I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, June 9, 2024

My latest adventure

Low tide at harbor (Steve's picture)

Yesterday my friend Steve and I walked from the coffee shop to Squalicum Harbor, one of my favorite walks. I felt pretty good, physically, when we started out, but I lost some of my energy as we made our six miles around the harbor. I think I am not completely recovered from my long and rather strenuous hike on Thursday. Although there was a time when such a hike would not have bothered me, I am feeling my age and lack of ability to bounce back quickly.

I apologized to Steve for whining, when we were on our way back from the harbor and almost to the Farmers' Market. I felt like I might not be able to make it without stopping to rest. But I did eventually, and I enjoyed a scone and a Shave Ice treat at the end. The cold snow-cone-like frosty treat revived me. Although it wasn't all that hot for some people, the temperature in the mid-70s and full sun sure felt hot to me. Each one of these excursions will help to acclimatize me to warmer temperatures. I must say, though, I much prefer cool temps and partly cloudy skies.

Looking at the rest of the country, however, we are not under that awful heat dome that many are experiencing at the moment. I saw that the temperatures in the Southwest have reached into the triple digits, while we are having what would feel like a cold snap for many. I like this much better! My friends in California are doing their best to stay comfortable during this period. And I do hope that the electricity grid in Texas will manage to stay in operation, since many family and friends rely on it. And it's not even summer yet. It does look like we'll be having a warmer than normal summer season.

It's now been more than a week since I had my first eye treatment, and tomorrow, Monday the 10th, I'll have my second one. It took a few days for the redness and swelling to settle down, but I didn't have any other untoward reaction, so I suppose it will be a repeat of last week's adventure this time. 

And that is the main thing on my mind these days: what is happening with my eyes and whether or not I will be able to slow the progression of the deterioration of my vision. Although I have been dealing with AMD (age-related macular degeneration) for years, it's only recently become a real problem and making it hard to read for any length of time, even with my device's low vision settings, but it's far better than no sight at all. And yes, it is an adventure that I have been dealing with, and how it goes from here is not clear at all. If this treatment slows things down, I will be happy, but it might not, and I will be looking at being legally blind within the next year or two at the outside.

I have already begun to make plans for how I might proceed, and several of my friends have offered suggestions that I will definitely follow. You would think that someone who has jumped out of airplanes for decades wouldn't be afraid of a little thing like this, but yeah, I am. Under the best circumstances, I'll find ways to work around the loss of vision and still carry out everything that I enjoy today. But I will probably have to give up reading and following the blogs you write. That's in the future, though, and for now I can still use my "good" eye to see your creations and pictures, etc. There are so many wonderful people in my universe, and I feel very fortunate to have this moment of life-affirming beauty.
Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something. —Ralph Marston

 Although it's hard to see in that picture, the tide in the harbor was lower than I had ever seen it. We've been having what is called a "spring tide," which occurs during full moons and new moons. (It has nothing to do with it being springtime, they occur year round.) During spring tides, the high and low tides are more extreme. This has been going on all the time, but I only recently (like yesterday) noticed how far out the beach continued in the harbor. People who live near the coast usually already know about tides. 

I remember years ago, when I lived in California and decided to hitchhike down the coast to get to Big Sur. Since I was living at that time in Sacramento, it was not a long ways to go, a few hours ride in a car, and I had no fear of hitchhiking back in those days. I was a young and not-too-bright hippie who never thought anything could happen to her. One driver gave me a ride to the coast not too far from Big Sur, and I decided to camp out on the beach.

I had a small backpack with a sleeping bag and some clothes, and I found a lovely place in the warm sand to set up my makeshift camp. I snuggled into the bag and fell asleep, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by the tide coming in, and suddenly I was surrounded by water! I didn't know anything about tides, but I found a rock that jutted out above the beach and scrambled onto it. There was nothing to do, nowhere to go, just stay there until the tide receded. That was my first adventure with tides, and I soon learned that they rise and fall twice a day. Bellingham is located at 48.75 North Latitude, near the Canadian border.  It also means that our tides are higher and lower at this distance from the equator.

When I was sitting on that rock, surrounded by water, I watched a seal playing nearby. He was so at home there and seemed to realize that I was not a threat to him, but instead found me to be a captive audience. That seal lives on in my memory of that fateful day. Once the tide receded, I packed up, walked to the highway and hitched the rest of the way to Big Sur. It was something I never forgot, and now that I am living in a coastal city, I am much more aware of the vast ocean at my doorstep and its characteristics.  

We are not far from the summer solstice, the day when the nights are shortest and the days the longest. That is when I learned about how different it is so far north, with Bellingham being so far north that we don't get completely dark at the summer solstice. If you go even farther north, to the Land of the Midnight Sun, it never gets dark at all at this time of the year. I am grateful for my sleep mask that makes it dark for me whenever I'm ready for bed, no matter what time of year it is.

I managed to get more than eight hours of sleep last night, and this morning I feel much more like myself, with a spring in my step and no longer feeling so tired from Thursday's hike. I guess even though it didn't seem as though I am recovering as quickly as I'd like, I have to remind myself that I am doing quite well for an octogenarian. For that I am eternally grateful, and for however long I can continue to be active, I will also enjoy these days in the sun. But I will not mind one bit as the days begin to grow shorter and the sun will set at a reasonable time. 

Well, I managed to write a post without bemoaning my eye situation for too long. It is truly wonderful to be alive in this day and age, and my gratitude for my life, with its ups and downs and challenges to be met, is boundless. I will also not forget my dear virtual friends, and I will enjoy every moment that we have together here in the Blogosphere, knowing that they will change with the days, weeks, perhaps years that we have ahead. I do hope that the coming week will bring you lots of joy and delight, and that you will be surrounded by love. That's what I wish for myself as well. Until we meet here next week, I wish you all good things.


Anvilcloud said...

Once upon a time, Sue and I put up our lawn chairs by the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. I wanted to witness the tide coming in. Although there was nothing to see moment-by-moment, at the end of two or three hours there was a huge difference. The fishing boat that had been on dry land had been lifted up to pier height. I'm glad we did that although the locals must have shook their heads at those crazy landlubbers.

Marie Smith said...

I smile when you write of your slow recovery from the hike on Thursday. There is nothing slow about your recovery, Jan. The fact you did that hike is a wonder. Not many seniors are capable of such a hike. I know you bring that same spirit and capability to the challenge with your eyesight. That young woman on the beach meeting the tide as she did all those years ago has come a long way in a short time. She has more to experience before this journey is over and she is ready, willing and able! You go, girl!

Rian said...

Tides are fascinating, DJan... at least to me. The only memory I've ever had concerning tides was when we were in Cornwall. Saint Michael's Mount is available to walk to when the tide is out. But you have to make sure you cross back before the tide comes in. Your experience on the beach when the tide came in is one to remember.
And I'm wondering that if and when you can no longer read posts - if the posts could be read aloud to you like text messages are now if needed? Something worth checking. Your friends don't want to lose contact with you if its at all possible. Meanwhile we'll just continue to send you prayers and good vibes that your eye treatment will work wonders.

gigi-hawaii said...

I do hope your new treatment delays your total blindness. Have you started to learn Braille, yet?

Marty said...

In these days when, out of disgust at it all, I stop mid-paragraph from reading the news, your optimism continues to cause me to look around at my own small world. Even though it's been a cool, drizzly morning, a hummingbird is at the feeder right outside my window reminding me of this afternoon's sunny forecast.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Best of Luck with the injection tomorrow. At least there is something you can do to slow down the progression! It will be okay! Positive thoughts!!

Rita said...

Wanting the best results for you. Yes--positive thoughts!

Linda Reeder said...

We are here on Whidbey Island for a few days, and with the current low, low tides, we are reminded of why this bay is called Useless Bay. The tide goes our here up to 3000 feet, exposing fast tide flats. Needless to say, it is a useless harbor for ship traffic.
We have been coming here for many years. When Jake was a toddler, we walked on the tide flats and I mentioned that the tide was starting to come in. He was almost panicky, thinking we needed to run to escape the incoming tide. He was always a worrier. Fortunately it comes in a bit more gradually than that. Right now the lagoon is empty, but it was full this morning and it will be full this evening. Tides are interesting.
The tides of our lives change too. Not that long ago I would have been walking barefoot out on the tide flats. Now I can't. As I approach my 80th birthday in July, my life is being altered also. We will work to appreciate what we have.
Be well, dear friend.

Elephant's Child said...

Huge hugs and much love. I am always seriously impressed at how well you recover from hikes that would probably have me bed bound. And love watching the tides. It has been too long since I have seen or smelt the sea.
Good luck with your next injection. With all the good wishes flowing your way it can't help but be a success.

Anonymous said...

So very sorry to hear about your vision loss. Your friends may have already mentioned AI assistive devices like Envision Glasses, the eye wear can read text out loud to you. I don't have personal experience with it but it looks amazing. Hopefully, Bellingham has good resources for folks with low vision.

Gigi said...

I wouldn't be so quick to count on losing the blogs you keep and read. I'm positive there must be an app or software out there that could assist in the event you do become legally blind.

Also, I'm not counting you or this therapy out just yet.

Sending love. xo

John's Island said...

Jan, the tides make a big difference in what I see on my walks along the Seattle waterfront. I keep a link to Seattle’s tides on my desktop for easy access. Just in case you’d like one for Bellingham, here it is


I appreciate the positivity in your post today and in many of the comments you’ve already received. I especially like Linda Reeder’s thought, “The tides of our lives change too.” So true! Hope your vision appointment tomorrow goes well. John

Red said...

Somebody like you will find some way to cope with the eye situation and get the most out of life. Friend Walter walks by every day to pick up groceries. He also takes the bus where ever he wants. You will find a way.

tz_garden said...

I love the story of watching the seal and how the memory is still alive. How brave you were!

Barwitzki said...

When I go on a longer tour, I always pack something small to eat - a bar or homemade healthy ones! Cookies. That helps me. And then I think there's no shame in taking a little break if there's a bank nearby. There is usually so much to watch or hear... here with us the birds... it's wonderful.
Lots of love to you.
And - All good wishes for you.

Rosie said...

I have a similar problem with my eye,called Macular Oedema, and need to have injections into the eye. I have had them now for 12 months, sometimes every 6 weeks and other times 3 monthly depending on the test results and the screening before my appointment. I hope you get good results and can continue to enjoy reading etc. My specialist has said that blood pressure is important to be low and in my case I have got it down to 110/80 and hopefully my oedema will not recur.

Terra said...

I stopped and prayed for healing for your eye before I wrote this comment. A friend became suddenly legally blind a year ago and friends rallied round, they bring him to church and to his men's Bible study once a week and a friend takes his dog on a run on the beach. Thank goodness for friends. I hope your eye treatments are totally successful. What a picture you describe of you scrambling on to the nearby rock surrounded by the tide.