Monday, February 9, 2009

Question for clarity when making decisions … ASK

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We took a day-trip north this past Saturday, and found unexpected treasure. I wrote about our plan to visit with our lovely young friends from O`ahu. The plan unfolded in divine fashion, that is not as we thought it would rather the way it was destined to happen. Let me tell you what I mean. Whidbey Island is a very large island in the middle of north Puget Sound. If my memory still serves I believe it is the largest island in ... the world? the hemisphere? It's a long boot shaped sort of island that is accessible by ferry from Mukilteo (just north of Seattle), by bridge over beautiful Deception Pass at the top end of the island, or via the Port Townsend-Keystone ferry at the waist of the island. Our friends are visiting family in Oak Harbor and we were soft-scheduled to meet them around noon. That schedule morphed because life had a plan of its own, and rather than noon we met our friends closer to five that afternoon. And we had a most incredibly wonderful time with them.

When "B" called me to say life had a plan of its own, she meant twin babies were their immediate focus. The tiny babies are an important reason for the trip across the Pacific. Our young friends were on Whidbey Island to help care for these two premie babie and their mama on the airplane ride back to O`ahu. I said, "No worry...we'll go visit these other friends on Guemes Island, and hook-up on our way back down." Our Saturday adventure was two-purposed ... we have old friends to visit with and friends we'd not yet met on Guemes Island. I know, I know, the tale winds. Sip your tea and stay with me, or bookmark it post and come back later... Pete and I have long envisioned collaborating with people who are interested in building Intentional Community. Like treasure hunters, we have explored the I.C. Network website for years looking for clues to a place and a community that would love and support values that complement ours. In our life together (fifteen years) Pete and I have research and explored dozens of places both as separate havens for ourselves only, or as a community sharing space and work with others. Our venture to Guemes was our latest exploration into intentional community.

To fully appreciate this leg of the treasure hunt it's important to set the climatic scene. At eight-thirty when we left the Kitchenette in White Center, the fog and moisture levels were thick. Ka La (the sun) hid behind dense gray. Our route north toward Anacortes and Whidbey Island was a slow nearly two hour drive. By the time we stopped for a pee and stretch break just before the Stillaguamish River near Stanwood, blue sky and fresh, fresh air fills our senses. It was divine.
Our trek north took us on secondary roads rather than the Interstate/Freeway. We were experimenting with trail routes that could accomodate VARDOFORTWO at speeds less intense. Pete had mapped those routes and with the country settings north of Everett, we ambled along side the freeway on old Hiway 99 and Pioneer Hiway until we were on Fir Island and the crossing roads into LaConner. This was all new ground, a new way to get to the county (Skagit) so familiar.

Checking in with "B" at the rest stop shifted our attention. I knew there was that old goal-setter me muttering and stumbling on the plans ... I felt the old pattern rising like well-worn ruts in an old gravel road. Pete appeared to simply drive on. We spent time in La Conner, munched on sweet treats from a favorite bakery and watched kayakers race about in the Slough. After hot tea and sweets we still had time to browse one of our favorite thrift shops. Somehow the fragrances and scents from the clothes were more tolerable that day ... i smelled them, went without a mask and yet the smells did not sicken me. What was that about? Small and real improvement is one answer. Choosing to believe that it is possible to be in recovery from environmental illness, another answer.

Shortly after noon we were at the tiny ferry waiting room in Anacortes. The small county ferry crosses the short distance between Anacortes and Guemes every half hour or is it every hour in the winter. Unlike the big state ferries, this one holds three short lanes of vehicles and is the foot traffic connection for many Guemes residents everyday. We were on foot, with jackets, my walking stick and a small cooler with food and a dozen organic eggs for our new-to-be-met friends who homestead on Guemes ... we proceeded with our treasure hunt.

Two people who have been together for many years, and in close quarters day and night, can still be on different wave-lengths. I left the fear in me creep in as Pete headed right after we left the ferry. "I think it's up the hill," I said. "No, the map looked like we walked along the beach," Pete said. His conviction was mild, I listened for the alpha-leader voice. It wasn't there. I let it be. The day as I said was beautiful by now. The skies were clear, the air was cleaner than most breathes we take in White Center. We were supposed to find Madrona Center and a separate homestead where our new internet friends lived year round. Within minutes blue smoke from a fire, a big fire rose into the sky. The AVOID AND RUN sensors turned on. "THAT way?!!" I think I said that as Pete continued. With my scarf I was able to mask most of the smoke, keeping to the beach edge of the trail. "I can do this, I am magnificent," I repeated affirming beliefs as we continued to search. The smoke rose with very little breeze to blow it out or in a definite direction.

We walked that road at least three times, and climbed a sloping hill looking for Madrona Center and the homestead getting more exercise and outside air than we'd had in months. After perhaps an hour we found the center at the top of the sloping hill. We found the beautiful stone circle with granite entrance stones and the tilled and electric fenced 2 acres of plantable garden space we'd read about. A cellphone call to connect with our Guemes friends went unanswered. Instead we took to that beach road with the now amber-glowing (still smoking) fire and found the road on which the homestead is probably sitting right this minute. By this time, the chill of afternoon had brought more wood burning in fireplaces or inside burners, my scarf was inadequate and my sensory bells within knew it was time to turn around. Over head the jets that take off and land from the near-by base on Whidbey Island had shaken the peace out of us and reminded us that those jets are part of this landscape. Along with the oil refineries that churn out thick plumes while turning crude into fuel for cars and trucks, these treasure hunters had gathered a parcel of very valuable clues.

Within an hour of sunset we walked the length of beach road asphalt once again, sat to wait for the ferry on the drift wood giants and munched the last of the barley shortbread and turkey sausages. The sun was still pleasant, welcomed because the air was turning cooler. Treasure hunters need to rest and reconnoiter. Pete sifted through the small flat stones of all colors and delighted in his finds. I smiled at him and inwardly smiled at me ... I had just walked miles with my tentative knees and the support from my loyal stick.

The day was not yet over, we had yet to meet our young friends. They were having trouble finding their way to us. It took them a while, and then there they were. "We're at the bowling alley," we told them to look for the big bowling pin on Commercial Avenue in Anacortes. We thought it would be an easy landmark. Just after sunset we four come together in the parking lot of the bowling alley. Hugs and cooing sounds made the reunion such a satisfying experience. HUGS AND COOING SOUNDS: that is a treasure I have been without for too long. The fear of stinky hugs has been a limiting and confining belief ... truth or fiction? ... what mattered is that I was GIVING and GETTING them at sunset on a Saturday.

We ended that Saturday treasure hunt playing a full game of bowling without any chemically offending scents or smells. The bowling shoes are too cute ... slippery and a little tight on my wide Hawaiian feet ... but, oh well...still, a miracle. In the company of precious young people who had the effort to be with us scent free and filled with joy, Pete bowled an incredibly hot game, I BOWLED period, and we spent time with friends who love and support us. We set up asking for a day to be part of the solution. Our decisions were changeable, our choices turned up-side down. The miracle of the bowling alley? Simply magnificent.

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