One of my favorite things to do is walk around our little seaside village with my daughter. Our town is full of beauty. While we may be regulars on our familiar sidewalks, we rarely venture far from the beaten path. A few weeks ago we decided to walk from the UW Medical Center back to our office in town, and I was shocked at how much there was to see! There is trail and I am sure many people walk this route daily, but it was new to us and we were not disappointed by the abundance of art around every corner!
Our first stop was the Orcas Center where we were met with lovely Buddhas and a giant Orca. Even though we “see” them all of the time, this was the first time we actually walked up and observed. The pieces of work inside of the Orcas Center are constantly rotating. We are so thankful to be able to have access to such an amazing place of music, theatre, culture, and art.
We soon moved on to find even more statues at the St. Francis Catholic Church! I hate to say that I did not get a picture of their beautiful stained glass window on the other side of the building, but we were more focused on statues at this point in the walk. We both very much liked the little bare foot girl.
Once on North Beach Road we came to the Salmonberry School. Their fence is lined with years of student art and I just love it! I am particularly fond of their Imagine painting, as I may have a slight obsession with The Beatles.
Just past Salmonberry School is Orcas Island Children’s House. The wee babe is friends with most of the kids, as she attends their Preschool, and it was at this time that our leisurely pace took a turn because she immediately ran off to find friends. We were honestly surprised to find their playground full of happy children, as we thought it was Saturday! Nope. It was Friday. Such is island time.
When you live in a tourist town, you get used to visitors, and sometimes relish in the breaks from them. The summer months are always jam packed, and you generally expect things to die down in October. The days will get short, and dark, and hibernation mode sets in. Not this year! We have had sunny days, snow, visitors, holidays, and raging waterfalls. Never a dull moment!
North Beach on a cloudy day
West Beach on a sunny December morning!
Judd Cove Waterfall in January!
We were lucky enough to have nice, sunny weather last a bit longer than normal this year, and we definitely took advantage of it! We went to the beach, had a lovely dinner at Orcasong Farm, and played outside while we could (without puffy coats). Eleanor even learned how to play….I am not a fan of the name…corn hole. Ugh. Can’t it be called something else?!
Sewing on her playset
She loves her Daddy!
OrcaSong Farm is gorgeous!!
In a matter of two weeks we filled our tiny cabin with visitors from Chicago, Texas, and of course Washington. We meandered the property, painted and carved pumpkins, explored, and enjoyed maybe too many Montucky Cold Snacks. We took them out to Camp Orkila (in the wind and the rain) and had a blast at their Fall Festival and Haunted Hay Ride. We totally forgot to wait for the hay ride, but the kids had enough fun, so we got away with it. Plus, it was cold!
Our favorite people on West Sound
This kid loves the old tractors!!
Cuddle puddle 🙂
Besties making art <3
He’s a tree guy 🙂
Setting up the sail!
Pictures from the Fall Festival (minus the Haunted Hay Ride)…
Horse sitting, not riding 🙂
We carved pumpkins after the kid went to bed 🙂
This pumpkin turned in to a month long project!
After! Delicious cider!!
We were also lucky to house the Whiskey Shivers from Austin, Texas. The most fun, talented, child-tolerant guys on the planet. If you ever have a chance to see them perform, do it! You will not regret it!! While I (surprisingly) don’t have pictures of it, we BBQ’d around the fire pit, wandered bare foot through the field, and managed to NOT drive in to town for Karaoke 🙂
On the set of Pitch Perfect 3!
Now I’m cool too 🙂
Eleanor took at least 100 photos of James 🙂
It was a wonderful reunion of some of our favorite people that we just do not see enough of. We are always happy to host, guys!
Then…Halloween! My husband and I have always LOVED Halloween. We have crates and crates of costumes, and it seems that our daughter has inherited the gene. This year we let her pick out our “theme” and she chose Trolls! She was Princess Poppy (of course), and we were Bergens. She even talked Nana and Grandpa in to playing along!
Poppy, Bridge, and King Gristle
At the Madrona post trick or treating
After all of the extended sunshine, visitors, and family dress-up came the SNOW! Yes. Snow. In November. On Orcas. It was awesome! Eleanor learned about snowballs (and got me right in the eye), and learned you can eat snow. Only white snow, of course. It did not last long, and we are still eagerly awaiting its return. For an island that “rarely gets snow,” two years in a row is pretty amazing!!
Love waking up to SNOW!
First snowball fight!
Snow Baby <3
We then had a whirlwind with Thanksgiving off-island, Willy Wonka at the Orcas Center, a dance recital (the littles were Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), more off-island trips, more visitors….phew! Busy times.
Cutest reindeers ever!
Willy Wonka at the Orcas Center!
In all honesty, I was never big on Christmas…then I had a kid. As soon as she was born, it was over. I love the decorations, I love the presents, decorating cookies! Everything is new to her and it is just too much fun to see her light up over it. She wrote letters to Santa, learned Christmas songs, and of course saw Santa.
And Again. (she REALLY likes that dress…)
We topped it off with Christmas with family at West Beach Resort. We ended up without a traditional Christmas Tree, but ended up with probably one of the coolest trees of all time. Eleanor decorated it, and placed the bulbs in very precise locations. I topped it off with a super sweet Barbie from 1989 that I received for my birthday. It was perfect.
Summer on the islands goes too quickly. Though we have been incredibly lucky to have had such a long summer (it is now the end of September and it is still GORGEOUS outside), I am selfishly wanting it to continue. Summer is not my favorite season necessarily, but this summer was particularly wonderful. I’m not sure if it is because my daughter turned three in June and has morphed into this amazing person with plans and jokes and “deals” and true personality, or if it is because I can see that our home is actually being built. One possibility is because we spent more time on Orcas and were able to enjoy the island on a daily basis. Either way, summer is coming to a close, and it is with a smile that we say “see you later.” Before we do though, I would like to share some of the highlights with you!
Queen of Dragons
Red is her favorite
Reading under the Maple Tree
Hammock fun with Dad
I think her pirate name should be Curly!
The beginning of summer for our little family is Eleanor’s birthday, which is in early June. We have a huge party with tons of friends and family. This year we had so many family members come in that we ended up with three “cabins” at Smuggler’s Villa on North Beach. We had octopus cupcakes, buried treasure, swimming pools, pillow towns, and probably 60 or more lovely souls over that day. My husband BBQ’d for all. We spent the long weekend playing at the beach, visiting with friends who live at “the Ditch” and enjoying the fire by the beach. It was a wonderful way to kick off summer, and it reaffirmed our love for the friends we have made on this island.
BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
Stealing her presents
Paint sea stars!
Getting the buried treasure pool ready!
One issue many people have on the island during the summer is adequate water supply. As we live on a family property that includes a large food-producing garden, we are counted in that number. The solution is hauling water. While it may not sound glamorous, it is actually a very fun family event! We gathered fairy dust and sprinkled it around, we built a fort beneath a grove of trees, and we enjoyed splashing around in the water! One man’s chore is another man’s adventure? Is that a saying??
Gathering Fairy Dust
Watering the garden
Snacks in the grass
We spent more time at Cascade Lake this summer than we have the entirety of our time back on Orcas. On Sunday afternoons, we would often pack up around 3:00pm or so after Cory had had his fill of digging around the foundation of our addition. We would bring with us buckets, blankets, babies, food, and drinks all packed in our little red wagon. We would BBQ, build sand castles, see old friends, and make new ones. Cascade Lake was good to us this summer. I hope we can continue to venture out there once the leaves fall. The hike around the lake is beautiful any time of year!
We love the shady playground!
“King Julien”cracks me up every time!!
Making new friends
I learned this summer that my child is spoiled by living in such near proximity to the ocean. I cannot count how many times I tried to get her to go to the beach with me and she was not interested!!! Who doesn’t want to go to the beach at the drop of a hat at all times?! My kid. That’s who. I remember begging every day of summer as a child to go to the lake with my mom. I suppose I have to count all of us as fortunate if “too much beach time” is considered a problem! On our final days of summer, I was so happy to get in a last minute trip to Crescent Beach with Eleanor before dinner. On this day, she was very in to cleaning closed clams. Normally she likes to play in the ever-present driftwood structures, feed the birds by throwing dried seaweed in the air, or hunt for “crabbies.” This evening though, she stood in the water cleaning clams for extended periods of time. Maybe she knew it was one of the last times that her bare feet would be in the ocean for a while.
Deer Harbor Sand Castles
Crescent Beach in Autumn
Thank you Orcas Island for a beautiful season. We welcome fall with smiles.
One of my favorite things about Summer on Orcas is the Farmer’s Market. We spend many of our Saturday’s at the Village Green socializing, eating, and playing. Some days we have beautiful blue skies, and other days we are convinced October came early, but regardless, it is always a good time.
Piggy backs, face paint, and ice cream. Typical Saturday!
Manning the booth in May before our tent was even ready! It was cloudy in the morning, then sunny and warm. Confusing!!
I set out last weekend to get pictures of my top five favorite booths, but then quickly realized that there was no way I could narrow down my choices. I ended up running around chatting with everyone as I helped to man the Children’s House Mayor’s Race booth, as I often do. The result was a dead phone and no where near photos of all of the amazing vendors. I may have to make this a series of posts about our glorious market, which would be just fine by me.
The “Talking Tree” I believe is what the local kids call this amazing tree at the entrance of the Village Green.
First things first. No trip to the Market would be complete without a trip to see Stephie. Our daughter LOVES Stephie. She is the local Face Paint Artist. She can make you a pirate, a panda, or as our daughter regularly requests, an Octopus.
My ferocious tiger 🙂
This kid loves octopuses!
Selfies with the Lum lambs!
The Giant Pacific Octopus – AKA Eleanor
All the cool kids are doing it!
So many options…
Another favorite is Tai Carson of Rogue Soul Designs. She is a midwife-turned-jeweler and all-around great gal. Her jewelry is beautiful and she has a knack for hunting down fantastic fabrics as well. Someone snag up that green jade bracelet before I do!
The beautiful indigo you see behind Tai’s work is by miss Natalie Menacho. She is a peach. She not only makes amazing indigo dyed works such as hand bags, kitchen towels, napkins, and the like, but she also does branding, fine art, illustration and so on. She is a creative gal, and someone worth chatting with. Stop by her booth and say hello!
Another fan favorite in our family is the Lum Farm owned by Eric and Amy Lum. This spring they saved three baby lambs that were more than the mother Ewe could care for, and brought them not only to the Farmer’s Market but to my daughter’s toddler center. They are a wonderful community family, and a delightful addition to the Farmer’s Market.
Feeding baby lambs is such a treat!
Beautiful sheep skins!
Babies love babies 🙂
The lambs love hay…and daisies 🙂
One of the smallest booths at the Market has the most amazing things inside of it. Carla’s Art is all about Orcas. I dare you to step inside and not find something to fall in love with. She has notebooks, maps, cards, mugs, and more! She is a fascinating woman, and I am glad that she is sharing her work with the world.
And last but not least (for this post) is Orcas Island Children’s House. They host the annual Honorary Mayor’s Race for our lovely island, where we shamelessly buy our candidate in to office! We elect local animals to govern the small town of Eastsound, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Children’s House is an island institution that offers a play-based learning center for waddlers, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. If you ever want to meet the sweetest, most generous, loving women in the world stop by the school or our booth this summer! If you would like to vote for Mayor, or support early education for our island kids in general, you can do so here!
Current Mayor Lewis imparting wisdom to current candidates
OK, yes. It is. But…It took forever!! After the longest winter in history (yes, history), we have finally seen some sun break through the massive storms of wind and rain (and snow). Some days required winter jackets even in the sun, and others were tolerable with simple layers. Regardless of attire, I think we are all glad to be done with Winter and moving on with this year!!
Our nice days have been spotty so far, but we have managed to get a lot of time out of the house. When there has been less than a week of sunny days since October (give or take), you get out while you can! We have gone through endless ounces of bubbles, checked every tree for buds, painted rocks for gramma’s garden beds, and even managed a beach day out in Deer Harbor last weekend. We also visited friends off island and played with their baby bunnies!! With Winter behind us, it is so nice to get a glimpse at what the coming months will be like – outside all of the time!!
A Perfect Spring Day
We have begun to plant in our yard. I hesitate to say “we are gardening” because, we really can’t. We are planning on building soon and I would cry if our gardens were ruined by construction. I am happy just to dig and get dirty here and there. We have had fun checking on our daffodils, which are just now finally blooming! Eleanor’s grounded play boat will soon be surrounded by yellow petals! We have transplanted raspberries both in the ground and in pots. And with Earth Day nearing closer, we shall be planting a tree together soon.
I love springtime with a toddler. The tasks may take longer, but that’s ok. Today instead of simply gathering dirt from the compost for raspberries, we hunted for dinosaurs. We found Dino City in the field of tall grass and left T-Rex a butterfly net full of fir cones to munch on. We skate boarded on the porch. We painted. We fell off of swings, cried, and got back up. We enjoyed wagon rides, found apple trees blossoming, made popcorn out of driveway rocks. The imagination (and stamina) of a toddler is to be admired. We also managed to plant the berries.