The middle of August and things are changing on the island. We barely had a summer this year and it’s already rolling on to fall.
John and Betsy sold their house and are moving to Texas. John is my second cousin. His father was my father’s first cousin, but I didn’t know him or even know of his existence until I came to the island. One day,12 years ago, when I was visiting my ex in Bellingham he told me there was a new guy at his tennis club named John Fincke. I said if it was spelled with a cke I must be related to him — it’s an unusual spelling of the name.
Although John lived on the island it was almost another year before I met him. It was on the morning of 9/11 at the ferry dock. I had come down to take the passenger ferry (it was the period of dry dock with no car ferry); a man came up to me and said, excitedly, “Have you heard the news?” Since I have no TV and had been in too much of a hurry that morning to turn on the radio I had heard nothing. The man then told me all the details of the 9/11 attacks. We sat together on the ferry on the trip over and talked about the astonishing events and what might happen next. We were so engrossed in the news that we didn’t exchange names as one usually does when becoming acquainted on the ferry. My ex met me on the other side to take me to lunch and introduced us.
John and I became good friends. He often took me out on his boat to go crabbing or just cruise. Sometimes Betsy came too, but she had significant health problems and so often needed to stay quiet. Sometimes I went to concerts with him to use the ticket when Betsy wasn’t well enough to go. One evening we went out in his little outboard motor boat to clandestinely pull up his illegal crab pot (crab season was over). It was a beautiful calm evening; the sun was setting in the west and the moon rising in the east and I was scared the whole time that the coast guard would catch us. The penalties for crab fishing out of season are substantial. I thought John was very audacious, but I didn’t really approve and felt a bit guilty about participating. But I admit that I enjoyed adventure. There were no crabs in the pot.
That was 10 years ago. Now John and Betsy need to be near their son who is a doctor in Texas. They both have health issues. Their house has been sold to a doctor and a lawyer who will use it as a summer place. The island is going that way.
Last night Earl died: Earl Granger, the island patriarch about whom I wrote in my last post. He was 90. Donna, his wife, is still with us, but she needs lots of help. Her sister, Irene, lives next door and she is now blind. I used to see Irene and chat with her as she walked her 2 dogs up Granger way. First one dog died, then the other. Irene doesn’t walk these days.
As Jerry and I walk in the evenings with the poodles we see flocks of little birds, gathering for their journey south. The blackberries are ripening. I tried to pick some thimble-berries, but I found it difficult to get much quantity. When they are ripe they fall apart as you touch them.
They were an important food source for the Indians before the European invasion, but Indians must have had thimble-berry picking skills that I lack. I plan to get some blackberries to combine with the salmon-berries I collected earlier in the season. The cilantro has become flowers and coriander seeds.
Peas are finished. This year, for the first time, there are pears on the pear tree given to me by Lawyer Daughter.
There’s a scattering of alder leaves on the lawns and roads. The ferns are huge and the woods are the deep green of late summer.
Tammy’s chickens are still laying their enormous eggs and we often have them for breakfast. Earlier this summer a big old white hen began to lay little eggs and her eggs got smaller and smaller over the summer. Then she stopped laying altogether. Tammy says that’s chicken menopause. I save carrot tops and pea pods for Tammy’s menagerie. She says the guinea pig gets first choice, then the rabbits.
The chickens in my new header are Tammy’s. As the days get shorter they’ll slow production and we will have to wait for spring to get fresh island eggs.
Friends of Russ and Cathy are staying in our rental and on Friday the 6 of us plan to grill a sockeye salmon on our deck. Russ and Cathy got one from the reef netters out in Legoe Bay. This years’ catch was poor. Last year’s was huge. I’ll add carrots and cucumbers from my garden — and perhaps beans and zucchini if they are ready.
Seasons change, generations change, there’s a regular ebb and flow in life, sometimes calm and regular, sometimes sudden and scary. But it’s always fascinating to watch, even within the limited landscape of a tiny island.