Today I handed over the keys to the Wauna (Gig Harbor) fixer-upper my husband and I purchased on the Key Peninsula in June 2015. Fully renovated, it’s been given a new lease on a long life, sold to a couple who love the final result, and Kevin and I turn our attention to our new home in need of even more care and restoration than the last.
When we arrived on the Key Peninsula with our keys to a foreclosed property, we knew we’d be moving on after a few years, but we didn’t know where. For the past few years we combed The Key for possibilities including a red-shagged funhouse on the cliff above Henderson Bay, to a foundationless cabin at the tip of narrow road outside Lakebay, to a sturdy ranch at the southernmost end of Longbranch, all with incredible views of Mt. Rainier. But none of those possibilities were feasible.
We were under contract on a short sale in Gig Harbor, then a bank-owned home on Fox Island, that never materialized, so we widened our search, following the ribbon of Hwy 302 from the Wauna curve to its terminus at Hwy 3 in Belfair, then along Hwy 106 hugging the Hood Canal, west past the hamlet of Union to a rickety home on the waterfront facing the Olympic Mountains where we’re undertaking another transformation.
I say goodbye to The Key, thankful for patrons of the arts like writer Jerry Libstaff, and his wife Pam, and their incredible hospitality hosting Words & Music and Watermark Writers. It was wonderful to mingle with local writers like Key Peninsula News reporter Irene Torres (who invited me to write for the paper), and Ted Olinger (former KP News editor) at poetry readings and book signings at the Blend Wine Shop & Bar, thanks to Jerry’s organizing, and Blend owner Don’s generosity.
I leave inspired by people like artist, writer, and community activist Carolyn Wiley (who seems to do everything, and well); by Larry & Annita, who have a ministry of providing free firewood to veterans and struggling families (we donated the trees, and the labor to split them, that we removed from our property); by the husband selling his wife’s jams between Lake Kathryn Food Market & Cost Less pharmacy to raise money for the fire department (though I can’t find Lake Kathryn anywhere)—and many others who share their gifts with the community.
I leave especially thankful for my neighbors, who put up with a yard full of tools and lumber as we renovated our home and appreciated our contribution to the neighborhood health.
I take visual memories as well: The two polka-dotted boulders near mile marker 8 on Hwy 302 that remind me of giant dice. Semi-trucks barreling toward me as we traverse the narrow Purdy Bridge. The SUV I followed over the bridge, its side-view mirror scraping the guardrail, sending off sparks. Men and women clad in waders and headlamps harvesting oysters during the late night low-tide in Burley Lagoon.
And most of all, the elusive glorious Mt Rainier (which I wrote about in a newspaper column): backlit at sunrise on certain mornings, wreathed by lenticular clouds in midday, glowing pink at sunset. The Olympics have their work cut out for them.
I am a writer who, in December 2011, fortified by a new MFA, empty nest, and changes in my husband's employment, relocated from my native California to Washington state to see what would unfold next.