Friday, December 9, 2011

Out to Sea

Just shy of her 100th birthday, Marion Osterloh made her final journey out to sea. Marian was an amazing woman - a teacher, actress, and writer. She taught for 27 years in the Chico area before retiring to the Mendocino Coast in the 70's. In 2003, she published a book Fate's a Fiddler about her life in Mexico City during and after the Mexican revolution. Marian was active in our local community and involved in many groups including Delta Kappa Gamma (an honorary service organization for women educators). I knew Marian through Delta Kappa Gamma.

Marian lived in a home on the bluffs above Seaside Beach. Marian's wishes were for her ashes to be taken out to sea off the coast of her Seaside home. Marian's good friend and fellow Delta Kappa Gamma member, Kathe, approached us about helping with Marian's last wishes.

Seaside beach is a beautiful county beach north of Fort Bragg. Occasionally we will see it in magazine and television ads. One of the beauties of Seaside Beach is its thunderous surf zone. Even with the calmest ocean conditions, there is always surf at Seaside. It is a surf zone that surfers want no part of and paddlers view with at with the upmost respect. We knew that it would have to be a small day to fulfill Marian's wishes.

On December 8, the day came. We had been having a stretch of uncommonly calm ocean conditions and the predictions were for another day of small seas. We loaded up the tandem sea kayaks and headed out. At Seaside, it was a gorgeous day - sunny, warm with thumping surf.

We got the tandem sea kayak to the water, and Jeff and Kathe headed out.

The local funeral home had packaged Marian's ashes in a biodegradable box specially for the occasion. Jeff helped Kathe secure the package in her lap as they prepared to launch into the surf zone.

Jeff coached Kathe on paddling through the surf zone. They would try to time their paddle-out to avoid waves breaking on top of them by waiting for lulls and hovering to let the waves break in front of them.

Kathe did great. Paddling or tucking as Jeff directed. As they made it through the first impact zone, a large set loomed on the horizon.

The virtues of speed and stability of our 18.5 foot tandem sea kayak were evident as Jeff and Kathe launched over waves. They reported being airbourne at least twice on their journey out to sea. They successfully made it past the surf zone and paddled about 500 yards offshore to put Marian's ashes to rest.

The return journey looked mellower for the most part with the exception of a tongue of a wave giving Kathe a saltwater facial.

Jeff and Kathe even surfed on their way back to shore.

Mission completed - feelings of exhilaration and relief swept over us as we felt the warmth of the sun and perhaps the tickle of Marian's laughter as she completed her on her final journey.

Rest in peace Marian.