Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Faerie Wood- Part I

Three generations of women snuggled into the beautiful waterfront cottage at Alderbrook Resort. We spent 0ur first afternoon and evening watching the wildlife play in the waters of Hood Canal, working on a puzzle and telling stories.  
The stories flowed from Sister 
and I reminiscing about our childhood antics, to the childhood of my 89-year old grandmother. That was a much different childhood, one focused on trying not to upset the adults, who were a highly unstable pair. We did get quiet long enough to recognize the setting sun; the blue, purple, orange and pink glows were cast across the sky and reflected in the smooth, glassy water.

Our gaggle moved to the living room as our fireplace warmed up and more stories were told while freshly baked M&M cookies were happily eaten. My mother, the oldest of her siblings, had a childhood stunted by the need to help grandma care for the other 8 children as they came along. Especially when my grandfather, who served in three of our armed forces, was sent away on assignments. As our cottage darkened to match the sky outside all I could see clearly was grandma’s white hair and the fire reflecting off of her and mother’s eyeglasses. They told the story of how grandma “squeezed all the other kids together”, so that my mom could have her own room at the age of 17 and have some semblance of peace and privacy.  “She even got me my own radio”, my mom says quietly and with a slight smile. It was such a sweet moment in our storytelling. Followed by a debate about whether my mom actually requested suitcases for her graduation or whether it was my grandparents' not-too-subtle hint that after high school graduation one was to move along.
Near 11pm we snapped out of a 6-hour spell. A peak outside revealed that the bright, nearly full moon and the power of our stories had pushed the water 30 yards from our cottage; clear to the end of the neighboring docks. I imagined our stories and memories washed up on someone else’s shores. After the ‘grown-ups’ went to sleep, Sister and I spent another hour or two upstairs telling and re-telling our own stories, giggling until I had to get tissues. We listened to the strange night sounds from the exposed beach and whispered furtively about what sort of creatures were out there. The entire evening felt magical.
I woke to the sound of solid, steady rain. The last flannel clad storyteller to stagger to the breakfast table, as I have been my entire life, I confirmed that I had heard rolling thunder in the wee hours. Magical and rare in the Pacific Northwest. Our temperate rainforest was holding true to form and the sheet of gray rain and mist covered any view of the land and mountains across the water. It now appeared as though the water stretched on forever. The tide had moved back and someone else’s stories and memories were now splashing against our deck. We talked slower and more thoughtfully now, about our web of current friends and family. As we completed our “Magical Fairies” puzzle, we planned for the family reunion that my mother and grandmother will host next summer. It seems that nighttime by the fire is when memories are told and a rainy morning at the puzzle is for staying in the present and planning for the future.

Mother opted to skip on the day’s outing and stay in with grandma.  Sister and I talked over each other, as we are known to do, so that neither of us could fully finish a sentence before the other began. In this chaotic fashion, we discussed several options for our outing. The “Staircase” hike near Lake Cushman in Olympic National Park, the less than 2-mile web of trails just across the street, scouting out restaurants for lunch the next day, just driving around and ‘checking out’ the nearby towns if the rain was too much to hike in. With all of these possibilities misting up the air inside the cabin, we grabbed two raincoats, two water bottles, two M&M cookies and one small map of the trails across the street, and the “two girls” headed out for our adventure.  I turned to grandma and said, “I think we’ll be gone a couple of hours or so!”  And mother, who was just setting down plates of leftover chicken enchiladas for herself and grandma’s second breakfast, said merrily, “Oh, take your time! Have fun! We won’t worry!”  

And with that blessing, and the rain pouring down, we headed off on what was to be a grand adventure, Christopher Robin and Pooh style!  Little did we know that the many small events and circumstances of our afternoon would ripple across the water of the canal and back to the quiet cottage. But then, little did we know how disruptive faeries can be…..

 Check back for Part II…The rainforest, angry mountain goats and the river runs through it.

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