We are having some wonderful spring days. I spend a little time almost every day in the garden, pulling up dandelions and buttercups (I never think of them as buttercups when I pull them up — I mutter nasty ranunculus between clenched teeth as I gouge them out of my flower beds). I check the lettuce and peas I planted. Lettuce is up, peas not yet. There is promise of blossom everywhere. Hyacinths, periwinkle and daffodils already out.
And fruit blossoms. Perhaps this year I’ll have a pear or two on the tree my lawyer daughter gave me for my birthday a few years ago. Lovely things to anticipate. Tulips and roses are coming soon.
My British daughter is visiting soon. I visualize us buying splendid oysters at Barlene’s and feasting on them together. Perhaps she will help me a little in the garden after she chides me for its disorder.
Jerry and I have bought a condo! Out main home will still be on the island, but we will spend some time in the condo when we have appointments in town. We haven’t closed on it yet, but in less than a month I will be figuring out what furniture we can take from here and what I will have to buy. Then Jerry and I will have a tiny new home in town. Bellingham is a minor city (80 thousand people), but still there’s more over there than there is over here on the island. There are restaurants, movies, music, an occasional play.
The condo is in my old neighborhood, next to the park where I used to walk for hours with my late small white dog, Zute. It’s a big lovely park with a creek, a waterfall and a fish hatchery. I’ll show it to Jerry and the poodles.
I will hang a small show of my recent paintings and less recent etchings and relief prints at the wine gallery up the street; the opening is Friday evening, April Fool’s Day. Perhaps I’ll sell a painting or one of my old prints.
And then there’s the ferry, and there’s the rub. I have written about the ferry from time to time in the past. It’s a five minute run from the island to mainland but it’s our lifeline to the world of doctors and groceries. Some island dwellers actually work or go to school over there. The mainland dock is on the Lummi Indian Reservation. The Indians say they don’t want islanders driving through their reservation. They have threatened to blockade the ferry three times in the last 15 months. The next threatened blockade date is April 10.
There have been meetings and negotiations, deliberations in the Whatcom County Council and letters to Senators, Representatives and lawyers. There have been news reports and petitions and angry comments on line. There is an undercurrent of racism on both sides. Island gossip says death threats were made by islanders against those on the island who are trying to resolve the situation and against leaders on the Indian side. People are getting nervous.
Suddenly an invitation was issued by the Lummi tribal leaders to islanders to come to a dinner on the reservation. They want to explain their reasons for what they are doing. In the past they have said that islanders are killing their children with reckless driving. There is actually no truth to this. In the past 20 years only one Indian has died as a result of an auto accident involving an island driver: the man was drunk and lurched in front of the car. The driver was not charged.
There is a lot of hoopla about this dinner. We have been told not to bring food. It is not a pot luck. That would violate the Indian tradition of hospitality. There will be lots of fish and other food. Then an islander who works on the reservation asked her employers whether we might bring pies. She was told that pie would be “very nice.” I was asked bring one, but, sadly, I don’t do pie.
Islanders will be allowed to ask questions at this dinner if they write them out on a card at the door. Otherwise it looks as if we will not be permitted to speak.
In the meantime, there have been reports in the newspapers of all day negotiations between the Lummis and the County Council. “Progress” has been announced — no details. Monday morning there will be more negotiations. Perhaps by the Monday evening dinner a “settlement” will have been reached and presented to us by the Lummis.
A number of my friends who have been active in the ferry dispute on this side are not planning to attend the dinner. It is said that we will not be permitted to speak. It is rumored that the only Lummis who will be present will be the negotiating committee members and their lawyers. What’s the point of going, my friends say, if only to be lectured to?
I think there will be people present to cook and serve the dinner, and I am guessing that there will be conversation of some sort. I have not been in any building inside the reservation except the gym, and I am curious. I want to see for myself how everybody behaves. There are a lot of strong feelings. I think the event might warrant a blog post.
I suppose the Lummi leaders have planned this as a public relations event. As has happened in the past at meetings of this kind, I expect that some sort of “settlement in principle” will be announced. Everybody heaves a sigh of relief and goes home. Of course, we will be told, there are details to be worked out.
Then, over time, the “settlement” unravels because of disputes over details and misunderstandings over what was settled. Another deadline will be set. And so it goes. I bet this will not be the end of the affair. But I bet the Ferry will keep on chugging across Hale Passage.
I’ll keep you posted.
Two Notes off the Subject:
1. Bumper sticker seen at the ferry landing: “If teaching evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.”
2. Congratulations to my Canadian friends on their sane way of conducting elections: announce them 6 weeks in advance. And good luck in getting rid of Harper.