One of the things I love best about my job is the fact that on a fairly regular basis I get to go "adventuring," in this case, climbing around on rocks and down sandy cliffs.
Over the years I've visited Washaway Beach on several occasions as it is a fascinating place where essentially the ocean has eaten this small town over the last 50 or so years. I was up there again a few weeks back after not visiting really the last couple years and came back with this group of pix that was the basis of the photo essay we're running on the Life page this week. You could put it into the category of my ever expanding series of places without people pix. Here's what I wrote to go with the pix:
WASHAWAY BEACH — Teetering ever so close to the edge of the land is yet another home, ready to be eaten by the ocean, not unlike the soil that it rests on. Soon it too will be a pile of rubble some 15 feet below, its possesions waiting to be washed away.
So is the cycle at Washaway Beach, the section of land situated between North Cove and Tokeland in north Pacific County. For more than 50 years people have watched as the shoreline has cut unyieldingly further and further inland, taking home after home and mile after mile into the sea.
But after the people move on and the houses, cabins, shacks and trailers fall, what is left behind, if ever so briefly, to tell their tale? An old easy chair here, some clothes or a cup there. Broken window frames and picture frames. Temporary, transient reminders.
Some return to find a piece of furniture from home and set up a make-shift place to watch the waves roll on, like they did from their living room once. A bright colored child’s toy stands out solemnly amongst a swath of sun-faded driftwood. Bent and broken pipes that once provided utility services now bend easily into the surf as silent sentinels to the land.
And while in some cases the remnants are used for future good — like old stumps that help support the fortification of old Hwy. 105 — in other areas people see the debris as license to further the mess by dumping garbage on the already polluted shore. While some see it as an oddity, others see it as their home. Perhaps the song “Anatevka” from “Fiddler on the Roof” describes it best:
“So, what’s a stove? Or a house? People who pass through Anatevka don’t even know they’ve been here. A stick of wood. A piece of cloth.
“What do we leave? Nothing much. Only Anatevka.”
So what is left behind after the fall? Only Washaway Beach.