Jean Croker Petke



I’ve been to the promised land — not The Promised Land of the Bible — but my personal promised land. The place where I feel grounded, where I reconnect with my roots and the earth and my family.  I generally go every year.

I went to many of my usual places along the Oregon Coast — lunch at the Tillamook Creamery and shopping at Syzygy in Manzanita. I only ate one lunch at Tillamook though I was in the town several times. However, I did two years’ shopping at Syzygy — where the owner is exceptionally helpful in finding great items for me.

I didn’t take many photos this year, because I’ve taken all the photos on previous trips. The rocks and cliffs and waves still look the same. The sunsets are still gorgeous. In fact, I’ve discovered I can dredge up mind pictures of the Oregon Coast any time I wish. It’s futile to try to recapture or replace the scenes that are already in my brain.

I’ve been wandering a bit as I write this post, wondering what does syzygy mean and why would a person use it as a name for their store. And remembering the adage, “All who wander are not lost.” Some of us who wander are simply curious about words and shops and experiences and people.

Syzygy: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition)

The store’s website says “SYZYGY is a lifestyle shop that specializes in offering unique quality clothing, shoes and accessories, including items for the home and garden.”

From a distance and place of reflection, I’m thinking syzygy really means a coming together, an alignment of things, which can apply to a variety of situations and happenings. At the store I can find everything I need to create an entire ensemble. I nearly did that this year, but I skipped shoes, a scarf, and a hat. But the entire trip is a coming together of many things: putting my feet in the magnificent cold Pacific Ocean, spending time with friends and family, exploring coastal towns, trying and savoring new tastes, returning to childhood places. And syzygy means allowing things, events, and people to align in their own ways, independent of my planning and need to control and schedule.

  • a scenic highway filled with young memories
  • a great niece who won my heart though she kept her distance
  • exquisite lemon cheesecake baked by and shared with family
  • high tea at a historic hotel shared with family
  • Tillamook grilled cheese sandwich
  • fresh tuna kabobs on greens with local berries at Local Ocean
  • frozen mochas on a summer afternoon
  • salmon and prawns, boysenberries and marionberries
  • roaming IKEA with my daughter
  • hanging out at a car show
  • games and jigsaw puzzles


People often ask me what was the highlight of the trip or my favorite part. That’s like asking which child is your favorite or the one you love the most. Each experience is unique — special in its own way. There are no favorites. It’s all good.

I’m off now to explore the Atlantic Coast with women I’ve known for forty years. It doesn’t really matter what we do. What matters is that we’re together, having some realignment time of our own. Somehow the ocean helps.

Until next Tuesday . . .