Most summer mornings of my childhood I woke to the sounds of the forest. The songs of thrushes and vireos drifted through the open window of the bunk room Sister and I shared. Lured from my nest in the top bunk by the delicious trifecta of coffee, pancakes and bacon, I’d venture through the curtain-that-was-a-door and out into the main room our cabin. Sister would rise soon after me. Seated at the table below a huge picture widow we would quickly eat breakfast, eager to get outside and explore.
It was in the 60’s that Grandpa purchased our plot of land. He chose a spot perched on a clifftop overlooking a shallow bay to build our little cabin. That smell, unique to buildings made completely from wood, is forever engrained in my memory. I’d study the patterns in the woodgrain of the panelled walls and the worn wooden floors, seeing spiders and faces of old men.
Our days were dictated by tidal rhythms and weather conditions. Low tide was for combing the beach for washed up treasures and turning rocks to peak at creatures hidden beneath. Afternoons were spent arranging our bounty along windowsills and in the old fishnet. On the walls hung mementos, photographs, feathers, the biggest and most beautiful sea shells found that summer. Hours slipped by sitting at the table pouring over field guides, sketching what we’d seen, learning about everything from whelks to whales. Calm days called for boat trips to explore other islands. Windy days were for swimming at the lake or seeking out secret places in the forest. In the evenings when the tide came in we could leap from the rocks into the water without fear of the dreaded seaweed tickling our toes. Sundown meant epic meals with friends and family, roasting marshmallows, swimming in the bioluminescence and playing boardgames until eyelids became heavy . Sister and I would lie in our bunk recounting the day’s adventure, bodies tired but souls brimming with happiness.
Those summers I learned to be a naturalist, to observe wildlife and notice the subtle signals of the outside world. I know the rocks on those beaches like I know my living room furniture (if we go there I’ll show you the rock where a momma bull sculpin lays her eggs every year). I learned to read the clouds and the water, to predict weather and make decisions accordingly. I learned to fish, to dock a boat, to tie knots. I learned where to set the crab traps and find the juiciest berries.
This pendant is inspired by those summers.