I just returned from five wonderful days at Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast. Depoe Bay is a very small town on the coast that is known for its robustly rugged rocky rendezvous respites for whales and humans alike. It is, apparently, the spot on the Oregon coast for whale watching. I say apparently because there was absolutely zero, zippo, zilch whale rendezvousing going on during the five days that I was there.

It was overcast and cold for four of those five days which kept us inside much of the time. This was just fine with me as it allowed me to relax by the fire while peering vigilantly outward at the ocean through a pair of crystal clear Zeiss binoculars and a Leica spotting scope both usually dedicated to the equally nerdy and vigilant activity of birding. We stared for hours looking for the slightest indication that a whale may be about. For those of you who are whale watching novices, here are a few of the basic indicators to keep an eye out for: 1. something that looks like a whale, 2. something that looks like part of a whale, 3. several boats filled with people all staring at the same spot in the ocean at something that looks like a whale or part of a whale. Now you, too, have the basics and can be an official whale watcher.

Another redeeming quality of the weather conditions previously described was a rough sea. I don’t know how many of you have been to a rugged, rocky coastline, but there is something quite compelling about sitting by a fire watching rough seas and large waves crashing on the rocks. It draws you in and mesmerizes you in some primordial way that is qualitatively different from the calm and relaxing feel of a gently rolling ocean. The combination of rough weather and rough seas is just the perfect environment for a cup of freshly brewed tea.

We came prepared. We brought 3 pots, 2 of our favorite cups and lots of different teas. When I was wanting to be more mindfully alert in my whale watching efforts, I prepared myself a cup of puerh from a very nice small beeng, courtesy of Phyll Sheng. When we were being more relaxed and social, out came the jasmine pearls. When I was wanting to be more contemplative while just watching the waves crashing on the rocks, I poured myself a cup of exceptional Que She (Bird’s Tongue) to help me turn inward. While just relaxing and reading I often made myself a cup of Morning Dew, a very special white tea from India that has become one of my favorites.

All in all, I can say from personal experience that the combination of good tea and whale watching are a perfect match.

BTW, though Depoe Bay is well known for its whale watching, it is much less known for the dubious distinction of being the smallest harbor in the world – a new bit of trivia I just learned this week that I can now add to the growing congestion of other inconsequential bits of information roaming around in my very clogged head.

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