The staccato sounds of rubber bullets ripping the air at the marina below unsettle nature’s temple atop the mountain, alive with wind arias through the Douglas-firs, iridescent Anna’s Hummingbirds jetting between fuchsia flower pendants, chipmunks arguing for control of the deepest red thimbleberries, and the thunder of the Pacific. Scolding sea lion voices rise on late summer’s air, annoyed at the tortuous deterrence methods doled out by the chinook salmon fishermen, afraid their catches will be interfered, lost back to the mighty Rogue River, or worse, to the shiny mouth of a waiting sea lion.
The fog quilt that settles over the marina and town on late summer days is comfortable to view from the vantage point of the mountain top. The elevation atop – although only 1,600 feet, provides an expansive, sun-soaked escape from the greyness lying beneath the cloud-weave blanket. If stuck beneath the blanket, a friend can be found in the whipping wind that keeps the fog pushed back, if only from the Pacific’s immediate coastline. Standing in the rich, gold-dusted brown sand, it is enticing to ponder the shapes of Oregon’s coastal rock formations – the sea stacks, arches and tiny islands that make up the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Kissing Rock, the nearest formation to Gold Beach’s southern border, is a common location for conversation between strangers, as eyes attempt to bring into focus the lips carved by the rugged waves into the stone, a mouth posed in a kiss upward for the sky.
Back at the top of the mountain the vineyard teaches the critical principle of southern exposure’s sacred value, and the sunflowers indicate direction, floppy-headed compasses following the sun across the 360-degree panoramic view from the forests on the eastern peaks to the western horizon’s blue expanse. The field crickets begin their music almost precisely as the sun vanishes into magenta shadows, and the resident Great Horned Owl is left to ponder alone how long ago Gold Beach’s gold washed into the sea.