Monday, August 19, 2013

The Island

Friday and Saturday we went in the boat with my parents to "The Island" as Liam likes to call it.  This is not any of the usual suspects when people around here talk about islands; instead it's a little state park, in the south part of Puget Sound, McMicken Island.

As luck would have it, I forgot my camera, so the photos here are all culled from other places on the Internets.  (Here, actually, thank you.)  It's hard to go forward without photos because the place really is magical.

It's a tiny, small island, connected to a much larger island at low tide by a sandbar.  Liam and I walked across it.  Then walked back.  On the sand bar side are amazing eel grass beds and every kind of intertidal creature you can imagine.  On the other side is an eagle nest and a giant erratic left by the last glacier.  Big enough to be marked on charts.

I hadn't thought much about magic for many years, but when you have a small child around you develop a new relationship with the idea.  That moment when the water under the row boat is 5 or 6 feed deep and clear so you can see to the bottom, and that secret undersea world starts to peek out at you.  Magic.  Noise of kingfishers, scolding and diving, also magic.  Seals.  Tides.  Sandbars.  Islands in the first place.  All magic.  And why not.

At low tide we saw moon snails (and brought home an empty shell), reefs of mussels, a sand dollar garden, every manner of sea star, sea anemones, hermit crabs.   Liam carefully collected some of each, brought them back to the boat to live for an hour or so in pots and pans with a little sea water, until they were even more carefully returned to their homes.

Tonight we walked out down the ally to bring in the yard bin.  One of the neighbors was out and we got to talking about the island.  Liam loves to tell people about it. She told how night before last they saw a great horned owl in one of the trees across the road.  Passing through.  We talked about owl boxes for a few minutes.  They promised to call -- day or night -- if it came back.

Right after Will died we had an owl take up temporary residence in our yard.  It would sit in the rhododendron tree, or in the mash up of fir and hemlock across the ally.  We heard it every night.  I still think of it.  I remember laying there listening to it over the rain, trying to figure out what type of owl it might be. I thought it was a Saw-Whet owl, I told them.  No, they told me, male screech owl. Calling.  It was here for eight weeks.

The south part of Puget Sound is made up of finger inlets.  Six or seven main ones, depending on how you count.  Henderson, Budd, Eld, Totten, Hammersly, Case, and Carr.  I guess I count seven.  Before we got here, separate bands of native peoples lived along the shores of each inlet.  The clam legend  teaches that in the long ago time the Raven put people into clamshells and dropped them all around Puget Sound. According to the story, this started the various small bands of Native Peoples up and down Puget Sound.  Magic.


Eb said...

that was a lovely read. thanks Elizabeth. Hope you and Liam are doing well.

Kate said...