Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Day 5: Bending to the elements: wind and sea

One of the challenges of living long is that we’ve seen and done so much that the thrill of finding new things happens less frequently. Yesterday though, it came at Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, named for a rock arch known as the Jughandle. 

This part of the world belongs to the elements. Wind and Sea are major characters in the story: uncontrolled, uncontrollable. My walk along the sea this morning reminded me of the shifting impermanence of the world. An old, wire fence blocked access to the fragile cliffs; however, a metal cable several feet further in revealed the creep of erosion, and an information sign spelled out the message: “In only 100 years, where you stand may have eroded to 100 feet behind you.”

At Jug Handle, my wanderings led me into a darkened grove where trees looked like they had been bulldozed into a pile. It took awhile to realize that these were living trees all in a tangle. It was disorienting confusion. Thankfully, another sign told the story:

Notice that most of the trees before you are sculpted by salt-laden north winds that dry and kill the tips of the branches. The bent and twisted quality of this tiny grove is called krummholz, from the German word meaning “bent wood.” These trees usually grow tall and straight. This grove creates a sheltered environment for many local species of birds, mammals and insects that otherwise could not live on this windswept bluff.

What a powerful reminder that life finds ways to live. It bends and adapts, creates communities for mutual benefit.

More from Jug Handle:


Natural reserves are part of the state park system and similar to parks in that they protect natural landscapes, but the emphasis is more on plants and animals, or specific geological features. They generally have fewer facilities and less development than state parks.


  1. Your perspective on this is interesting -- both physically and philosophically. Your images make we want to jump in my car and visit there today. I'm glad you are having adventures!

  2. Thanks, Wendy ... it's an interesting time.