The Place Where You Live: Gold Beach, Oregon
Flecks of gold shine in the sand near Gold Beach (Photo: Andrea Lynn)
Living on Earth gives voice to Orion magazine’s longtime feature where readers celebrate their favorite places. In this week’s edition, writer Andrea Lynn paints a lyrical image of Gold Beach, Oregon, once a destination for prospectors, and now for tourists and fishermen.
CURWOOD: We head to Oregon now for another installment in the occasional Living on Earth/Orion Magazine series “The Place Where You Live.” Orion invites readers to submit essays to the magazine’s website to put places they love on the map, and we give them a voice.
[MUSIC: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes “Home” from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes, Rough Trade Records]
CURWOOD: The view of the Pacific coast from a mountaintop inspired today’s essay.
LYNN: Gold Beach is a collision of old and new, of fast-paced tourist community right at the southern coast of Oregon. And the Pacific Coastal Highway runs though the town, so especially in summer it’s extremely busy with a lot of visitors enjoying the rugged, natural surroundings.
[MUSIC: Guitar Dreamers and Acoustic Guitars, “Dirty Paws" on Acoustic Nature Walk, composed by Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir/ Ragnar Þórhallsson/Of Monsters and Men, CC Entertainment]
LYNN: I’m Andrea Lynn. This is my essay on Gold Beach, Oregon.
The staccato sounds of rubber bullets ripping the air at the marina below unsettle nature atop the mountain, alive with wind arias through the Douglas-firs, iridescent Anna’s Hummingbirds jetting between the fuchsia flower pendants, chipmunks arguing for control of the deepest red thimbleberries, and the thunder of the Pacific. Scolding sea lion voices rise on summer’s air, annoyed at the tortuous deterrence methods doled out by the
chinook salmon fishermen, afraid their catches will be disrupted, lost back to the mighty Rogue River, or worse, to the shiny mouth of a waiting sea lion.
[SOUNDS OF BIRDS AND SEA LIONS]
LYNN: The fog quilt that settles over the marina and town on late summer days is comfortable to view from the vantage point of the mountain top. The elevation atop, although only 1,600 feet, provides an expansive, sun-soaked escape from the greyness lying beneath the cloud-weave blanket. If stuck beneath the blanket, a friend can be found in the whipping wind that keeps the fog pushed back, if only from the Pacific’s immediate coastline.
Standing in the rich, gold-dusted brown sand, it is enticing to ponder the shapes of Oregon’s coastal rock formations – the sea stacks, arches and tiny islands that make up the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Kissing Rock, the nearest formation to Gold Beach’s southern border, is a common location for conversations between strangers, as eyes attempt to bring into focus the lips carved by the rugged waves into the stone, a mouth posed in a kiss upward for the sky.
Back at the top of the mountain the vineyard teaches the critical principle of southern exposure’s sacred value, and the sunflowers indicate direction, floppy-headed compasses following the sun across the 360-degree panoramic view from the forests on the eastern peaks to the western horizon’s blue expanse.
The field crickets begin their music almost precisely as the sun vanishes into magenta shadows, and the resident Great Horned Owl is left
to ponder alone, how long ago Gold Beach’s gold washed into the sea.
[CRICKETS BUZZING, OWL HOOTING]
[MUSIC: Guitar Dreamers and Acoustic Guitars, “Dirty Paws” on Acoustic Nature Walk, composed by Of Monsters and Men, CC Entertainment
LYNN: The old timers in Gold Beach will tell you about the gold that is indeed in the sand. And if you do look closely at the sand, especially in the sunshine, you see gold flecks. And the opportunity to gather up such tiny flakes is really cost-prohibitive, but you will often see people panning for gold in the streams
that run into the ocean. So, gold is very much still a part of the heritage that makes Gold Beach what it is.
[MUSIC: Guitar Dreamers and Acoustic Guitars, “Dirty Paws” on Acoustic Nature Walk, composed by Of Monsters and Men, CC Entertanment]
LYNN: It’s almost surreal sitting at the top of the mountain looking down over the Pacific and taking just time to pause and realize, in that place, when you’re there, time does disappear.
[MUSIC: Guitar Dreamers and Acoustic Guitars, “Dirty Paws” on Acoustic Nature Walk, composed by Of Monsters and Men, CC Entertainment]
CURWOOD: That’s Andrea Lynn and her essay about Gold Beach, Oregon. You can find pictures and details about Orion Magazine and how to submit your essay, if you want to tell us about the place where you live, at our website, loe dot org.
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