Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On Leaving a Place We Love

Sunset with Blake Island and the Olympic MountainsAfter four and a half years of living on Vashon Island, we have disembarked.

Once we found ourselves in a position to buy a house, it no longer made sense to live so far from work. We bought a nice place with lots of light, lots of room, and a great yard that we will remake into gardens over the coming year.

Departing was both exciting and terribly sad. We both loved many things about living on Vashon. It's very inaccessibility meant that it was less developed, more wild. The bird life there was fantastic—we encountered many species of birds that neither of us had experienced before after decades of living in the Seattle area. I used to love watching the Spotted Towhees, Black-Eyed Juncos, Varied Thrushes, Banded Doves, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-Banded Flickers, Steller's Jays, Cedar Waxwings, and a wide assortment of wrens, finches, swallows, and song sparrows. Bald Eagles were a common site along the bluff across the road from our house, soaring on the thermals and emitting their ethereal cries.

So far, we've seen Flickers, Hummingbirds, Finches, and Wrens at the new house, as well as the ubiquitous urban residents American Robins, European Starlings, and Crows. Because there are mature trees and large shrubs, we are hopeful of attracting more species. Once we start work on the gardens, we will, as before, take creation of attractive habitat into consideration when designing and selecting plants.

One of the great things about living in a small community (or, it could be a not great thing if you feel differently about people) was having so many folks know us by name, at the grocery store, the coffee roasterie, the nurseries, the farmers' market. We were always running into people we know when running errands. Now we live in a densely populated suburban area, which is oddly impersonal. It's possible that places I frequent will come to know me, but I think the feeling of being part of a community will be more elusive.

The hardest part of leaving was moving away from the reasons we moved there in the first place: our friends and our godson. More effort will need to be made to stay in touch, and we will simply not be seeing them as often as before. In the end, having an extra 3+ hours a day not spent commuting in heavy traffic diminishes the sorrow of this, but it was the hardest part of our decision.

Now we're in a house of our own, where we hope to stay for many years, and we will make it as welcoming and warm as we know how. We will make return visits to Vashon, to see friends, say hello to people we know, buy eggs from our favorite farm.

Our godson, when told we were moving off the island, declared emphatically: "We go to Seattle all the time. It is not going to be a problem."

Kids are so smart.