Last Wednesday evening, as I was settling in to finish Sisterland, my phone chirped with a text message.
“We are unable to use our Lopez home this weekend, so it’s yours if you would like to go.”
The washing machine churned and the dryer tumbled in the background, working their way through the sheets and towels used by our houseguests who'd left earlier that day. I hadn’t sat and read in awhile. Going away for the weekend would take a lot of effort.
I replied instantly.
Glancing sideways at Alexi, I said, “We're going to Lopez for the weekend! The O's just invited us to use their cabin, and I said we'd love to.” His fingers stopped typing. He looked at me, paused, then said, “That sounds like fun!”
I picked up my book; he turned back to his screen.
At the ferry terminal Friday morning, a faint mirage of the dock was all that was visible from the parking area where we waited. Everything was shrouded in a thick fog, like a scene out of Pirates of the Caribbean, except there was no Johnny Depp.
I love all of the San Juan Islands; their wild beauty, the Cathedral peacefulness that makes my throat catch. We drove off the ferry into morning sunshine and the island’s bucolic landscape, stopping at a farmstand to buy vegetables for the weekend – beets, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, basil, an onion, zucchini.
We set about settling in and exploring. After a lunch fashioned primarily out of our farmstand finds, we rested and read together. I startled awake to cackles of laughter and voice imitations of Alexi; the boys were trying to get it just right. Once they realized I was awake, they wanted me to take a turn; weirdly, I couldn’t bring the exact sound of Alexi's voice to mind in his absence. He was at work, and would arrive on the last ferry of the night. Abbott thought his impression was pretty accurate. I told him it reminded me more of Homer Simpson.
As Cal began to set the table for dinner, he was waylaid by the utensil drawer; examining everything new to him, commenting on the tools identical to ours. Tucked inside the intimacy of being together without outside distractions or obligations was the intimacy of staying in another family’s home with their books, the contents of their refrigerator, sleeping in their beds.
After breakfast on Saturday, we saw a fawn so young it still had spots.
Late morning, Alexi and the boys took a kayak out with a crab trap perched on the back, baited with leftover chicken bones. They paddled out a good distance to get to a depth likely to be the home of Dungeness crabs, dropped it overboard, and watched it sink to the bottom. When they returned, everyone was hungry for lunch. After we ate, some of us read, some of us played Othello. Seclusion doubles the return on relaxation; I dozed like a narcoleptic, drugged by the quiet and the sun.
Eventually, we wandered back to the beach, and Alexi and the boys paddled back to the trap. A surprisingly short time later, they approached the shore again, and I knew from the looks on their faces it had been a successful mission.
Before we measured the crabs (to make sure they were big enough to keep) and checked their gender (only males are permissible to eat), Alexi ran back to the cabin to get gloves to protect himself. In his absence, one managed to escape the trap. I tried to keep it from getting away by blocking passage with my feet. It showed me its best Ninja pose, and I called a truce. I was never more glad to have heavy rubber boots on.
A short time later, we ate the tender, perfectly cooked crab. Abbott and Cal kept remarking, “This is a feast!” And it was. We were at the table forever, working our way through four Dungeness crabs. Finally, we were sated, and at the end of our clean-up, in the dark, Alexi took the discarded shells and walked them back to the water.