Christmas is over and you’d think I’d had enough, but as I was feeling restive from an abundance of cooking and cleaning, in an effort to amuse me, last week, Mr. Sax, my husband, offered to join me for an hour or so playing tourist. Growing up in an east coast beach town, I know how easy it is for full-time residents to grow impatient, dare I say annoyed, with tourists. Tourist season is a year round thing in Cannon Beach where winter visitors thrill about making the pilgrimage to Haystack Rock during low tide on a windswept winter day before heading back to their cozy vacation rental for a nostalgic evening of board games.
TripSavvy, a tourism guide, advocates winter visitors explore Ecola State Park, hit the city’s high quality art galleries, pay a visit to the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum, watch live glass blowing at IceFire Glassworks, or take in a play at the Coaster Theater Playhouse.
My own favorite touristy thing to do in Cannon Beach is enjoy a Parisian-worthy hot chocolate at the Chocolate Café. This place is a gem; if hot chocolate isn’t your thing, they make espresso drinks and French-press coffee. The main attraction is chocolate, in particular truffles. The owners have curated a variety of chocolates from around the world. Something they persist in calling a handmade milkshake is so thick and creamy it’s indistinguishable from ice cream. Forget the straw; you must eat it with a spoon. The foamy hot chocolate is made from pure chocolate and whole milk. There are no powders, no fillers, and no syrups. It’s just milk … and chocolate.
After slaking my lust for something sweet, Mr. Sax and I wandered into Jupiter’s Books on North Spruce Street. While my husband conversed with the owner, I browsed the shelves where I discovered an old friend, the illustrated collection of stories called “Amphigorey.”
“Amphigorey” was first published in 1972. Collected in one paperback volume, it’s actually fifteen macabre short stories written and illustrated by Edward Gorey, an American artist. The stories include “The Unstrung Harp,” “The Object Lesson,” and “The Curious Sofa,” and my own lurid favorite, “The Gashlycrumb Tinies.”
“The Gashlycrumb Tinies” was originally published on its own in 1963; it’s an illustrated tale of 26 children, each representing a letter of the alphabet, their untimely deaths relayed in rhyming couplet. “The Gashlycrumb Tines” is Gorey’s most notorious and best known work. Famously reviewed as “a sarcastic rebellion against a sunny, idyllic childhood,” the morbid humor is derived from the mundane ways children can perish, such as falling down stairs, drowning, choking on a peach, or, my personal favorite, “B is for Basil assaulted by bears.”
In 1973 a college friend named Corey gave me “Amphigorey” as a gift. I lost Corey fourteen years later during the AIDS crisis. My copy of the book mysteriously disappeared from my shelves. I’m pretty sure somebody swiped it.
Happily, thanks to a wonderful used books bookstore, once again, it’s mine.