Monday, August 8, 2011

Oregon Coast

Oregon, August 2011

I had an incredible opportunity to go to the Oregon coast a week ago. Along with three teachers from The Center for Inquiry, two research assistants from USC, a computer engineer and one of her doctoral students, Dr. Brian Helmuth and his wonderful daughter Morgan, we set off to learn and measure, to experience and now to teach about scientific inquiry into marine life and the effects of global climate change. We also got to spend a couple of those days with Jim Gandy and Nate Stewart from our local CBS affiliate WLTX.

I will write more about it later, but in the Portland airport as we were waiting to board our long flight home, the teachers and I were sharing curriculum ideas. Specifically we were talking about teaching poetry.

When we went back to our own thoughts and books and writer’s notebooks I wrote this poem about our experiences in that wonderful environment. I will write more later, but here is a taste of that…

Oregon Coast

The Pacific here

Once a vague postcard

Has taken on new meaning.

Once a blur,

An uncertain picture

A far away faint notion

Has come into focus clearly.

At first it was BEACH


LAND and

SEA and


But now I have shared its breath

Its smell is on my fingertips still

I have stared for hours

Into crystal tide pools

To find treasures

Hidden from my first grainy impressions

Each little pool

Holding complex webs of organisms

Interacting with each other

Logically, beautifully

Predictable yet

Each full

Of surprises

Hermit crabs,

Bright green sea anemones

Orange and purple sea stars





Isopods, mussels,

Tiny darting fish,

Limpets and snails

And so much more.

All in

Less than

One cubic

Foot of


Each has its own story,

Its own cycle

And each fits perfectly

Into the balance




Then looking up and out

At the gulls and crows

And vultures and

Great blue herons

And pelicans

And curious sea lions

Spying on us

From a


Now I am AWAKE


And there is this blend of

Mystical and scientific,

Magical and measurable,

Tangible and intangible.

Now it is truly beautiful.

Every animal here is

Perfect in its place

Every creature plays

An essential role.

And every creature

In every tide pool

Is part of that shoreline

That beach

That ocean

This earth.


Emily Whitecotton said...

1. Super jealous.
2. I love the way that you framed the poem. It was like walking into that postcard, Alice style, but the scenery was not the only thing that came alive. You did, too. Thank you for sharing this trip through your lens. I also enjoyed the dichotomies coming together. "Magical and measurable." All too often, I think that so much of our world is boxed so that we, humans, can feel like we have an understanding. When really, true understanding comes from embracing the complexity inherent in the world. I think the honoring of that complexity is what makes your poem so powerful. Thank you for sharing. Hope you had a great first week back with your kids!

Mamafamilias said...

What a delightful way to finish up the summer! I wish I could be there to benefit from it as I'm sure your new students will this year. Loved the poem and the pictures.

Hope you have a good year. Maybe one of these days when I'm down that way, you won't mind if I come visit your class. I still miss my kindergarten class room sometimes.

(P.S. - glad you got to get some new first day of school clothes and stuff.)