A Thing for Ferries

lady4I have a thing for ferries. Since 1994, I’ve relied on them for transportation to and from my home. First, it was The Lady of the Lake, the passenger-only ferry that took me the 55-mile length of Lake Chelan when I lived at its head in Stehekin, WA. You can read about many of those sailings and life on the lake in my memoir, Hiking Naked.

After two years in Stehekin, my family and I moved to Lopez Island, WA. This summer we’ll celebrate twenty-two years of sailing on the Salish Sea to and from the mainland with the Washington State Ferries. WSF.jpgA division of the Washington State Department of Transportation in operation since the early 1950s,WSF is the largest ferry system in the U.S. Its 21 vessels transport 24 million passengers every year through some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. Unlike The Lady of the Lake, ferries that serve Lopez carry 100 or more vehicles in addition to passengers (including livestock and delivery trucks of all sizes).

This mode of transportation is one of the most relaxing, inspiring, and tranquil I’ve ever experienced. Most days, the gentle rocking of the vessel slows my heart rate (except at those times winds are roaring, tossing the 380-foot vessel side-to-side). Announcements of whale sightings send passengers dashing to starboard or port to catch a glimpse. And for a writer, the ferry is one of the best people-watching and eavesdropping places around.

It’s no surprise, then, that I didn’t hesitate when I had a chance to take a ferry across Lake Windermere in Great Britain while traveling among Friends. The fifteen-minute crossing travels the narrowest part of the lake in Cumbria every day except Christmas and Boxing Day, just as it’s done for more than 500 years. Although the current vessel, Mallard, can carry 18 vehicles and 100 passengers, there were only a dozen cars on the gray, blustery, weekday when I travelled.

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Still, I was charmed.

I’m taking my fascination with ferries a new direction this summer. On August 1, I’ll become the first Writer-in-Residence on the WSF Interisland Ferry. tilikumThe Tillikum (Chinook jargon for “friends,” “relatives”) is the vessel that usually makes this run, sailing only between Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, and San Juan islands. Details are still in the works, with an official announcement coming in July, but I’ve already done some trial runs. The Tillikum (or its substitute if it’s in the shop for repairs) will become my floating office. My assignment: to observe, study, and write about, well, ferries, as well as the Salish Sea and threats to its well being.

I’ll keep you posted about my new project. And if you see me on the Interisland, don’t expect me to disembark until I’ve made one or more complete loops. Welcome aboard!

 

 

 

The Bliss of Lit Fest

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The question from a friend seemed innocent enough: “Would you be willing to work with me and some other writers to plan a literary festival?” My positive response rose from that blissful place of ignorance. A few weeks later, I naively made the twenty-minute ferry trip to neighboring Orcas Island to meet (and be elected to) the board of the embryonic festival.

That was about eight months ago. After this past weekend’s inaugural Orcas Island Literary Festival, the ignorance has been replaced by experience, but the bliss remains.

festmapToday, I’ve returned to the quiet and calm of my writing desk to reflect on the journey of organizing, and participating in, a literary festival. It began, as so many meaningful life events do, with a walk.

litwalkLit Walk – authors read and chatted at a variety of venues throughout Eastsound Village. The Olympic Mountains’ “rain shadow” didn’t protect us from April showers, but storytelling, poetry, essays, and food and drink cloaked us. It turned out to be a luck- and fun-filled Friday the 13th.

Twin Peaks: Black Box and Center Stage – The Orcas Center theaters pulled everyone to new heights with panels discussing home, humor, landscapes, suspense-thrillers, memoir, food, and turning books into film. food

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Interviews with bestselling and award-winning authors revealed some of the stories behind the stories.

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Kids Read (and Write) Too – The Lit Fest Family Fest (free, thanks to partners and sponsors) encouraged all ages to venture into the world of words.

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Refueling at the Book Fair and Bistro – Trekking literary territory is invigorating and demanding. The Madrona Room and lobbies at Orcas Center replenished us with good food, coffee, small presses, local goods, performances, and bookseller extraordinaire, Darvill’s Bookstore.journals

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Battle of the Genres – The only “conflict” throughout this expedition was all in fun, late on Saturday night. Trivia, improv, and puns marked good-humored competition among poets, YA (young adult) authors, and writers of thrillers. Local wine, beer, and sweet and savory snacks kept energy up.

As with all exhilarating outings, I’m eager to explore other trails we bypassed this year and to revisit the ones we followed. I’ll have that chance soon. On Monday, the board members will convene by conference call to begin work on next year’s festival.

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Want to be updated about the 2019 plan? Sign up for the Orcas Island Lit Fest newsletter on the OILF website or Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Reblog – Inspired for Hiking Season

There’s a lot of mutual admiration among authors, and I’m grateful for the ways we support each other in this solitary work. Here’s where the  mutual admiration part comes in. In January,  I wrote about how Lauren Danner and I met at one of my readings for Hiking Naked. Next week I’ll host Lauren when she reads from her new book at Lopez Bookshop. And yesterday, Lauren reviewed Hiking Naked on her blog, “Wilderness Within Her.” You can read it here and learn of two other books that may inspire you to hike. Thanks, Lauren!

 

John Muir wrote that “going out is really going in,” and these books prove his point. Get inspired for hiking season by reading about how three adventurers engage with the wild. The post What I’m reading | Three books to inspire you for hiking season appeared first on Lauren Danner.

via What I’m reading | Three books to inspire you for hiking season — Lauren Danner

*Afterthought #68 – Fall Reading List

Here on the Salish Sea, signs of autumn appear every day—nippy early mornings and evenings, apples reddening, fog hovering in the bay, and sun and rain glinting on firs and cedars. I’ve pulled out sweaters and dug out my socks from the bottom of the drawer. Ahhhh, my favorite season. I’m looking forward to the slower pace and time indoors to delve into my fall reading list. This year, I’m building a stack of titles by writers who also are friends. They’re all published by smaller presses (including the one who published my memoir, Homebound Publications) and likely aren’t well-known to many readers, but their writing is top notch. So, if you’re looking for books to curl up with, I recommend these (all available now or soon, wherever books are sold):

Heidi-Barr-Cover-250Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth by Heidi Barr is a collection of essays rooted in the rhythm of the natural world. Through the turn of the seasons, Heidi illustrates how the cycles of the earth have informed her everyday life from community to vocation to the food that finds its way to the dinner table. Through gardening, simple living, and prioritizing sustainability, she paints a picture of how remaining close to the earth provides a solid foundation even as the climate changes and the story of the world shifts. Part stories, part wonderings, and part call to act, this collection of meditations invites reflection, encourages awareness, and inspires action. For more information, read my interview with Heidi Barr.

Companions-on-the-Way-250In Companions on the Way, Gunilla Norris has given us all a magnificent gift: A simple book of wisdom so straightforward, so without jargon, and so comforting to read, that no one will want to be without it on the bedside table. Here is a lifetime of good sense. Here are beautiful sentences. And here is a book that is like Grandmother’s arms: entirely reassuring, safe, full of sweetness, and a deep sense of home.” –Stephen Cope, Senior Scholar in Residence, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, bestselling author of The Great Work of Your Life, and Soul Friends.

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Drawing from sources ranging from the ancient apocalyptic traditions to contemporary science, The Great Re-Imagining by Theodore Richards explores the deep narratives that have brought us to the brink of apocalypse and invites us to re-imagine our place in the world.

 

paddlingInspired partly by her own spirit of adventure, and partly by the stories of her native coastal ancestors, Irene Skyriver celebrated her fortieth year of life with a solo kayak voyage, paddling from Alaska to her home on Washington’s Lopez Island. Paddling with Spirits interweaves the true account of Irene’s journey with generational stories handed down and vividly re-imagined. The book dips like a paddle itself between the stories of those who inspired her, and Irene’s own journey down a lonely coast.

 

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A Tear in the Soul by Amanda Webster – Born into privilege and wealth, Amanda is a sixth generation Australian descended from white settlers and the third generation to grow up in Kalgoorlie. When she turned five, Amanda became friends with Aboriginal children from the nearby Kurrawang Mission. Forty years later, she confronts her racist blunders, her cultural ignorance and her family’s secret past. And so begins her journey of reconciliation and friendship, taking her into a world she hardly knew existed.

 

Congratulations and thank you to all of these fine writers. Let the rains begin; I’m ready!