Tag Archives: Cape Cod

Walking in the World

White Point sign

BY KIMBERLY MAYER

There are people in our lives who have an influence they’d never know. My parents instilled a love for Cape Cod that we find in many ways living here on San Juan Island in Washington. The friend in California who suggested a year or so ago that I rein in this blog to a remodeling theme: remodeling a house, remodeling a life—the same thing, in my book. Our daughter, now living in Argentina, who upon visiting before her departure grew my daily walk by a beautiful mile or two. And in sending me a video of the works of sculptor Anthony Howe on neighboring Orcas Island, my cousin in Atlanta reminding me to stay with art every day. And to try not to stray.

They are all part and parcel of who I am, why I’m here, and how I see it.

“Walking the loop” began as a tradition while living on upper Queen Anne in Seattle and continues out here today. That first loop took me around the perimeter of the hill, overlooking the Space Needle and downtown Seattle, Lake Union, and Puget Sound. Today’s loop takes me alongside Westcott Bay, and through the red, white and blue nostalgic quality of Roche Harbor Resort where everyone looks good in the light. Finally, the road meanders through an old growth forest of cedar, fir, and pine where everything grows dark and green, and back to my home on the bay.

Where the road dips down to the shoreline I experience what I call a Cape Cod moment, framed by flatlands, grasses, marshes, and horizon. In the course of this walk I may pass only one or two cars on the road, a few more in summer, on an island where every driver waves.

This is the walk my daughter grew, taking it out on a point to new terrain, the posh end of White Point Road. Here I pass tennis courts where nobody’s playing, a pond with a dock establishing someone’s swimming hole, and a private golf course back in there somewhere, for I’ve seen it from the water. Horse fencing and regally high pampas grasses standing like sentry guide the way. Crushed white shells underfoot line the one-lane road at sea level. It’s as private as private can be, except for me, out on this point.

Here I gape at houses, something that seems to be my lot in life: the desire to see myself in other spaces, other places. On walks I finish unfinished houses in my mind, or tear them down and start again. As anyone in the field knows, design is never done. When the bones are good, I may mentally repaint it, or envision it clad in cedar shingles, dark, red, natural or a weathered gray.

At home, the short video on the kinetic sculpture of Anthony Howe awaits me. It’s mesmerizing. How did my cousin know to send this now? I needed it. Isn’t art what ultimately pulls us through? All the arts, always. And art as balm, particularly in troubling times. Which is where we are today.

“After reading the newspaper on Sunday, I sit quietly and simply look at art books.” Michael Graves

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A DIY Christmas

Tree Bird

 

Christmas is doing itself this year. I have surrendered to the environment.

Several powerful windstorms have come to visit us in our first winter on San Juan Island. Days as dark as night. Pinecones pelting windowpanes like sleet. Downed branches and trees crisscrossing roads and paths. And that incessant hum…

I have trouble falling asleep with the winds. And then I don’t know where I am when I awaken.

I am learning that living on the water is much like living on a boat. At high tide our concern is that the bank will hold. At low tide we breathe a sigh of relief—that is when we fall asleep, I think. In my dreams we’ve been swept away, much the way I feel when anchoring for the night.

“The florist delivered again!” I exclaim, as I throw open the front door in the morning. Each day after a windstorm I find fresh branches at my doorstep, from which I cut boughs to freshen our mantle, tuck onto gifts, and make arrangements with greens, pinecones and winterberries.

All the roads are softly covered in cedar and pine needles after a windstorm, as soft and quiet as a snowfall. At our front door a foyer rug of navy, salmons and green is perfect for hiding the needles coming in on every boot. Who knew?

The rug was a gift from my parents. Windstorms whistled when they lived on Cape Cod. When the wind whistled everyone wanted to come downstairs to sleep.

Interesting, a whistling there. A deep, low humming here.

Back to Christmas.

We cut down our own little tree on our property. In the house it speaks to me, telling me what it wants.

“Forget the totes full of Victorian and Venetian glass ornaments you collected over the years,” it says. Suddenly all of that is an heirloom.

“What I am is a woodland tree.”

I knew that.

Rummaging through my totes for birds, pinecones, vines and icicles, I found a few. It doesn’t get on my tree now unless it comes from the forest.

The beauty of the woodland tree is in the minimalism. It speaks of the scarcity of winter.

(note to self: don’t go overboard collecting these ornaments either).

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