Ellen Steen

Ellen Steen

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Welcome to the New Year! I think we can all agree that there is no way 2021 can fail to be better than 2020. And good news is already starting to roll in. We have several frontline healthcare workers here in Cape Meares who have already received the first of two shots that will vaccinate them against COVID-19. Hooray! Here’s to the vaccine, hope and the return of seeing our family members and friends. What a good New Year it will be!

A Christmas newsletter came to my mailbox just as last year ended. It was from the family of Bertha Ann Aviles, who passed away January 30, 2020, at age 87. She loved her vacation home here, and family members from as far away as Colorado and Maryland came to Cape Meares in October to celebrate her life. The family newsletter ended with a beautiful sunset shot, showing the cape, Pillar Rock and Pyramid Rock awash in golds and oranges. What a fitting tribute to Bertha Ann, a life well lived, and a place that was dear to her heart!

A beachcombing foray on Bayocean Spit in late December produced a steelheading corky, a big barnacle on a rock scallop, and (drumroll) a dead adult female brown booby (Sula leucogaster). This seabird is a rare visitor from western Mexico; in fact, the birder in the family says he had never seen one before. It is identifiable by its clean white underside, yellow face and bill, and black neck. According to our reference books, the brown booby roosts on buoys, channel markers and in trees. This bird feeds on small fish it captures in shallow dives. The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) verified our identification. Wags in the family had a great time with this find, as you can well imagine.

A helicopter with an extremely bright light flew right over the top of our house on December 26, heading south. Come to find out, a hang glider had had a mishap and was stuck in a tree between Netarts and Oceanside on the east side of Highway131. The pilot was 60-80 feet off the ground in a forested area. First responders broke trail to his location, ascended the tree and helped lower him to the ground. The Coast Guard helicopter we had seen hovered over the area on standby. The stranded pilot sustained no injuries. Great rescue, Netarts Fire & Rescue and assisting parties!

Did you Zoom over the holidays? We usually have a Norwegian Smorgasbord on the weekend between Christmas and the New Year with our large family: five children, spouses, 11 grandchildren and several “significant others.” In 2020, of course, that was not possible. Instead, we had a two-hour Smorgasbord Zoom with 21 participants, complete with everyone providing his/her refreshments, viewing a video collage of pictures from 29 years of family Smorgasbords (a shout-out to daughter Coco and granddaughter Julia for putting that together), and sharing our favorite Smorgasbord memories. We hope however you celebrated with your loved ones, it was meaningful and safe.

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