July 4, 2001
With 1,449 miles behind us, my dad, my 2-year old twins, my 4-year old, my geriatric husky, 35 houseplants and I pulled into a humble ferryboat queue. Only seven minutes and an expanse of sparkling blue water separated us from Lummi Island, an island unknown to my family and me, in an equally unfamiliar place called the Salish Sea. With eyes on our destination, Bellingham Bay glittered to the east; the celebrated San Juan Island chain of Washington State dotted it's way south; and the fringe of the Gulf Islands Archipelago of British Columbia stretched out to the north.
Seven minutes later, and my little family would tumble out of car seats to join their dad and “help” unpack the U-Haul in which my husband had arrived a few days earlier.
Relocating from Colorado to “somewhere in the Pacific Northwest," we didn’t know where we would ultimately call “home.” We only knew that our search would begin in a small cabin, with a short-term lease, on this tiny island.
With Lummi Island as our base camp, our hunt for “home” could begin! Where to? Portland? Seattle? Bellingham? Eugene? Figuratively speaking, the Pacific Northwest was our oyster, and Lummi Island—we would soon discover—was the pearl.
We had been on Lummi Island for fewer than 72 hours, and I knew the search was over. People, place and purpose aligned flawlessly to meet our family’s needs. I knew this tiny island was where we belonged – it was home.
How did I know?
The Community Pancake Breakfast. Seriously, does anyone host pancake breakfasts anymore?
The honor-system vegetable stand—the kind with a coffee can next to the fresh produce, stuffed with fives and tens. Not a soul in sight to guard the cash, only a note that said, “Thanks!”
The local mom with her own twins (the exact same age— no kidding!) She recognized us as newcomers and then quite naturally invited us to join their playgroup.
The neighbors. Several stopped by in those first 72 hours to say hello and welcome us to the island, and one was carrying a platter piled high with fried chicken!
The tiny library. That friendly librarian knew our names the very first day. Were we in Mayberry?
The Lilliputian post office. Serving only 800 island residents, it operated on “island time”.
The charming 20-car ferry. The sturdy boat figured prominently as the only link to the “outside world.”
The stories of quaint island traditions: harvest parades; old-fashioned Halloween carnivals; spaghetti dinners and salmon cookouts.
The two-room schoolhouse. The secretary passed out hugs and tissues on the first day of kindergarten. To the parents!
The ancient tradition of reef net fishing. (There are only eleven fishing rigs worldwide, and half are found right here on Lummi!)
And finally, the migrating orca whales - the dignitaries that frequented the waters surrounding the island.
Answering a call
Call it magic, or just call it love. Lummi Island received me and my family warmly. Within those first three days, we felt safe and loved on her shores. We resonated with the values of community, and connected instinctively to the land where time is told by the changing tides, and months are marked by the shifting position of the moon.
As I see it now, my family and I answered a call years ago, the call of place, and we continue to respond to this call today.
The first call
Twenty-some years ago, I earned my credentials and became a schoolteacher. As quickly as I recognized my calling to Lummi Island, I recognized my calling as a teacher. Dreaming up creative ways to teach a concept “fills my cup”… I get a rush every time a student has an “aha” moment… I celebrate when my classroom gels into a community…
Having spent most of my life as a teacher, with hundreds of students in dozens of Colorado classrooms, I ultimately found my way into that sweet, two-room Lummi Island schoolhouse. Necessitated by the island baby boom, I was added to the tightly-knit teaching team and together, we ushered in the era of the two-and-a-half-room schoolhouse.
The calls keep coming!
Fast-forward nearly sixteen years… I raised my children here on this island. I sent them to school in those two-and-a-half rooms, they grew to be compassionate young women, and then, when the time was right, I retired from teaching. Now another calling whispers to me – I am compelled to introduce others to this special place in the Salish Sea and the island magic that so utterly shaped my life. I must share with others that deep sense of community, reinforce that we are all part of something bigger, and, if they have forgotten, let others know that they belong.
REC Retreats was joyfully born!
Running REC retreats allows me to create, teach, learn, share the power of place, meet new people, connect to nature and build a larger community for others, and myself.
REC Retreats is a perfect “fit” for me—people, place and purpose align like stars in a clear night sky, and it is here that I’ve come to know myself and where I belong.
I welcome you, friend, to visit and experience the same.