Sep 29, 2020

Going Home ….

I found this entry  I wrote several years ago . It really brought me back to how I felt . It s really true and honest . I am so grateful I wrote it . If you can do something for yourself …write . Write your thoughts your feelings and hopes . Its amazing to go back and see your heart . You’ll be surprised what comes out .

Jan 26, 2014

I don’t get to go home that often . If I’m lucky, about every other year  , that’s not to often in my mind but I always look forward to it every single moment.  It’s just a little island way up in the northern tip of Washington , Guemes Island . It’s where I grew up amongst the Cascade mountains view from the waters edge to the east and the San Juans to the West.    Not until I hit the bridge on Hwy 20 does it  send feelings of coming home . Yet I remember the days when it was only a draw bridge and wed have to wait sometimes for it to close. Rounding the bend seeing the sign saying ” welcome to Anacortes.”  I start to see the bay and part of the sound surrounded by tall douglas firs at the peak of the bridge and groves of alders.  The sweet smell of salt water fills me as if I had not been breathing fully all this time I was away. It feels so good and intoxicates my soul.   I just keep inhaling deeply  as if I might not get this feeling again yet I never forget it .

When, I finally roll down 6th street  towards the little green ferry dock where I walked nearly everyday. The seagulls squack and the marina’s sounds of lapping water against the pilings sound comforting like a lullabye.   I love seeing this place . It’s where I traveled everyday to school to the “mainland ”  and walked up the hill to wait for the yellow bus as a child.  The outward appearance of the channel of water hasn’t changed as I look across the same  blue green shade of waves to the island  waiting for me to come home. Its odd how something like that doesn’t change after years yet it is changing every single minute with the waters restlessness and the surroundings but the perimeter of this sea filled channel stays mostly untouched .  The water never ceases to stop moving . It continues on its way just as it did always and forever til it is no more.  The occasional tugboat or barge from a far away land enters  to the port up the way . I was always amazed that a barge from a land like China or Japan would make its entrance to our little tiny town .

A lot of other things have changed since I grew up . New people have come and gone, buildings have been built ,and now there’s a small general store on Guemes Island . Change is inevitable but I find comfort in the things that stay the same . Many things that were most important to me have changed but the most important people are  still  there . One thing that has stayed the same is   My grandmother and grandfather are still living there  and always will . My grandfather , one of very few , was born and raised there, and attended school at the Guemes School House as did my mom .  He lives in the house he grew up in and was born in,  built by my  German great grandfather  a rather tall stoic man .  They were a family of traveling loggers, long shore-man and cattle farmers.  The Homestead is now a creamy farm house but I fondly remember it always having grayed  red cedar shingles  my entire life . The barn is out back still with the cattle corral attached and the concrete cistern .  The   garden  was a show stopper grown  in the front where grandma grew vegetables and shared with any friend who stopped by or even stranger for that matter. People we didn’t even know would stop by to say “Hi” especially during the summer . Some summers we would take the old green ford down to the ferry dock filled with corn to sell . So many appreciated the homegrwon corn .  We weeded the garden along with grandma as one of our many chores.  My grandparents seemed to be like an icon in my memories to Guemes Island. The spot where the garden grew  is   now replaced with green grass and a Tall evergreen tree growing beautifully out of another tree stump that my grandpa scooped out of the woods  on his 254 acres  with his dozer or skidder . He carried it with his tractor bucket and placed it there. They are called nurse stumps and they provide food for new trees to grow. It has madrona trees growing around it. Something I like is jsut hearing my grandpas voice say “madrona ”  . I dont know whay . I just loved how excited he would get about different trees.

I remember a vibrant metal turquoise blue kitchen where grandpa always walked in from outside to get a snack . He would see me  and would  ask ” What do you say ? ”  as he lovingly wrapped his strong arms around me to   hold my shoulders and curly hair  along with  a torturious rasping of his whiskers across my three year old cheeks. He always either  smelled of wood chips, hay ,  or diesel and more often than not it was usually  a combination of all three . His scent was strong but was a smell I cherished and still do .

I would always squeal with delight . ” I LOVE you , GRRRrrrr…Andpa ! I love you !!  ” .

I would continue to say it but sometimes by this point ,  laughing so hard , it would take several attempts to get the whole thing out. If he wanted to make me laugh more he would say ” what ………I can’t hear yooooou…….” and tickle me in my neck behind my ear with a kind of pinch to get me laughing even more .

Finally,  when he thought I’d had enough  He would let me go , grin and chuckle as he picked on a morsel of  pie , or some other goodie grandma had baked that day. He continued this ritual even all through my teenage years . He is a very funny , gentle grandpa. A man of important words so when he has something to say you better listen because it is something you might not want to ever forget !  He had a strong character . Some think he is hard to get along with but if you thought that you weren’t his friend probably because he believes in right over wrong ,integrity and character. I loved spending time with my grandparents and always looked forward to it .

My grandma taught me important things like making Pies !  She was the best and her smile and laughter was incredibly contatious . She taught me the proper way to make a bed with the special hospital corners she learned as a candy striper , she taught me to sew quilts,  and even knit before there was ever a Martha Stewart around or you tube and before it was “cool”. I sort of sound old fashioned but I like those things because of the person who taught them to me  and the memories it made.  { Secretly, one day I would like to make pies in a little Cafe using my grandmas recipes. }  My grandma is a fabulous cook  ! She never just made a simple dinner . It always felt like a gourmet meal with so much food she could of fed at least 10 people at every sitting . Comfort food that made your tummy smile .  She always asked if you had enough and passed another plate around . Oh, and the pies . When she made those , there were at least 3 to choose from . I remember spending my teenage years riding a brown old fashioned Schwinn bike for the purpose of trying to reverse the calories I just consumed  or to determine how many slices I could eat by the rounds around the driveway I made . My cousin and I spent many rounds around the driveway  at Christmas or Easter those days .

As I grew , I learned even more just how special this place was .  It ‘s  a small 8 square mile radius of an island in the San Juan Islands. Everyone  seemed to know each other then and all about their life .  People were kind to one another. The last ferry was 6 pm during the week and Friday or Saturday had a 12 midnight run. I felt like Cinderella  with only certain hours to be out.   Luckily , I had such good friends so I was able to play sports and would stay the night on game nights with them during the season of volleyball and softball.  It always seemed like an inconvience as a teen  but still I liked to be secluded in a way from the rest of the world on my quiet and serene island when I wanted . I believe it may have helped me to be independent , patient , and caring or maybe those were already instilled in me by my grandmother.  I journaled a lot as a kid and would sit in my grandparents home upstairs in front of a window  as the sun seeped behind the neighboring islands casting a rich glow  across the water  behind the old windmill in the field above the beach .  There I sat in a tattered  upholstered rocking chair that had been downstairs for years in the living room until it was relocated in the unused upstairs where my room was. I would face it  towards the beach and would write . Sometimes it was about my life,  a letter to my very best  childhood  friend TB Robin ,   or poems , or some sort of sketched drawing  .  I dreamed about what others like me did in other worlds far away sometimes.  I wrote to my penpal across the pond.   It was my security  knowing that I could always go there and be in that moment . It was a safe place and quietness.

Sometimes ,  and this  is amazing to me even as I write it , as if I only dreamed it;  but I know it to be true. Sometimes,  you could hear the killer whales making their noises and blowing water out their spouts as they swam through the island channel.  They would make their way through that channel and it was such an amazing thing to see.  I thought this was normal and never realized that these were things others didn’t ever witness , only a few .  …until I moved away. I hope they still make their way through that path in the salt water sound. It is such a beautiful sight to see.

When I went home this last October 2013 ,  I went for a quiet walk like I always do  on the beach . I searched for agates along the pebbled shore .  Smelled the air and seaweed in the air .  Felt the wind blow across my cheeks as the tears streamed down my face .  I will always love that island . Its a part of me and where my heart will be . I am sad for the day when I go and the people I love and miss are no longer there  because I still see them in ways I will never forget .   Those are the things that never change in my mind.  Memories that no one can take away no matter how lives get disrupted .




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