The Elusive Blue Agate

By J.D. Adams

 

Blue agate is a gemstone of rare elegance; some varieties are more highly prized than diamond. We found our blue agate in Lincoln City on an area of Taft Beach where beachcombers may note an abundant diversity of collectable objects. The exact location is a point of some conjecture; a conundrum shifting with the tides, where Taft Beach ends and the Siletz Bay begins. Nearby, Schooner Creek adds a final dash of fresh water gathered from high in the Coast Range. The bay holds its own gems of history that are revealed when conditions are right, and the ghostly ribs of a lost ship can be seen.

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Siletz Bay

On this day, ponderous clouds move past as slanting shafts of sunshine break through to light the sea. The horizon gleams with the fire of an impending sunset. The scene reminds me of the song “Everybody’s Talkin” that was written by the reclusive and gifted songwriter Fred Neil and made famous by Harry Nilsson:

“I’m going where the sun keeps shining
through the pouring rain.

…skipping over the ocean
like a storm”.

When the wind picks up at the beach as it often does, the kite fliers are out in full force. At Lincoln City on the Oregon coast, known as the kite capital of the world, the sky is filled by kites of every imaginable shape and color. Casual and professional kite fliers congregate at the Rockaway Beach kite festival in May, and then drift southward for the Lincoln City kite events in June and the Brookings-Harbor festivities in July. In August a major kite celebration is held at Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, finishing off with October revelry of kite-propelled fun back at Lincoln City. There is always a major kite congregation at the D River Wayside. The transparent power of the wind is evident in the grinning people and the photogenic dance of their flying machines, swooping like birds of prey, capturing the mind with blithe colors of artistic complexity.

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In the promenade at Taft, my wife and I strolled past the dock, looking out across the Siletz Bay. Seals relaxed on the sandy point in great numbers, cavorting in the water while pelicans soared overhead. Amid the sand castles and driftwood, there are pleasant memories here, warm and fragrant as a beach campfire. We plodded through the white sands, past the fishermen to the water’s edge, wading into groups of loitering seagulls that parted to let us pass. As the bay shore widened toward the open sea, we discovered a beachcomber’s paradise of shells and gems adjacent to the turbulent water.

The current of the bay meets the sea in a curving sweep of beach, spinning into frothing whirlpools, then rising into backlit swells that reveal strange shadows of aquatic life suspended in the water. Each pulse of the surf gives way to a peculiar curling wave that zips along the edge of the bay. Beneath the waves is an underwater world alive with movement, shimmering with liquefied beams of filtered sunshine, and teeming with salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout. In this zone seals are frequently seen playfully riding the current, curiously watching beachcombers from a few feet away.

Here the sand gives way to polished stones, agates, shells, and assorted treasures. The blue agate beckoned to us with the translucent glow of sunset’s slanting rays. It is one of few we have found on the Oregon Coast in shades of sky to midnight blue, and hopefully not the last. A seal watched us intently from the rolling surf, clapping his front feet together as if applauding our latest find.

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Blue agate from Taft Beach

Copyright 2011 by J.D. Adams

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