Not ready to live off the grid yet

Writing at the coffee shop. Living in the sticks might not provide such amenities.

“I came for the coffee,” Dave, a Gearhart friend, relayed. This Washington state native shared this information after making me an artisanal Americano at the shop called By The Way. At the time, I’d only been on the North Coast about three weeks and was doing the hard work of pinning down a range of coffee shops to write in.

As I write this, I am sitting in the window of the Seaside Coffee House. It’s midweek and fairly quiet. This coffee house is a neighborhood hub and there is a lot of talking going on. The mood is convivial. Michelle, the owner, knows all the regulars.

Doodling notes for this column, I’m reviewing a conversation I had last week with a friend. After just over three years, Nancy is ditching the area. I met her when she’d been here just a year. She’d moved from Austin to be closer to her son who works at Timberline. We met two years ago at an art event in Cannon Beach. I started talking to her because I admired her jewelry. When we got together last week, she was 24 hours away from her move to the Tygh Valley. Her son had married; a grandchild is on the way. The plan is a year or two of communal living; my friend will take care of the baby while the parents are working during the day. She will be doing the laundry and very likely a lot of the cleaning and the cooking. My friend is hugely looking forward to this great change in her life where she will be a modern pioneer. They will be raising chickens. They will be growing much of their own food.

“The goal is to get off the grid,” Nancy said.

Sipping this excellent café au lait handcrafted for me by Michelle, I pondered my own interest or ability to live off the grid. I’m a person who is still mildly freaked that I have to go all the way to Astoria to get my shoes repaired. For me, the upside of living in this “remote” area is the easy availability of cleaned and cooked Dungeness crab. When my friend suggested her biggest concern about her move is low winter temps and frequent power outages and that her first purchase for their new communal home was a battery-operated generator, I thought, “You are a brave woman.” I wondered, ever so briefly, how she would keep up with her chic haircut and pretty pedicure.

Last night the husband and I went to see “Dunkirk” at the Seaside cinemas. The film takes place in 1940 as Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel. Driving home from the cinema, a substantial amount of our large buttered popcorn still in the bag, I thought how it would be much the same should there be a military battle here. Every fishing vessel would be deployed to lend a hand. It was a comforting thought, far more comforting than embarking on an off-the-grid adventure in the Tygh Valley without a talented barista anywhere near.

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