We had a hot, dry summer in the Northwest, punctuated by bad air from fires to the north, east, and south. Some days were apocalyptically bad, with the worst air I have tried to breathe since leaving smog-filled San Bernardino in the 1970s. But the plants loved the days of endless sunlight, rare up here.
Fall means Harvest Fair on Bainbridge Island, where we can celebrate the abundance of the island with pie contests, livestock shows, and driving our children around in a hay cart, or racing them down open halves of irrigation pipe.
Fall also means it’s time to register to vote. Bainbridge Island is located at that interface between rural and urban. Its natural isolation means growth is slower here, but we are ½ hour by boat from the fastest growing metropolis in the country, and our real estate prices are rising to reflect that. Maintaining a balance of natural growth, human development, and agricultural use will become increasingly difficult, especially if we expect to create affordable housing for our service sector. There is no simple formula for maintaining this balance, only vigilance and long-range planning. Long-range planning is easily belittled by the outside observer, but respectful cooperation within the city, as well as with county-wide and regional groups, is crucial for effective governance. A new, fast ferry from Bremerton to Seattle will take off some of the pressure by redirecting growth to South Kitsap County.
Oh yes, and we live on the Seattle Fault, recently rediscovered, that forks up the length of the island. The Suquamish ancestors witnessed its last major slippage 1,000 years ago, as I describe in The Deepest Roots, so we are overdue for another one. Whatever drills we run, we will not be prepared. As we can see in Houston and Mexico City and Puerto Rico, we will be largely on our own to recover from that event. Even if you do not have relatives or colleagues in these areas, I hope you will consider donating to causes that support them.
I visited Centralia by train last week to finish my book tour with an in-service workshop for the Timberline Library System staff, and have now lost my voice. This is my body’s way of telling me to shut up and write. I have returned to the short-story form as I try to catch up with the ideas in my head. Rather than rework a collection I started earlier, I realized last night that I am writing a new collection called “The Deerdancer and Other Stories.” Three of the stories have been accepted for anthologies, and I am working on a fourth.
Enjoy the harvest.