Up the Beach — Bed-times, birds, berries, clams and quilts


A pox on whoever thought up the absurd idea of Daylight Saving Time. I am sure it is was a self-righteous person whose clock is set for an early morning rising to a 6 p.m. time-to-go-to-bed schedule.

Who wants to get up in the dark? What a waste of time. Even the birds aren’t up in the dark. But, at least once the sun comes up, all the tiny birds have begun to make their appearances on grass stems, fluttering through the bushes, darting around for nest building materials. So, even though it is the dreadful thought of getting-up-in-the-dark-time, at least spring is hopefully really somewhere around the corner, even though the calendar says it’s already arrived.

Another sign of spring on the upper beach is the purring of equipment getting in this year’s crop of trees. Out in the Grass Creek area, some fine wood is building up on the hot decks, awaiting its trip to the mill.

In late evening the big lights are on to do some hoot owl work. What must the old loggers think of mechanized hoot owl logging anyway — especially when it‘s not fire season?

Berries budding

Before the brush hides the clear cuts from several years ago, this is the time of year to check out those locations to see if little wild blackberries are ready to show their stuff in the logged-off land. Certainly in the older clear cuts, the firs haven’t grown up too high to spy some blue or red huckleberry bushes about to shoot up new growth containing the promise of some lush July berries.

Oddly enough, the alder trees aren’t showing much of a springtime blush yet. But, in the older clearcuts, the red currant bushes are proudly flaunting their rich fuchsia pink blossoms. Leaders on the Douglas fir are so long they are sagging over the 2012 growth. If that doesn’t convince one of the huge amount of rain all winter, I guess nothing will.

Muddy waters

The Humptulips is thick with muddy runoff, much to the disgust of the fishers. Out in the harbor, the brown water flows towards the thickness of the warmer brown waters coming down the Chehalis River. Yet, in between the two channels flows the amazing cold, greenish-blue water where the Peregrines dive at 200 mph for prey. But at the farm houses along the Hump, the Mackenzies are slouched on their trailers in utter disgust with the weather.

Out on the Ocean Beach Road, the crows are busy harassing the Red tailed hawks. Slash piles along the Kirkpatrick road look like sooks of evergreen hay. Some folks who grew up on stump ranches love the sight of those slash piles. It brings back memories of sitting in the dark with Dad waiting for a potato to get roasted in the glowing coals to eat with butter and salt smuggled from Mom’s kitchen. It was a time for talking about poems, prayers and promises while Dad smoked his pipe and the moon loomed up on the horizon.

Julie Olsen up at Lake Quinault still has time to ride her horse and see the eagles floating almost in flocks in the sky above her. But Marge Johnson, old beacher that she is, has hunkered down in this weather and is working on beating the number of quilts she has made in the last six months — 10 at last count —for gifts before summer comes.

Clams coming

Dan Ayres, WDFW’s coastal shellfish lead biologist announced that the late March recreational razor clam opener will proceed. This is the first opener in the 2012-13 recreational razor clam season on morning low tides. Below are the opening dates and the time of the morning low at Copalis and Mocrocks beaches:

March 29, Friday, 8:40 a.m. -0.6 ft.

March 30, Saturday, 9:26 a.m. -0.7 ft.

Ayers also reported on the most recent marine toxin levels, as announced by the Washington Department of Health (WDOH) on March 20, 2013. This is the final round of razor clam samples required by WDOH before any recreational razor clam opener.

Before a beach can be opened for the harvest of razor clams, WDOH protocol requires that all razor clam samples collected from that beach must test under the action level (20 ppm for domoic acid, 80 µg/100g for PSP and 16 µg/100g for DSP) on all required sample collections. The samples tested are all from the meat of the clam. Sampling occured on March 17.

These samples are all below the action level for domoic acid, PSP and DSP. As a result, WDOH has allowed WDFW to proceed with this razor clam harvest opener.

For those who remember the devastating clam beach closures in the 1980s, this is good news. Ayres has provided the following sites to learn more about the beacher’s favorite bi-valve. More details on domoic acid and ASP can be found at: http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish/BiotoxinsIllness...

More details on PSP can be found at: http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish/BiotoxinsIllness...

More details on okadic acid and DSP can be found at: http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish/BiotoxinsIllness...

For more information on razor clams, including how seasons are set, population sampling techniques and how to dig, clean and cook razor clams please see the following link: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/razorclm/razorclm.htm

Beachcombers’ bonanzas

Some folks are finding glass balls along the North Beach. The area’s favored oceanographer, Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, is predicting that 2013 could be the greatest glass ball year since the 1950s. He explained the glass balls hold clues to the arrival of the main mass of tsunami debris.

Since 1911, the Japanese have hand-blown 110 million glass balls that fishermen suspended beneath their nets. By the 1960s, the Japanese fishermen had replaced the glass balls with plastic floats. They discarded the glass balls as garbage (gomi in Japanese) in the weeds around their marinas.

The March 2011 tsunami sent millions of the gomi balls adrift in the debris. Since glass balls float low in the water, they will lag behind other flotsam that sticks above the water. The winds sail high profile flotsam across the Pacific at much faster speeds (typically 20-25 miles per day) according to Ebbesmeyer, who explains that the glass balls typically travel 7-10 miles per day.

The lumber coming in has drawn crowds of ‘pickers’. Last week in Ocean Shores, a pickup coming off the beach was loaded to the gunnels, with more debris lumber lashed to its top. Shades of the 1960s when a load of lumber on the beach caused a mass exodus of Ocean City and Copalis folks from their homes to capture the much south-after treasure.

The tsunami debris will undoubtedly be the hot topic of conversation April 6-7 at the Annual Grayland Driftwood Show in the historic Grayland Community Hall. Find more information at cranberrycoastcoc.com.

All kvetching about Daylight Saving Time aside, spring does bring some joy to the heart. The promise of future berry patches, employment opportunities in the woods industry, clam digging and finding stuff on the beach. Such a deal.

Gene Woodwick is available at genewoodwick@coastaccess.com or (360) 289-2805.