Gateway to the Sixties

by Maria Theresa Maggi on January 12, 2016

Embracing the Rainbow smaller copy

The last time I can remember seeing the ocean, my son was just 8 years old. We had only been in Moscow a couple of years. My friend Joe knew I missed the ocean, so he suggested a weekend camping trip out to the coast. Brave man that he was, he was also willing to let Michael bring a friend along for the adventure. So we all, including Joe’s black lab Liz, piled into his volkswagen vanagon and headed for the Washington Coast. Our destination was Fort Canby, where there was a beach to camp on, and a lighthouse to explore. I don’t remember much about the night we spent there, but I do remember climbing the spiral stairs to the top of the lighthouse, and the path down through the beautiful northwest rainforest that led to it. I also remember that it started to pour relentlessly, so Joe and I decided it was best not to try and tough it out with two 8 year olds, so we packed up and headed for Seattle, where we took the boys to the Space Needle and went swimming in the hotel pool. There was also a rather pleasant stop for a hot lunch along the way at a place where the kids could get what they wanted. On the way home we stopped in Roslyn, Washington, where the show Northern Exposure was being filmed. For the course of the entire trip, the boys bantered about all of this, and everything else that came to their minds, by declaring to each other that whatever one said was “just an opinion” (and therefore couldn’t possibly be right). There may also have been a jelly doughnut from the hotel found flattened into a gameboy case. Though it was “only our opinion,” Joe and I were glad to have gone, but also glad to be done listening to the “just an opinion” soundtrack over and over.

I didn’t know it at the time, but in a couple of years I would become too ill to drive, lift a frying pan, or hold the phone to my ear, let alone work. Traveling to the coast would become a thing of the past.


Mike is now 30, and when he realized that what I’d most like for my birthday was to see the ocean again, he and Kelly came right on board with granting my wish–even though it is January, and not all that likely to be great beach weather. Our original plan was for Kelly to take the day off from school and come with us on my actual birthday. Then it turned out she was needed at school that Friday, so we decided to go the next day on the weekend. But she came down with a doozie of a cold that just didn’t want to let go, and at the last minute had to stay home to nurse herself back to health. That was the only disappointment in an otherwise absolutely magical 24 hours of birthday bliss.

The previous evening they came to get me to take me out to a vegan dinner in St. John’s at Proper Eats. Kelly, who is a genius in felt sculpture, brought me my very own custom made soft serve waffle cone.

Waffle Cone Sculpture by Kelly Rundle

At the restaurant, I had coleslaw wrapped in a collard leaf for an appetizer, some carrot-celery-lemon-ginger juice and what’s called a “Proper Plate” for the main course. I chose black beans and tempeh over brown rice and veggie mix, with some gomasio and avocado slices on the top. It was fabulous. For dessert, I was brought a vegan coconut “baby cake” on the house, so of course I ate a little of that too. There are some times it’s just plain part of the celebration to splurge a little bit.

The next morning, armed with snacks, rain pants, two coats, and four pairs of shoes, (in anticipation of any kind of weather, since I didn’t want to be prevented by a mere pair of shoes from setting food on the sand), we set off for the coast. At the suggestion of one of my wonderful readers, we found a place called Gerhardt Beach. The sun was coming out as we arrived, and we nearly had the whole shoreline to ourselves the entire time we were there. Here are a few of the wonderful photos Mike took of my historic return to the sea.

First Look at Ocean  smaller copyWalking South on Gerhardt Beach OR smaller copyMe and Romeo a new slant smaller copyFinding a Black Rock smaller copy

After that, we went further south and got a little silly–okay, a LOT silly– in Seaside, when we found a free house of mirrors right next to where we parked the car. If this photo doesn’t embody turning 60 in the style of the 60’s I don’t know what would:

Funhouse 6 Me Me and Me

And finally, when we were getting ready to leave, we came upon a swing set at the Seaside Beach, so of course I had to indulge.

Seaside Swing

For the last couple of months, the prospect of turning 60 has seemed ridiculous to me, funny even. How could be turning 60? The thought of it was just preposterous–I simply felt I wasn’t grown up enough yet to be that age. Or maybe I was just getting sillier the older I get. I couldn’t tell which one it was. Then one night just after Christmas, a dear long-time friend of mine and I were having a chat and she, a few years younger than I am, wistfully referred to being “almost sixty.” I burst out laughing. “You are not almost 60!!” I laughed. “Well, I will be, in a few years,” she said sheepishly. And I said, through my laughter, “and will be 60 in a few days. That’s almost turning 60!!” We ended up laughing so hard our sides hurt. But laughter aside, there was still a specter of time passing by, and what it means to grow officially “older.” In this regard I feel both silly and serious, like the fool in King Lear, one of my favorite characters in  Shakespeare.

When I woke up the morning of my 60th birthday, the sky was a distinctly uniform dry cement gray. I sighed, but determined as I plodded into the bathroom I would not let it squelch the irrational sense of joyful anticipation that usually seems to arise in me just because the day I was born has arrived again. When I returned to roll out my yoga mat and stand on it facing the east windows in my bedroom, I was treated to a surprise. The gray had given way to an opening where a pastel colored sunrise in muted rainbow sherbet colors greeted me. I smiled, and thought to myself, “Well, maybe the 60s are not going to be uniform gray after all. I’ll just have to wait and see.”

Later that morning I enjoyed a decaf hemp milk latte with my new neighborhood friends. By that time the sun was shining full on through the cafe window where we sat. I was sporting my zodiac socks the friend I laughed with on the phone gave me a long time ago for one of my birthdays, and on the way home Romeo delighted one of my neighbors by treating himself to a “snow cone” from the last of the Portland snow left over from the freakish storm we had earlier in the week, to top off all the free dog biscuits he got at Elevated Coffee.

When Mike, Romeo and I were at Gerhardt Beach, I was reminded all over again that this passage could be colorful and bright in the most dramatic of ways, far beyond the capacity of my power to will it so. First we walked south to the estuary, and there I rested on a large driftwood log before we turned back.

Me and Romeo driftwood smaller copy

As we began our way back north, all of a sudden we were treated to the sight of the fantastic rainbow you see in the photo at the top of this post. It was an unmistakable reminder to me how full of unexpected wonder life really is. There is no age limit on open-ended awe. And certainly none on silliness, gratitude, peace,or transcendence. There will be my share of sadnesses, too, always, but these, these are the talismans I hold with me as I travel the rest of my days.

Maria (moonwatcher)


Almost Double Rainbow Gerhardt Beach copy


Leave a Comment

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veronique Blommaart January 13, 2016 at 12:09 am

Happy Birthday Maria!! What a lovely trip you had.
Thank you for reminding me that there is always a rainbow or a ray of sunshine when least expected. I needed to be reminded.
You are an inspiration!



2 Maria Theresa Maggi January 13, 2016 at 9:10 am

Thank you Veronique! And it’s my pleasure to remindi you of that unexpected burst of light. xo


3 Genny January 13, 2016 at 4:39 am

I am approaching a milestone too – it’s 50 for me in a few weeks. This is so inspiring to read. I want to find a positive place to move forward and this helps. Thanks for sharing your life stories.


4 Maria Theresa Maggi January 13, 2016 at 9:11 am

Thank you, Genny, and all best to you as you approach and enter “the nifty fifties”–an older friend called them that as I was approaching 50, and it turned out to be quite true. Plus it rhymes! 🙂


5 Pam January 13, 2016 at 7:37 am

Thank you for sharing your special day with us. It makes me so happy to hear about your return to the ocean. I love your level of preparedness, down to the multiple pairs of shoes, just in case!

As a 50 year old visiting Disneyland again, it is fun to indulge in that silly side and feel like a kid again.

I wish for you many more awe filled trips to the beach. ❤️


6 Maria Theresa Maggi January 13, 2016 at 9:12 am

Oh, my pleasure, Pam. Thank YOU for the tip about Gerhardt–it is now one of my favorite places on earth!! (And yes, I have a very active inner Girl Scout–lol) Hope you enjoy Disneyland to the hilt! 🙂 <3


7 Carole Nelms January 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

Such a lovely post you shared with us! I am two years away from celebrating my 70th birthday and I can hardly believe it! Time does go fast! You had such a memorable and happy birthday! Your special vegan dinner out was grande too! I wish you many many more lovely birthdays in your life! Blessings to you Maria!


8 Maria Theresa Maggi January 13, 2016 at 9:14 am

Thank you for this lovely comment, Carole! Wishing you many more lovely birthdays, too. The time does fly, so we might as well enjoy each and every minute of it that we can. Blessings back to you.


9 Marge Evans January 13, 2016 at 8:56 am

what fun! happy belated birthday! I have always enjoyed your posts even more,now that you live in PDX. So many places we share. I hope you can be downtown on July 16th-17th when 10,000 of us ride our bicycles from Seattle to Portland. It is really something to see.


10 Gena January 14, 2016 at 9:41 am

Dear Maria,

I loved hearing that you had seen the ocean in your comment on my blog, and I was so hoping that you would treat us all to a recap of the journey here on your blog. And so you have, beautifully and with all of your characteristic wonder and humility and exuberance. I loved this post, and I’m so happy that the heavens offered you that gorgeous rainbow for your birthday celebration — you deserve that kind of beautiful moment/experience for your special day!

I also love your thoughts on birthdays and time passing. I never “feel” as mature or as wise or as ready to be my age as I think I should feel when birthdays roll around: truly, I always feel that life is a giant learning experience and that I’m just trying to figure things out. But in some ways, I’d rather feel an ongoing sense of wonder and a capacity for surprise than any amount of “expertise” about life, I guess.

Happy birthday to you, my friend, and may this year bring you much continued “silliness, gratitude, peace, and transcendence.”



11 Maria Theresa Maggi January 14, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Thank you so much, Gena, for this lovely comment and all its appreciation. Here’s to the one giant learning experience of life, and just trying to figure things out. And “much continued silliness, gratitude, peace, and transcendence” for both of us!! xoxo


12 Veronica January 14, 2016 at 10:37 am

I’m glad you had such a wonderful birthday! The photos look wonderful, and thank you for sharing your day. The ocean is magical, and I’m glad you got to visit it again. Your expressions say it all! 🙂 Let’s hope you get to visit the ocean more often now!
As I mentioned on FB, I’m blessed to have met you, and hope to someday soon celebrate birthdays and all the other successes in person. xo


13 Maria Theresa Maggi January 14, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Thank you, Veronica! I do hope I get to visit the ocean more often, too. And meeting you in person? Now that would truly be a wonderful gift indeed. 🙂 xo


14 Alexandra Thompson January 16, 2016 at 4:13 am

Hi Maria! What a beautiful message. There are often rainbows out my window, last year there were two at the same time, and it’s always a little bit of a magic. Just so you know, I am 61, and it feels just fine this side of the fence… What I love the most is that we drop a lot of the stuff we carried up until this point and move on without those big expectations that meant nothing in the first place. It’s a very special place to be. One of the first things I realized about getting older was that all those “old” people who seemed so oblivious to their surroundings simply didn’t care all that much what people thought and often stopped to “smell the roses” wherever they happened to be. And now I do as well. Greetings from Vienna (Austria) and thank you for sharing your life with us!


15 Lee at Veggie Quest January 16, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Maria, what an amazing way to kick off a new decade! There’s just something about the ocean–I’m so glad you finally got back to it. And that rainbow! I’m not much of one for omens, but that seems like a very good sign. 🙂

Anyhow, happy belated birthday, and thanks for sharing your gorgeous pictures! Rainbow aside, I especially love the one of you and Romeo examining the ebbing wave together. So fun!


16 Maria Theresa Maggi January 16, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Thank you Lee! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and all the photos–yes, there’s just something about the ocean. That one of me and Romeo finding a black rock is one of my favorites too. 🙂


17 Terri January 25, 2016 at 8:09 am

Happy Birthday Maria! What a beautiful Birthday experience you had! Thank you for all of your life sharing moments!


18 Maria Theresa Maggi January 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

Thanks Terri! My pleasure. 🙂


19 cynthia February 1, 2016 at 6:11 am

a very fine morning to you moonwatcher:

a lovely article filled with hope for everyone. and i thank you.

so, you have been a VEGAN for eight years now. any comments you are willing to share?

this past december i entered my fiftieth year of veganopia…unlike your self, i really cannot say there have been many/any health changes because i began eating/living a vegan lifestyle so young; i can say my ‘philosophy’ has always been to stay as far away from doctors as possible – i use natural remedies, like food, which is the true medicine. cannot say i have had any surgeries nor do i stock any aspirin, pain killers, etc. in my home. so, in conclusion one could claim an attitude of health by eating a plant-based diet.

i could go on and on and on…however, i just wanted to pop in and wish you continuing success climbing the ladder to health, an ongoing endeavor for us all.

is romeo a saluki?

again, thank you for the stories and the adventures.


20 Maria Theresa Maggi February 1, 2016 at 9:27 am

Hi Cynthia Morningflower–

Congratulations on 50 years of good health and living eating vegan! That is fantastic! My philosophy is very similar to yours–I do very much believe food is medicine, and learned that along the way, I guess, the hard way, not having anyone show me that per se when I was young. You are very lucky. And yes, sadly, it seems the further away from most doctors I stay, the better! 🙂 Eating vegan has changed me slowly and profoundly, from the inside out. I like that very much. Romeo is not a Saluki, he is a Silken Windhound, and a rather “famous” one in those circles. I am very lucky he came to be with me. Thank you so much for your warm and kind words!


21 cynthia February 1, 2016 at 6:12 am

forgot to mention my name: morningflower…

in good health, always,



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