I am currently wrapped up in a thick warm blanket, snuggled up in Tobbit for the night and listening to classical guitar as the candles flicker and the Christmas lights glow on. I can see my breath. If I were to step outside for a minute, which I just got back from doing, I'd see a vast open sky full of stars and no light pollution to taint the majesty of it all.
I'm parked in a grassy field right on the edge of a cliff that overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In the morning, when I peek out of my portholes, I'll see grass, water, and sky. Life is amazing and I can't stop feeling an endless stream of gratitude. I hear the waves, it's all surreal.
To take this all a step further, expanding on why I feel so much gratitude, I'll have to go into the past 60 hours of sheer bliss. I promise you that it will involve kayaking wayyyy too close to whales, reading with folks in a field, rainy concerts from Tobbit's tailgate, sailing, busking, and the house from the current cover of Country Living. I hope I didn't just give away too much, but I know this will be a wordy post and I wanted you to be able to have a chance to sense out if you want to keep reading or not.
I don't know that I was...
Arise Saturday morning, arise!
I had a slow start to my morning, doing my morning clean and going through my books and organizing them on the side of Tobbit. Irene biked by with Wren, her grandson, sitting on the back, pleased as pie (is that a phrase? I think it is, or it should be).
11 AM approached and I packed up my cello in Tobbit and set off for town - time for the Farmer's Market! There's usually folks to make music with. I parked in the center of town and walked barefootedly to the market, strolling till I found the tacos.
Emily and Steve make legendary tacos, I think. $5 for 3 of them is definitely worth it, as well. If you ever visit me on a Saturday, I will buy you 3 tacos. With tacos in hand, I ran into Jesse - a talented musician of all sorts. We would make music together. I got a few greetings in (Charlie, Libby, Kiré, Michelle, Emily) and then set up camp for the next hour.
I asked a family at the picnic bench if I could join them. A little sir, Joshua, soon had me enwrapped in a conversation and I quickly handed the 5-year-old my cello to try out. His cousin tried as well. Once the camaraderie was swell and we all felt good, I started to play and Jesse soon joined - but first putting down his hat to see if we might get enough for supper.
Jesse is a musician I respect. When he asks me to lead, he can follow. When he leads, he leaves room to play and plays right on back. He has a well-tuned ear for a variety of genres and game for just about anything. He's perfect to jam with. Today, he had his banjo.
We ran through a few hymns and other folkish songs (the Beatles count as folk, right?) and were able to meld the cello and banjo sounds together into music that was pleasing to the ear - enough to get us $36 in an hour.
I met Jesse during my second week on Lopez. I was down at the ferry dock and this ol' Harlequin-style VW bus comes down the hill and a long-haired lad jumped out. He looked like the sort of fellow who's company I enjoyed so a conversation was initiated. I remember thinking, "I hope I meet this human again, I think we could be friends," and, low and behold, I've now spent a substantial amount of time in the past 48 hours with he and his loving partner, Kiré. I love it when you can see them, think, "I want to be their friend!" and then have it be so in time.
As the rain picked up, we were obliged to pack up. We made more money, though, than I normally make per hour. Busking always amuses me - people give you dollars for doing something you'd be doing otherwise. As I left, though, Hans (David, Hans David, David Hans) called out my name to deliver the good news - we would go sailing that afternoon at 4 PM.
I dashed to the library for the next few hours for some life admin and to sort out all of my post and work on getting some addresses on some cards I had around. I ran into John! He is generally successful in making me grin - currently 9 for 9. I also saw Davis right as I was packing to leave but had to skitter off.
4 PM at the Galley - turns out we had quite the crew. Collectively, there were 10 of us about to board a tiny sailboat (Kiré, Jesse, Hans David, Ryan, Sam, Dylan, Orange Guy, Sawyer, Paul, and me). Grant sailed up to the Whiskey Hill dock and we stumbled down to meet him and the rest of the group (I didn't really get to know them - there were four of them) and together we had 14 of us, or so... I think. It wasn't really a number you wanted to know on a boat of this size.
We were a happy lot - we had the sun, beer, and good company. The only thing missing was a good breeze. We didn't even the bay, Fisherman's Bay, but all was dandy and well. Eventually, at the end, we got a bit of wind. There was lots of yelling and dodging each time the sail would move. Folks up front would have to drop low to avoid getting hit and to let it pass over them. At one point, we hit a dock and there was a cracking sound.
After a few laps, we were returned to the dock where the same crew that we started with got off. Folks of all corners of the group started to mention a beach and we all jumped on board with that idea. We caravanned to the market for dinner and then headed to Dylan's property where he told us there was a beach.
We drove around a few bends and took a few turns and soon found ourselves on a vast piece of old farm property. The house, we were told, had just turned 101 years and was currently on the cover of Country Living. Right past the house there was a clearing in the field that took us through the tall hay and that's where we drove. In the Subaru ahead of me, Sawyer leaned his body out the window, letting the long pieces of hay slap whimsically on his face. As Tobbit bumped along the grassy lane, I kept thinking, in rhythm, "It's summer. It's summer. It's summer. I'm right where I want to be." Everything was whimsical and bright.
We arrived at something of a bluff or a cliff, the field all of a sudden stopped, there's a steep drop, a thin strip of a driftwood-beach, and then a bay with the Strait behind it and, beyond all of that, the beach on San Juan Island that I grew up playing on.
Our automobiles formed a caravan's ring, an awkward unintentional feat, and everyone hopped out to take in the corner of the world we'd just landed on.
There happened to be an inevitable divide within the group which could be illustrated at a moment later in the night where one group was playing hacky sack and the remaining crew was sitting on and around Tobbit's tailgate and reading out loud and looking at a book of numbers, music, and geometry. Everyone was armed with alcoholic beverages, some with a few more sips than others. I kept my drinking limited to one bottle and a few glugs over the day from the growler that Kiré carried.
One sir got intoxicated to a higher level than the rest of us. Even in state of inebriation, he was still sweet, although amusing, at times, and even more so often, he triggered my inner-Mama Bear. On the boat, he had noticed my foot bearing the word "bear" on it and decided to call me "Bear," which was fine with me. Then he called me "Little Bear." On the boat, he kept looking at my foot and occasionally touching it - behavior I ignored. But, later on in the evening, he grabbed my foot and put it in his mouth - really far into his mouth. I've been running around barefoot all day long, only 4 minutes total spent in shoes, so I knew where my foot had been. I didn't recoil because I was just amused. I didn't care if my foot was in his mouth - it was strange, but it didn't have a negative affect on me, just made me laugh. Later in the evening, though, I appreciated that he came and apologized as it had been done without consent. I'd like to meet him sober some day, you can tell there's a sweet guy in there. I was pleased to be with a group that did watch out for him and I knew he was in good hands when everyone left.
30, or so, minutes after we arrived, Jesse and Kiré broke out the grill - the sort that I grew up eating off of with my folks. They had the coals and everything and soon has a sweet blaze going. They laid out a few sausages and that was dinner - sausages with olive bread. I had my cloves in one hand and a sausage in the other, totally blissed out. There is no place I'd rather be, right now. Not Switzerland, not Alaska, not Ukraine. I want to be on Lopez Island, Washington right now.
I forgot how the book came out, but Hans, David, Hans David, broke out a book that spoke of numbers, connections, music, patterns, and geometry to show a few of us. He'd flip around to his favourite chapters and read us excerpts and point out different illustrations. It wasn't too many posts ago that I wrote on how I love being read to - this was no exceptions. Grassy field, safe on Tobbit's tailgate, being read to, sea breezes, cooling evening air, full belly, satisfying company.
When Jesse broke out his banjo, life slipped over the top into another surreal realm of contentedness. I got out my cello and we jammed away as those gathered slowly fell down one by one by one, 'cept the intoxicated fellow who wandered off into the woods. Kiré found herself in a little field of daisies - right where she belongs.
I asked the nucleus-of-a-crew-near-me, David, Kiré, Dylan, and Jesse, if they liked gathering with other folks to read. They told me they did, so we made plans for 2 PM the next day to gather at the same location with a book to devour. I can think of few things so sweet as reading next to others - having company in what is generally a solo-act - having silence among a crowd. This group, the five of us, felt right - a sensation I can later explore after I recapture the last of the 24 hours I set out to document when I began this blog post.
It was soon dark and there was a concert in town to attend. Every packed up except for me. Dylan had offered me this corner of land to park on, overlooking the Salish Sea, till Tuesday. I set Tobbit up for the night, lighting the Christmas lights, little lantern, and candles and sprinkling lavender oil around. There is a fact that I must, must make Tobbit look cozy and welcoming every night. For me to live in a tiny, tiny box, about the size of a twin-sized mattress, it must be lovely and a space where I want to be. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on Tobbit and it's been really encouraging - everyone is supportive of my dream-turned-real-life. Hans and Jesse hopped in and found how I feel when I hang out in Tobbit - they didn't want to leave.
One by one, the caravan departed and I was left alone by the sea and utterly content and at ease. I had the ultimate solitude in a surreal location. Sleep, though, came roughly as the rain pounded down. Every time I hear someone say they like the sound of rain on the roof, I want to laugh like this, "HA!" They must have a pleasant roof that accompanies rain well - Tobbit does not. When rain hits the little caddy shack, it pounds violently. I couldn't sleep till late, woke up in the middle of the night for an hour or two, and woke again at 4:40 AM. Not the best night sleep, but an amazing view and a sense of gratefulness that was apparent enough to overwhelm any other emotion.