker and quicker. It’s such a deep sound that I can feel it in my chest.
Suddenly he launches, like a missle, into the sky. I am so shocked, but everyone else is calm. Other than the sound of the constant wind around us, it is completely silent. Mo one speaks. It feels like they are anticipating something, but I don’t know what. I peer into the clouds, listening so intently, wondering, “what I have just witnessed?” and, “will the same happen to me? Am I supposed to do this as well?!” Then there is a flutter of sound in the distance and what sounds like someone screaming. All the kids around me yell and shout with joy.
The adult standing by the platform motions at me to step onto the platform. The group grows quiet again. I reluctantly step forward. As I step on the platform, my feet on the symbol etched into the stone, I immediately feel an energy building at my feet, and then it moves up my body in waves, just like I had heard from before. Like the child before me, my tattoos begin to illuminate. I can feel an energy building deep inside of me. I feel frightened, but I remember the child before me being so calm. How is he so calm? I decide to have faith in whatever this is. I arch my chest, take a deep breath, and lean my head back as I observed the child before doing. I close my eyes and feel a sense of calm wash over me as the sound builds in volume and speed. whooooom whoooooom whoooooom whoooom. It feels as though gravity itself starts to fade away. I start to feel what feels like static build around me. My hairs on my neck and arms stand on end and WHOOM!
I am flying through the air – so high. I open my eyes and I can see the clouds flowing past me, across my face, through my hair, between my fingers and toes. The air is so fresh. I feel so peaceful. I can hear something ruffling in the clouds beside me, above me, below me. It sounds like a large piece of fabric rustling in the wind. I feel a presence of some kind. Looking to the left and right of me, I don’t see anything. I still hear something moving. I look below me and I can see a shape in the clouds, something moving. It sways to the left and to the right, getting closer and closer to me. I can feel myself sinking in the sky.
As I start to descend, the shape moves closer beneath me. I feel like someone is there with me. Just as I start to feel myself crest and start to descend through the clouds, the creature rises to match my speed and trajectory. I softly come to rest upon its back, realizing now that it is a winged beast. It’s covered in what feels like the softest feathers I have ever felt. Like feathers but also like the fur of a rabbit.
As I look for somewhere to hang on, I feel some strapping just beneath the feathers. I pull on it and see that it is a leather harness with straps that extend downward and around the beast. As I look down beneath its wings, I can see two metal protrusions. I realize now the purpose of my special footwear. They are riding boots. I slip the loops over the metal braces. Tracing the shape of the harness up I also find another metal piece to hold onto. I lock into the harness and almost by instinct, I pull up and back on the handle. As I do the creature pulls up and flaps its wings vigorously, ascending into the sky even higher. The sun blocks my view as I place my hand over my face to shield the brightness. As my eyes get accustomed to the sun, we clear the clouds and I can see many more of the pure white beasts with saffron riders atop them. I can hear shouts of joy as the other riders perform aerial acrobatics. They are in a state of joy. A state of bliss. I pull back on the harness and start a dive through the clouds to join them.
I wake up, a huge smile on my face.
When I am gone, release me & let me go.
Please don’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,
just be thankful for so many good years.
I tried to give you love without it gracing your ears,
but you can only begin to guess,
how much you’ve given me,
But now it’s time I traveled alone.
I’ve so many things to see and do,
So many journeys — to lands unknown.
So in a way, you see,
life goes on.
If you ever find that you need me.
Listen with your heart
and you’ll know I’m there,
all around you.
in the still. in the quiet. in the clear.
when you come this way alone,
I’ll greet you at the head of the trail ,
with an extra walking stick,
and I’ll simply say, “what you been doing?”.
I love you, Hershel. 💜
We’ll see you down the road.