At home on the island, our project of late has been remodeling the master bath. For what has seemed like weeks, the door’s been off and there have been neither mirrors nor lights. The bath’s tile floor has been scattered with cabinet doors and baseboards, tub filled with discarded insulation, countertops laden with a jigsaw, fine tool drill, chiscels, screwdrivers and hammers.
I usually take my toothbrush from a drawer and a towel off the hook and go visit the guest bath, rather than risk my neck.
It didn’t have to be like this.
“I had a farm in Africa,” wrote Isak Dinesen. Well I nearly had a house that reminded me of her farm “at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”
This is the home I loved on San Juan Island. Situated in an interior valley with a white horse fence surrounding 6+ acres with a pond, bordered by over 500 acres of conservation land and a forever view. All light and sky and immense width and depth of landscape, looking off to snowcapped Olympics and The Strait of Haro, a glint of sea in the distance.
To me it was an Out of Africa moment every time I returned to visit this home. But to my husband it was just that little glint of sea.
The house was perfect. I could have moved in and put everything away, and within days been at work revising my book. Planning gardens, planting fruit trees, setting up a bocce court, horseshoes, a badminton net, who knows where it would have gone?
Instead we are in our seventh month of a remodel in a-home-that-needed-nearly-everything on Westcott Bay. I don’t know what it says about us that given a choice between a newer, lovely home in pristine condition and remodeling, we chose remodeling.
But I do know we did it for the chance to live on the water.
Yes, I might have been immensely happy in the other house with all the south facing light and vistas, but Paul would not have been. Where’d he go? I would wonder. And then I would know, down to the marina…
And in time it would have caught up with me too, the desire to live by the sea.
I know this every morning as I wake with flashing waters on the bay. Waterfowl at work or play, both resident and migratory, and what the old growth forest means to me. I’d be lost without the trees. Birds and trees, they have become me.
All that matters is being able to say, like Isak Dinesen, “Here I am, where I ought to be.”