Our college grandson came to visit us over the Thanksgiving holiday and though the weather here in the Pacific Northwest was not the best, we were determined to explore and share some of Oregon’s landmarks with him. We were so excited when a friend and co-worker of my husband offered us a nights stay at his beach house on the coast in Rockaway, Oregon. The Oregon coastline is so beautiful and offers many iconic landmarks, one of which we purposed to visit, at Cape Meares, called The Octopus Tree.
The Octopus Tree, is a Sitka spruce with branches that look like giant tentacles reaching up 50 feet from its base. When first observing this tree, your mind is baffled by how it grew into this shape. There are lots of assumptions, like perhaps the constant blowing of the wind as the tree was growing. It is situated only 600 feet from the most beautiful scenic view of the ocean. Perhaps, the wind would come in from the ocean and swirl around the branches of the tree as it was growing, shaping and molding it, declaring to all who would see it that the tree belonged to the ocean and it’s breeze. Sorry, I am a hopeless romantic.
The local historians and the descendants of the Tillamook tribe, explains the odd shape of the tree as not from the wind, but from it being used as a ceremonial site and place where they would hang their canoes and ritual objects. It was a gathering place for the ceremonial rituals of this tribe. (I like my more romantic version:)
Typically, these trees would be forced downward while still flexible, and the branches would remain close to ground in a horizontal position. But when it is allowed to grow naturally, each branch will take a vertical leap skyward, creating the unusual shape we see.
The Octopus Tree is known to be about 250 years old. It was once featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and described as on of the modern Wonders of the World. It has also been dubbed, the Candelabra Tree and the Monstrosity Tree. I don’t like the latter. It is also known as the Council Tree, because of the tribe elders who would gather around it and make their tribal decisions.
Whatever it is called, it definitely stirs wonderment in all who sees it. I personally can relate it to many different analogies. One, much like the shape of the tree, we also come in many different shapes. Sometimes, others cannot understand or even accept the differences in our shapes. We are called by many names, some of which are not very nice. And in many ways, we too can be bent and forced to take on a shape that keeps us “horizontal”, rather than be free to reach skyward and all of the potential that we were intended to have.
Not far from the Octopus Tree, stands another structure, the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It is an inactive lighthouse, built in 1890. It was actually going to be demolished in the early 60’s, but public outcry halted the plan. I, for one, am very happy about that. Lighthouses are also very symbolic to me, especially ones like this one, inactive, still having the power to draw people to its side and admire what it once was.
One of my favorite words is Serendipity. It simply means, coming together and making “happy, chance discoveries”. Oregon offers many opportunities to do just that. I hope to be sharing more of the wonders of the Pacific Northwest. I feel blessed to live here and enjoy all of its wonderment. God Bless all of you. Please leave a comment.
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