Crafting Joy


We made the first of our numerous stops on our archipelago of friends in the Pacific Northwest, stretching southward to home in San Francisco. It began with a great visit with our friend Elizabeth in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. One of the highlights was a hike on Friday morning around Fort Casey, a battlement that was built after World War I and used for training through WWII, and is now a state park. Fort Casey is on a point of land that looks out across Admiralty Inlet, just south of the Juan de Fuca Strait, to Port Townsend. The point is wrapped by fast and unusual currents that bring enormous amounts of driftwood to its shores, making for a fun beachcombing adventure.

On Saturday, we wandered through Musselfest, the annual celebration of Penn Cove mussels in Coupeville. We were too late to get tasting tickets, which would have allowed us a small cup of mussel chowder at the many vendors in town, as well as a vote for the best chowder of 2016. For a consolation prize, we settled for some mussel chowder, mussels in saffron cream, and wine. Later that afternoon, we took a boat tour of the mussel farm in Penn Cove, complete with “aqua-cam” and learned the farm is one of the first and most successful aquaculture ventures in the US. The business was begun in 1975 by a retired serviceman after witnessing similar ventures in Asia. It has grown to include oyster and clam farming and remains a sustainable, environmentally sound industry. Those Penn Cove mussels are also delicious!

Our adventures on Whidbey were fun, but the best part was spending time with our friend. We felt welcome, at home, and much loved. We left the Island early on Sunday morning, headed for our next destination, Seattle. I felt tired from the loss of the hour with daylight savings time, a little sad at another farewell, and somewhat dislocated by our travel and frequent moves. And yet: the purpose of our travels after leaving God’s Pocket was to see many of our friends in the Pacific Northwest, always a reason for joy.

We were headed to Seattle to stay with our friends Richard and Jana, with whom we SCUBA dive with every other year in September at God’s Pocket Resort off Vancouver Island, and with whom we enjoy good food and wine whenever possible. Two years ago we added a week of salmon fishing in advance of the diving, and will do so again this year. Richard was one of David’s roommates at MIT, so their history is a long one.

Jana graciously invited me to join her friends at a monthly gathering she calls “Crafternoon” – a three-hour block of time for a group of people to focus on an artistic or craft project – and I was both intrigued and anxious about saying yes. Jana is a graphic designer and artist, and her friends all have art-related jobs or passion projects. I worried about fitting in, being a stranger to the group of long-term friends, and of not being artistic enough. I kept these worries to myself, and realized that the universe was giving me an opportunity to do what I had explicitly intended for this year: to explore and deepen my creativity.

So, I did say ‘yes’ and expressed my enthusiasm, feeling it override any residual anxiety. When we all sat around the table, each working on something creative, I enjoyed listening to the chat, sometimes adding a thought or comment. One of the women had also been at Musselfest, and I had seen her Art Car on display. Mostly I just focused on being present, appreciating the ideas and craft at the table, and feeling comfortable with the process of being in this creative group. (I worked on a beading project I had taken to Canada but hadn’t worked on at all.) I look forward to implementing ‘crafternoon’ with my friends in the Bay Area.

That evening, Jana and I met up with David and Richard for drinks and dinner at a wonderful small plate restaurant, Manolin, in the Fremont area of Seattle. The meal was a perfect cap to a day of creativity, learning, and friendship. Each dish was multi-layered and full of flavor, and we had fun guessing at some of the ingredients, remarking on the ingenuity of putting them together in the same dish.

I delighted in being with David and our friends, chatting and enjoying a fine meal and a great wine. I thought about my sadness from the morning, and my trepidation at doing something new with a group of strangers. I had found a small thread of enthusiasm and tied myself to it, releasing fear and disappointment and replacing it with joy and fellowship. I had allowed all that was good in the day to surround me. And indeed, it was a very good day.


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