Once we got to the windy shore at Cannon Beach, I was in heaven. The wide sweep of the sand and the fog veiled cliffs set the mood for silence and contemplation, and we walked along, thinking our own thoughts. Auntie Bridgett found a reasonably comfy wall and sketched while Grandpa Nelson and I headed down the beach.
Haystack Rock, which is the landmark and symbol of the town, stands 235 feet above the sand. It is surrounded by starfish and anemone-filled tide pools and, further up, houses thousands of birds. Seagulls and cormorants are the largest and noisiest, but I paid special attention to the Tufted Puffins. They have a cute, wind-up-toy sort of flap and are easy to spot, but hard to photograph.
These are one of three types of Puffins, and are larger than both the Atlantic and Horned species. The colony on Haystack Rock had 600 birds years ago, but has dwindled to about 100, mostly because the fish they depend on have been either over-fished or are dying out due to pollution and climate change.
I have a soft spot in my teacher’s heart for Puffins because of a story called “Nights of the Pufflings”, by Bruce McMillan. It was included in a third grade anthology and told the true story of how children in Iceland would stay awake all night in the spring to collect baby Atlantic Puffins, called “Pufflings”, who got lost on their flight from the cliffs to the sea.
The children would collect the birds at night, saving them from traffic and dogs, and release them the next day at the beach. The children’s activism and care of their small charges warmed all the fuzzy feels of my heart.
Cannon Beach has this sort of love for their own Puffins, erecting statues around town and selling sweatshirts to raise money for their protection.
Once we had soaked up all the sea and wind that we could, it was time to get warm and fed. Tomorrow I will tell you about the pretty town of Cannon Beach.