West Beach Weekend

Welcome to West Beach - Orcas Island, WA

Welcome to West Beach - Orcas Island, WA

There’s something to be said for getting out of town for a few days.  Those things that cause you turmoil and ambush your peace of mind are left far behind you.  Go worry someone else. No stacks of mail to sort through, no sink that needs scrubbing, no cloud of remember-whens to stifle your ability to live your own happy life.  Instead there is salt air and sunshine, the hiss of waves on sand, and sunwarmed pebbles to sweep your hands through, searching for that one perfect treasure to take home.
A sunlit ferry ride carried us to Orcas Island, WA (home of Cat Bordhi!) and miles away from things we didn’t want to worry about.  Mom was there, and R. Darling and his kayaking friend.  The first day was travel, grocery store food for lunch, a walk on the beach while the guys firmed up details for their 2 day kayaking class with Body Boat Blade, and later, dinner at the Tavern in Eastsound.  Apparently it’s quite easy to say you have the “best burgers in town” if you have the only burgers in town.  But the food was deservedly amazing.  Back at Cabin #4, West Beach Resort, for the night – replete with circa 1938 dark wood paneling, vintage door hardware, creaking floors, arctic bathroom and munchkin sized shower – we caught the last breath of sun as it sank into the ocean.  While the sky continued to drip mauve and persimmon, we filled our lungs with one last breath of campfire and salt breeze and turned in for the night.
Our rustic abode: Cabin #4 at West Beach Resort

Our rustic abode: Cabin #4 at West Beach Resort

Saturday dawned cold and cloudy, though it would warm to a pleasant afternoon. R. Darling and I had coffee together before his class and later, when he had gone, Mom and I drove to Beach Haven.  In the late 197o’s she and Dad had stayed on the island for a weekend and she couldn’t quite remember where, but thought Beach Haven might have been the place.  They had dug  clams right on the beach, cleaned them with cornmeal, and eaten their fill in front of a roaring fire.  After stuffing themselves, Mom had strung the remaining clams on thread and smoked them over the fire.  She tells me staying here with Dad was one of the happiest memories of her life.  I wish he could have been there that day as we stood on the beach and looked at the horizon, remembering happier times.
West Beach Resort viewed from the pier

West Beach Resort viewed from the pier

After Beach Haven, it was off to explore some of Eastsound.  With the pastry shop closed, we instead made Poppies Fine Yarns our first stop.  Though the selection was not as bountiful as what I’ve become used to, I did find the perfect yarn for Mom’s long requested Fake Isle Hat with Earflaps (am going to have to improvise this on my 0wn) and best of all, she okayed the choices herself so there will be no danger of, “It’s too itchy!  I don’t like the color!”.  This makes me happy.  A few galleries, and a long search for the “perfect” espresso (Mom, not me) behind us, we bought a couple sandwiches and headed back to the cabin for the afternoon.  I started a pair of Berry Hill fingerless mittens in some Mirasol Hacho I received recently but decided they just seemed too small (I suspect I have manhands) and quit working after separating the thumb stitches.
These Berry Hill Mitts seem much too small.....

These Berry Hill Mitts seem much too small.....

We went for a walk instead and continued our search for non-existent agates, while heartily resisting the urge to take a nap.  R. Darling finished class much sooner than expected and after he cleaned up we all went for pizza and arrived back in time to see a spectacular sunset.


I heard a quote not long ago and it has been turning over in my mind, like a gentle wave worrying a piece of polished glass, smoothing away the sharp edges that draw blood when you are least expecting it:

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”
~Isak Dinesen

I’ve had the tears, I’ve tried the sea and the only balm that is left is sweat.



Dad & Me - October 1979.  Can you say Daddy's Girl?

Dad & Me - October 1979. Can you say Daddy's Girl?


Some summer evenings R. Darling and I will take a trail near the lake, he on foot and me astride Bluebell.  As the sun lowers itself into the velvety hills for the night, the last dying rays suddenly illuminate the chill waters of the lake and reflect back to us a vision of a world upside down.  A world like the one I’ve come to know, in which things you thought were solid and infinite shift and waver beneath you, only to be shattered with a splash.  The sudden loss and resulting emptiness spills over me as the ripples recede into infinity.

Though my mind has adjusted to the facts, my heart has not.  When I dial the numbers I still, for a moment, expect to hear that familiar voice on the other end, “Oh hi honey!  How’s my favorite daughter?” And I say something like, I’m OK.  But you know I’m your only daughter, Dad. And he says, per usual, “I know.  But you’re still my favorite.” It’s just not fair that Dad’s don’t live forever.

We picked up his ashes on Tuesday morning.  When they placed the box in my hands I wanted to feel something momentous and worthy of the moment, but all I could do was marvel at how heavy the box felt as my hands encircled it.  A lifetime of love, experience, joy, and heartbreak, reduced to this small box of ashes.  The sadness swooped in later.

But I’m here and I’m still living.  I’m returning to my blog because, well, Dad would have wanted me to.  The forever aspiring writer, he would have encouraged this life I have here, this exercise in narrative.  I wish now I’d have let him read it instead of keeping it secret.  But perhaps somewhere, his soul knows and approves.

Many heartfelt thanks to all of you special people out there who e-mailed, commented, wrote, or just spared a moment for a positive thought for me and my family through all of this.  You know who you are, and I am so grateful to each and every one of you.  Your kindness has touched and comforted me in ways I can’t even begin to express to you and I am so thankful to have you all in my life.  Here’s to hoping I can make it up to you someday, though hopefully under much happier circumstances.  You are simply the best. I know Dad would agree.