The waterfront takes care of itself, but I’d sure like to be there | TIDAL LIFE


Ah, summer on the shore. Sunbathing, waterskiing, kayaking, clam digging, picnics on the beach.

The idea of living that idyllic life was one of the major reasons we stretched ourselves to the breaking point to buy waterfront property many moons ago. (Another big one was fear of being landlocked, but that’s another story.)

Now that Colton Harris-Moore is in Florida I can mention that this summer hasn’t followed the intended pattern.

Instead of lazing on the dock paddling my feet in cool water, I’m writing this from my Mom’s mainland backyard. She’s got a lovely garden, but the only wet stuff is shooting out of sprinkler heads. In a little while, I’ll be heading back out front to continue weeding her south-facing, gravel-paved, RV parking area — otherwise known as the ninth circle of hell. I probably won’t make it home before the sun is gone from my own garden.

Taking a break, I made the mistake of picking up Mom’s copy of Martha Stewart, who exhorted me to simplify my summer by dipping all my baskets in white paint, and printing tic-tac-toe and checkerboards on matching placemats to take to the beach.

Why do I even open that magazine when I know everything in its pages will make my head explode? This summer though, it’s more than the stupid crafts invented to make me feel like I’ve failed at “Living.”

I’m feeling a little sorry for myself because I’ve enjoyed exactly one full day at home on the waterfront in the past month, and that I spent mowing the lawn, bringing gifts to the friend who’d been watching the house and scratching the ears of my lonely cat. No baskets are getting dipped this year, I’m afraid. So sad.

This has been the summer of other people’s houses. Tom and I helped one daughter remodel her kitchen. The other daughter got married in Montana. Mom needs help with home maintenance.

Though I’ve travelled away from the Sound this season, I have seen a lot of other bodies of water.

Heading to Portland on Amtrak, I watched the Columbia and Willamette rivers slide by.

We went to Seaside for a birthday party and played in the surf.

The route to Montana started with a drive east along the Columbia through Hood River and The Dalles, past numerous dams and spillways.

Our room in Montana overlooked Flathead Lake. For the wedding itself, we hiked through a pine forest beside a creek to the shore of a beautiful mountain lake.

The reception was held on the deck of a lakefront restaurant in idyllic Woods Bay, where we ate oysters brought from Gray’s Harbor as a wedding present.

Even with all that contact with water, when we drove down the hill in Mukilteo and aboard the Cathlamet I felt a huge relief and thought, “It’s been way too long since I was on a ferry.” The time at home was exactly what I needed to keep me going to this latest mainland project.

Though the vegetables I should be harvesting now are still locked inside seed packets, our place is getting along all right with drive-by maintenance. I cut back one rampant blackberry yesterday, I’ll get one more tomorrow. But Mom’s parking area is the big problem of the moment. It needs a concentrated day of attention. It used to be parked on regularly, but now traffic no longer keeps the weeds down. Something must be done, and we’ve sunk into one of those life quandaries that Martha avoids like the plague.

Spray weed killer? Noooo! Burn the weeds off? And then what? Dig out the rock, put down black plastic and put the rock back? Ugghh. Remove the rock and plant lawn and a garden? Expensive. None of the solutions seem to fit with Mom’s resources and my environmental concerns.

Too bad Martha’s magazine doesn’t recommend stylish and simple fixes for weed-infested gravel drives. Maybe if we dipped the rocks in white paint …

As the sun beats down on me and my knees begin to ache and the woe-is-me’s worm their way into my thinking, there is one bit of advice I’m tempted to take her up on. For my heart’s health she recommends

I drink three glasses of red wine each day.

That would certainly make my summer simpler — I’d sleep through it.

For more information: The connection between the land and the sea: This next couple of months is critical to the effort to save Trillium Woods. On July 25, tour the woods with island forest expert Elliott Menasche and learn about the importance of healthy forests in the ecosystem and how to best care for your own island forest. Support the Whidbey Camano Land Trust effort, click here.

For more info go to my Tidal Life Blog.

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