Sunday, November 30, 2008

Garibaldi is a small town on Tillamook Bay, on the North Oregon Coast.

The City of Garibaldi was named for Guiseppe Garibaldi, liberator and unifier of Italy, and a world hero in the 1860's.

Founder of the town, Daniel A. Bailey. was a great admirer of Garibaldi the hero.

The town went through booms and busts, and is now enduring one of the latter.

Lumber mills and fishing have carried and grown the town, but both industries have suffered declines for years.

I have been going there for one or two days a week for almost 6 months, to manage the turnaround of a small motel and rv park property, of which I am a co-owner.

Getting to know local residents has been an interesting part of the job.

There is still a fishing business, crab is still caught, some lumber is still cut and hauled, but there are many in the town who have either not enough work or no work at all.

- - -

My wife and I watched small birds in brown, grey, rust, black and white in our backyard yesterday morning as they fluttered in and out, finding bits of food among the plants and shrubs.

The back yard is small, surrounded by tall arbor vitae, with no cats or dogs roaming the space.

The birds found what food they could in the late November fog.

- - -

The day before that was the day after Thanksgiving. I was in Garibaldi early that morning to work on the business, marketing to potential clients, checking on maintenance and upkeep, showing up.

That morning, a commercial crab boat had gone out early. It was not named the "Alexa" or the "Emily" or the "Beautiful Jane", it was named in a play on words, the "Network", for working the nets.

The three on board had said goodbye early that morning to family, and had talked with friends and greeted visitors on the docks, and while making their way out of the marina.

The sky was dry but cloudy. Wind was moderate. Visibility excellent.

Then, heading to close sea for larger carbs and a bigger haul, they pushed over the bar, cutting rough waves coming from several directions, they got hit by a wave from the side, were floundered, righted, then were hit by another wave that took the boat under.

One of the three on board was rescued, suffering from severe hypothermia. The other two were not found that day. They may never be found, and yet they were just at the mouth of the bay, on the border between protected waters and the open ocean. Not far out to sea. Close to shore.

These are the first losses I have seen since going to the town regularly, though that bar is one of the most dangerous in the world, and people die there from time to time.

And although I did not know the men on board, I knew enough people in town who knew them.

I shared a little of their silent pain.

The people I talked with showed resignation, sadness, but not shock. This happens to some of those who work the sea.

- - -

The next morning, I appreciated the grass and plants, the small birds, the sky, my wife, my kids, and my life.

I listened a little more to music, thought a little more about the sky and the sea.

The two men on board who were lost did not have a second chance. That was it.

But each morning when I wake, I get a second chance at doing a little better, doing more of something useful.

This won't change my life, but it will make me think about it for a few days.

I won't be going through it as blindly for a short while.

Though I won't remember it like the families and friends of the two who are gone.

- - -

As I watched the backyard, I briefly understood why my father has made so many sculptures of those same birds. They move in unhurried haste, unaware of external worries. They are not sitting still, mourning any loss or pain, they are engaged in life. Their balletic movements and light verse make us feel better about our lives.

- - -

No matter what we do, or fail to do, we still get another chance each day.

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