The Makah Marina is shown in Neah Bay with Waadah Island and the mountains of Vancouver Island providing a backdrop. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

WEST END NEIGHBOR: Winter wanes as new chapters open

WASN’T THE SUN a beautiful sight Sunday afternoon?

The northern part of the West End on the Makah reservation seemed to embrace the relative warmth of the last day of winter.

While lying in the warm, damp sand of Hobuck Beach, waves gently folded onto the sand a few feet from my head.

In the distance, I heard the laughter of a small child and the cries of seagulls.

I thought about how the world felt happier when the sun is warming my back.

Standing up to brush the sand off, I saw a few small groups of people enjoying the beach, though given the beach’s size, it looked nearly empty.

I walked back to my car across sand still dimpled from recent rain.

Some would say I was guilty of Sunday driving while slowly cruising along Tsoo Yess Beach Road and back toward the main village.

This is the same road that goes past the Shi Shi Beach trailhead and ends at the Makah National Fish Hatchery.

Cows, horses and dogs all struck relaxed poses in the warm sunshine.

Young kids climbed on a car in a front yard.

A bit farther down the road, a young couple held hands while walking along the sandy shore of the Sooes River not far from a smoky campfire.

While I drove, I listened to the 53rd annual Quillayute Valley School District Scholarship Auction in Forks over Forks radio KBDB 96.7 FM.

I was listening when a 2002 Mazda sedan donated by Wilder Auto Center in Port Angeles was auctioned off, adding $4,000 to the scholarship fund.

Several homemade pies were sold for hundreds of dollars, including one apple pie that went for $250.

Forks City Attorney Rod Fleck was an enthusiastic auctioneer for some of the other items, including several hay bales donated by Darrel Gaydeski.

Fleck and other West End residents each gave an hour to help provide scholarship assistance for high school seniors in Forks and La Push who are graduating in June.

Listening to familiar names announced over the airwaves, I impulsively turned west on Cape Flattery Road and headed to the road’s namesake.

The digital thermometer in my car said it was 48 degrees, but it seemed much warmer.

At the trailhead, cars and motorcycles bore license plates from British Columbia, Delaware, California and Oregon.

The brilliant afternoon sunshine had me nearly skipping down the trail to see the dramatic cliffs being pounded and slowly eroded by the Pacific Ocean.

Hemlock, cedar, spruce and alder trees make up the canopy of this windswept forest.

Robins and thrushes hopped around in the understory of salal.

Recent rains had covered the trail in mud.

Ladies in white sneakers stepped gingerly through boggy spots.

Dogs had mud-spattered bellies.

Most folks had red noses and cheeks.

It seemed everyone was taking pictures, and I passed a group of four whose cameras seemed to get bigger with each passing person until the lens of the last lady’s camera appeared as long as her torso.

While driving out, I pulled over to take a photo of the Pacific and its shoreline when a Clallam County sheriff’s deputy pulled up in front of me.

I took a rapid inventory of possible indiscretions I could be found guilty of when he got out.

I must have looked perplexed because he immediately smiled and said he stopped to do the same thing.

Then he pulled out his camera and turned his attention to the stunning view.

Continuing back to the village, my car followed the road as it edged along the marshy banks of the Waatch River.

Wild swans and mallard ducks floated in the shallow water.

Off in the distance, across the river, a herd of elk grazed.

Turning onto Bayview Avenue, I saw people everywhere.

They were walking down the sidewalk.

Kids were playing at the small beachfront park.

A man was unloading a boat in the marina while two men were walking up the dock in waterproof overalls and T-shirts.

I could hear sea lions barking but couldn’t pinpoint their location as I looked out across Neah Bay.

The jetty of huge boulders from west of the bay joined Waadah Island like a protective arm.

The commercial fishing boats seemed to fill all the slips of the marina.

The sun sparkled on the ripples in the water.

Driving the hairpin turn at Snow Creek and passing mile marker 1 on state Route 112 felt like the end of a chapter in my Sunday.

The sun’s afternoon warmth seemed a stark contrast to my snow-covered, early morning yard.

_________

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina barker81@gmail.com, or phone her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be April 4.

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