Guest blog from the other caretaker

Guest Blogger—WHY WE’RE CARETAKERS

We have now volunteered on five islands for a total of more than two years. Each has been an adventure, sometimes hard work, and endless fun. A new island is on the horizon.
What makes island caretaking so fulfilling? Partly, it’s living in the moment. We sometimes slip out of the present and into the future but it’s a limited time frame since none of our stays has been longer than four months. Mostly, we live day-to-day, focusing on the task at hand, listening to the wind and birds, or marveling at the 360-degree beauty. There are very few outside distractions.
We enjoy greeting visitors and making new friends. Indeed, welcoming those who arrive by boat is one of our most important tasks. But, we enjoy nothing more than the solitude, peace, and meditation of having the islands to ourselves.
Four of “our” islands have lighthouses which guarantee world-class views. The fifth, the one without a lighthouse, was no exception, situated offshore between the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
We are always keyed into weather and listen to the forecast on our VHF radio or download it with our limited internet. Fog (sometimes triggering the fog horn), strong winds (blowing down trees and branches), downpours (creating sand slides), and sunny forecasts become an obsession. As I sit writing this, we await a gale gusting to 60 mph with rain, hail, and thunderstorms over four days. We once weathered a storm lasting more than a week with constant 70 mph winds, gusting to 90. Bad things on land are always worse at sea, however, and, as sailors ourselves, many are the nights we’ve been gratefully tucked into our comfortable caretaker houses.
Caretaking isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t want to do it by myself and Lynne is the perfect companion. We find joy in each other’s company, day after day. R-E-S-P-E-C-T is the key and we try to reach a consensus on most decisions.
Lynne possesses endless reserves of joie de vivre. Her incredibly eclectic choices in reading reflect her approach to life. She enjoys everything from Marcus Aurelius to Isabel Allende, often focusing on books about the area where we are staying. Similarly, she undertakes endless and varied projects and her skills range from imaginative cooking to weaving to wielding a chain saw. In short, Lynne is the best caretaking companion I can imagine. She never gets bored.
We learned the following dictum from some fellow caretakers. Every day we try to accomplish three things: do something for the island, engage in creativity, and exercise. There is always something to do for the island: mowing, clearing trails, small engine maintenance, building simple furniture, hosing off seagull poo, painting, and on and on. I have no problem with the second because I practice two or more hours a day on my electronic keyboard. Number one often takes care of number three but on those days when I can’t kill two birds with one stone, there is always hiking, swimming, or jogging.
We share our islands with more permanent residents. In Alaska, we marvel at whales swimming sixty feet offshore. In Tasmania, wallabies hop all around us, penguins cry and whistle half the night, and dolphins dance in the coves. In Washington, we spy on napping seals and watch forty bald eagles watching us. And, in Maine, we listen to lobster boats grumbling through the thick fog.
We’ve been doing this off and on for ten years and I’d like nothing better than to do it for ten more. That said, we’re looking forward to coming home.

Happy tools

You cannot tell me this tractor from Czechoslovakia is not smiling. It should be sad because it may be leaving the island soon.

Tim thinks this laundry pole is meant to look like a wallaby.

And look at this chess set. Someone with time on their hands carved the entire set. Up until we found this, I thought the handmade cribbage board (Tim is killing me there too) was ingenious. But look at these pieces. Each one is hand carved, the bishop has his face shield carved. And the knights are Cape Barren Geese. Might as well have a smile while you work. The queen has a flower nailed to her head and the king has a star and a screw. So clever.

Walking the walks

fullsizeoutput_f59My new favorite walk is up to the lighthouse and then back along the Old Squally trail. Old Squally crosses another hill and offers beautiful views of the compound. There is a large cobble on the top of the hill from old Squally and I hung out with another grey fantail for a while.

DSC00543

The kayakers made a successful crossing to an island near Flinders. In their stead, four boats arrived in East Cove. A family of three generations hiked up the lighthouse with two kids, ages 7 and 5, on bikes. They made it to the lighthouse, the World War II plane wreck AND Squally Cove. What troopers.

Weather has turned nice again, partly sunny and in the 60’s.

This video of dolphins was taken. on another sunny day in Garden Cove. They played near shore for quite a while. For those of you of my generation, they even did a “Flipper” move and skidded along the surface.