Friday, September 23, 2016

Great Things Ahead: Spring, Love and Travel

My trip to Mexico that I detailed in the two earlier posts was wonderful, but with Marijke on my mind I was excited to return home to Shaw, to her and to progress on the farm and the cabin.  This posts covers a pretty decent chunk of time, about mid-January until late March.  In order to try and spend more time on the next post, a 4,000 mile road trip from Shaw Island to LA and back, I'm going to be fairly brief with the descriptions and stories here, but I imagine the photos say most of it anyways. Enjoy!

After my flight from Mexico landed back in Seattle I took a short rest, got cleaned up and got to visit with some of my good friends: Brendan, Sazzy and Dan.

Returning to Shaw on a cool, grey day.  Taking the ferry off the mainland and back to the islands always makes for a relaxing transition and to me serves as a reminder that life out here really is different.

As I returned to my cabin, Marijke was waiting for me and although it had only been a few weeks, it was great to see her again.  Before I left for Mexico I joked I was going to bring her back a sombrero and some sand, and I'm a man of my word!

The very next day it was beautiful out and we went for a walk at the preserve.  Ever since I've lived here I have really enjoyed these two dead firs on the shoreline, so I was surprised to find one had broken and fallen over while I was away!  

While we were walking at the preserve my fire pager went off, reporting a smell of smoke at the school. I rushed to get my gear and show up.  There was the obvious smell of hot electronics, and a haze in the air.  We used the infrared viewer to look for hot spots, examining every inch of the building and found an outlet that was hot where a space heater was plugged in, but there was no fire or any other danger. 

Back on the farm the garden had a few left over pants still in the ground, but as it was still January, there wasn't really anything going on there just yet.

A camp fire with friends.

In the wet fall and winter there are always tons of interesting fungus around, I noticed this stuff on a small fir branch on the ground and thought it looked pretty cool.

In the cabin and working on the kitchen counter.

The ditches in the garden are doing their job diverting water.  By keeping water flowing out of the garden, the soil stays healthier and it will be dry sooner, allowing for earlier planting.

Lunch at the monastery with Marijke, Father Vincent and the other interns.  An unusual occasion where I got dressed up!

Marijke and I decided to actually do something off Shaw, so we took the ferry to Friday  Harbor for dinner and a movie.

Looking at the Orcas landing and Shaw landing in the distance as I wait for work to begin on a cloudy winter day.

Making good progress in the cabin, here I'm showing off fact I finally have indoor water!  Given the last tiny cabin I lived in and the fact I was traveling across Africa before that, this marked the first time in about 4 years I'd lived with running water!

My boss climbing in a madrona on a beautiful day.

Sunrise on my morning ferry commute.

And a little bit of work on the other side.  This job was removing some rather large alders for a guy, but instead of being paid, my boss was doing the work in exchange for a sailboat!  (32" bar on that saw for a size reference)

While stacking firewood in someones woodshed I came across this bat.  I moved it out of the way and to safety, but it seemed injured and I'm not sure it was going to make it...

Nick, Ellen and Angus, dinner guests in the cabin.

Things are coming along and the space is very comfortable. Sure it's small, but for now it works great for just me and I'm happy to be warm, dry and and living in a wonderful place.

Marijke came over to hang out and surprised me with a cake the made with a chainsaw on it out of chocolate chips, haha.

Building and getting the first coat of finish on the landing.  This was a lot of fun because the pine on the landing was lumber that came from a neighbor and were originally covered in moss and  half rotten.  Being able to transform something like that into something inside a cabin is a pretty satisfying process.

A look inside the just completed fire station.  This building is at the community center, right next to the original building and gives us space to park three more trucks inside, consolidating our equipment and making it easier to access when we need to respond to a fire.

A while back I was cutting trees along what was going to be a new fence line at the monastery and came across this hawthorn that needed to be removed.  The stump cut was really cool looking so I took a piece home with me, put a coat of finish on it and mounted it on the wall as art.

Looking down as we cut and lower branches from a seriously rotten old-growth dug fir that was threatening a house.

It's getting towards March at this point and that means plant seeds and starts will be going in the ground soon, so that means prepping beds from their winter rest.  This is the upper garden where the garlic was last season, this year it will be the early season crops as it gets the most sun and is the driest soil.

Rainier the new rooster.

Kristina, one of Marijkes friends lives on Lopez and invited us over for dinner and dancing.  Here we are meeting the goats on the property where she lives.

On the Lopez beach with Shaw in the background.

The event we were going to was the regular contra dance, something I'd never done before.  Some people were quite good while others were beginners like us, but it was fairly easy to pick up and actually a lot of 'old timey' fun.

It's early spring and animals are being born.  Here Marijke is holding a one day old lamb she helped deliver.

The contents of a typical mainland run: Lumber, tools, gas, groceries and beer.

So I got new work boots and it's always fun to compare the old to the new. I'd say I got my monies worth out of that last pair...

The pond on the farm. The grass and firs are green, but the maples and alders have not yet leafed out.

I pair of salamanders I found while cleaning up some rotten wood.

Dinner in the cabin.

Island Sinfonia, a group of musicians from across the islands came to Shaw for a performance.

The first of March and there are plenty of plant starts in the warm kitchen, getting ready to be moved out into the garden shortly.

Dinner with friends.

An exciting moment, the first seeds in the ground for the season, in this case, peas.

Marijke invited Ellen and Nick to the monastery to give them a tour, including bottle feeding the new cow.

Looking over Squaw Bay and towards Lopez from the meadow.

I had yet to take Marijke up a tree and today was the day to finally make it happen.

Of course she had never done this kind of thing before, but I explained the process, guided her up and she did a wonderful job.

Success! At the very top of the tree, 130 feet up.

Dinner at the community center to thank the island first responders, the Shaw fire and medical teams.

Tis the season of burn piles. If I remember correctly, this was mostly rotten wood from around the pond.

Getting some art on the walls of the cabin. I'm a big fan of the wood and rusty metal vibe.

Looking down at the top I just took on a tree removal at work. I sure do enjoy my work, ha.

A performance at the Shaw talent show, featuring Sister Maria and JP & the OK Rhythm Boys.

Boomer hanging out while we weed the garlic.

Laying down cardboard and wood chips to improve the main path in the garden.

Playing dress up in my fire gear.  I think she may need a smaller size...

It's now mid-March and the maples are starting to leaf out.  This is one of my favorite times of the year because the tender leaves and the sunlight shining through is the most beautiful color in the world to me.

So being from the Netherlands, Marijke has been here on Shaw under a 1 year tourist visa and by this point that year is coming to a close.  She originally intended to return home for good after that year period, but, well, she met me.

That said, she still had to return to the Netherlands for visa reasons before she could return to the States on a new tourist visa.  When she originally came out here she bought a return ticket out of LA with the idea that she would do a road trip from Shaw to LA as a way to end her time in America.  I thought it was silly for her to do such a journey alone and offered to drive her all the way to LA, showing her the sights along the way.  So I put the bed in my van, packed up the camp kitchen and bins of food and planned a rough route for the two of us to drive all the way to LA together.

The next post will be of that trip, 3,000 miles from Shaw Island to Los Angles of two lane roads and national parks, camping in the woods and introducing her to the spectacular scenery and huge spaces of the American West.  Stay tuned.