We three were walking on the narrow wooded trail that wound from the beach through huckleberry bushes back to our campsite in the forest.
The beach had stretched as far north and as far south as we could see. Lynne and I and our faithful canine companion had been mostly alone, only occasionally passing walkers heading in the opposite direction.
They appeared first as dots on the beach, almost obscured by the mist. One figure alone at the water's edge parted into two. A couple with two dogs approached us, the two dogs turned into three, then offered this friendly interchange. "Yes, dogs were OK off leash, we like them to socialize," the young woman had said before disappearing forever behind us, leaving us alone as we headed into the sweep of the coast, its arc ending with hills rising up from the sea, the edges of the dark land masses fading as they receded into the grey sky.
Once we reached the limit of our walk, we found a log and sat down to snack and offer water to our dog, Winnie. She turned our attention from sand patterns, frothy waves, the constant roar, to a more local focus--her delight in the sand, her excursions into pools of water, her frolic with the stick I threw for her, the puppy within expressed as she shook the stick and tried to break it apart.
Dog companions were popular at that place, that September afternoon, when presumably families with school age children were far from the coastal scenery, buttoned into their responsible lives, leaving campgrounds and ocean vistas to the childless set--whether grey haired or not, many of whom made up for the absence of children by inviting a dog into their lives.
This elderly couple we met on the wood trail was like that. The white haired woman --I'd put her in her late seventies-- was leading a small overweight white poodle mix and was followed by her wispy haired husband, probably in his eighties. His legs, pink skinny legs, were bare although he wore wool socks with his sandals, per northwest fashion. To my surprise the show wasn't over once we shared pleasantries with the woman and her dog. The man stood aside and held out a present for Winnie. "Just a small one," he said to our dog, holding out a little dog biscuit shaped like a bone but the size of a paper clip. She hesitated to take it from his open palm. Then he produced a bigger dog biscuit and her reluctance vanished. She gulped it down as he grinned, and so did I at this unexpected treat for her. This man had thought this through ahead of time--equipped his pockets with multiple sized dog treats, and sensing the occasion to share his wealth, had them ready for Winnie as we walked by.
Not the first expression of kindness recently... Dawn, the ranger cheerfully accommodated our move from one campsite to another (further from the noise of the road), then just as cheerfully refunded our money for the last two nights. The host at Beachside who chatted us up about campers and complimented our rig. The ranger at the new campground who pointed out that breakfast was waiting for us--huckleberries were ripening right next to where we parked our camper. The Canadian woman who shared the sunset with me last night, and of course, Lynne who prompted me to go watch the sunset in the first place, who held back in playing Scrabble to soften the loss, and made us chicken curry for dinner. Kindness all around.