This is intended to give you a sense of what it means to be me.
I grew up on a small island in the Salish Sea. We were isolated from mainland culture. Mail and freight came three days a week by boat. No one on the island had a telephone or television. We lived in a log cabin without electricity or running water. Our radio ran off the truck battery and was seldom used. We lived close to Nature with few sounds or news of the outside world.
The cabin was built for shelter, not posterity. Today the memories it holds are composting and settling into the earth.
Our place was between the forest and the sea.
I learned early to row and read the tides.
During the 1950s, six to eight families lived on the island depending on the year. The one-room island school went to eighth grade. All of the school children went barefoot in the spring, summer, and fall. Bare feet, like fingers, discern sensory information. Nature spoke through my soles.
In 1963, my mother, sister, and I moved to Bellingham for the school year so I could attend high school. It was a major culture shock. I did not know how to make sense of mainland culture. On the island, everyone spoke in familiar terms. On the mainland, I entered a world of strangers with different customs and ways of speaking.
The Story We Are Living, my new work, grew out of my effort to decipher mainland culture, which became especially important after I had children.
Skye, building the woodshed, 1998
My second husband and I moved to the island in 1986. We cleared land for gardens. I built our cabin, while Richard earned money for supplies. He felled the trees. We hired a man with a portable sawmill to cut the lumber to my specifications. We lived on the island for fifteen years before moving Bellingham in 2001, just before 9/11.