A few things have changed since we last came to Orcas Island, though much of it remains as I remember it. Doe Bay Resort, where we had a class retreat for our music program back in college, got a whole lot bigger and expanded into multiple dwellings and even a cafe. Mark reminded me that some of us went swimming in the cold September waters on a dare during that trip. It was probably the only time I ever went swimming in Washington. I find the water unbearingly frigid and can’t even stand to dip my feet; they immediately go numb. The kids remarked at the difference in water temperature as well, but that didn’t stop them from wading in or swimming in the lake. I don’t know why some memories can be conjured up so clearly while others lurk in the shadows. I can remember how the air smelled during that class trip, how windy and cold it was up on the mountain, and the evenings filled with drums and music in the big retreat house we all stayed in. We drove 2 big school vans up to the ferry, a 3 hour road trip from campus. I don’t know if anyone had a camera. It’s quite possible that no photos of the trip exist. Isn’t that something? A stark contrast to now.
On this trip, we cooked all but one of our meals while on the island and ate them out on the deck on the weathered table: A barbeque, Norwegian-style pancakes with fresh blueberry and huckleberry sauces, zucchini bread, eggs, fennel salad, and quesadillas made with leftover pork from our Hawaiian feast. But the best of all were the crabs and the clams from a local shop that laid traps in the nearby water.
A short walk to the beach is always a good way to start and end the day. When I stand here and remember where I am – on a tiny island on the most northwestern tip of the US – I can’t help but feel like I’m standing at the edge of the earth.
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These are the sort of vacations that the girls will have fond memories of when they look back on their childhoods: a house full of family, meals eaten outside. This is a 70th birthday to remember – surrounded by family, a surprise Hawaiian dinner cooked by a son and a birthday cake baked in Seattle and transported 100 miles by car and ferry. Deer wandered into our backyard in the evenings and we saw the full spectrum of stars at night.
Orcas Island was the first island I visited in the San Juans and it’s still magical 21 years later. It remains one of my favorite places on earth.
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Looks like we escaped that crazy, record breaking rainstorm on Long Island just in time. We were watching the weather all day, wondering if our flight would get delayed, but it was on time and we even flew in 45 minutes early, missing the storm on the East Coast by a few hours. I feel like we’ve had some good weather karma this summer, escaping rain on market days when it’s been in the forecast.
The days here in Washington so far have been drizzly and cool. We come in August because it’s usually a guarantee of the best weather of the year. The sun usually shines and the temps are warm but dry, and it feels like an escape from the humidity back home. This summer in NY, however, has been unusual in that we barely hit above 85 degrees and for the most part, wasn’t as humid as you would expect when you conjure up images of hazy East Coast summers. The weather this summer has been spectacular, in fact. The grayness here so far has been fine – typical of weather here year round and it reminds me of the days when I lived here. I think about our vaguely loose plan of moving back here in 20 or so years – you know, when we’re ready to retire or whatever that means, and whether I can truly get used to the damp and the gray again. I get cold easily. But it feels good right now, wrapping a jacket and a sweater when we’re out in the mornings and putting on socks for what seems like the first time in weeks.
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Hard to believe this is NYC, but it is. Wave Hill has been on our list of places to visit for years, but we only got around to it this summer a few weekends ago. It might very well be one of my favorite places in the city now. The various gardens are beautiful, but I love that there are so many things to look at – in the cracks along the stone walls, in the archways, and in the many little pots that house succulents and plants that I’ve never even seen before. It’s peaceful here and I’ve been seeking out places of refuge in the city this summer just to think.
We’re going to spend a week on a small island in the Pacific Northwest soon. Looking forward to staring out at that ocean, and looking up and seeing stars.
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This has been a summer of loss. Another member of our family passed away yesterday – a woman who I grew fond of and who–interestingly–grew closer to our family by reading this blog. She used to comment here regularly up until recently when she became ill and would email wondering if I was ok when I didn’t post everyday. After it was clear that she wasn’t up to traveling to Washington this summer as she did every summer where we’d meet, we talked about meeting up in Hawaii instead next summer where she lived. I thought about her yesterday when I read that Hawaii was bracing itself for 2 hurricanes, but I didn’t expect this bit of news quite yet. Marie, I’m sorry that we won’t have a chance to meet up next summer as we talked about in our emails.
My side of the family had been spared the devastation of loss up until my brother died. In that respect we’ve been fortunate, but I think it’s also why my brother’s death was so profound. Everyone felt the shock of it during our memorial at the cemetery when our whole entire family gathered for our first funeral. We have a family plot reserved for several members of our family, but nobody expected that the first name to be etched on a grave would be one of the youngest, or that our 92 year old grandmother would survive her grandchild.
In a lot of ways the last 2 weeks have been harder than the 2 months following the initial shock. That’s why I embraced office life this summer even though the idea of working in one would have been a deal breaker for me in the past. I don’t really think about things other than the work when I’m there, but when I’m home, I often find myself just staring into space. I know my mom feels the same way. Certain days just catch you off guard though, and I found myself crying on the subway Monday morning on the way to the doctor’s office rather randomly. But…I thought I was starting to move past all this? But no. When you live through a tragic and traumatic death, there really is no easy way to move past anything.
A friend of mine recently asked me if I felt like an only child now. My answer was yes, I do.
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