Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Rainy Afternoon in La Conner

When one comes to the Pacific Northwest in late November, one has to expect rainy weather. I was fully prepared for that, and the fog and mist and rain simply provide an experience that is not available back in Utah.

What I tried to prepare for, but still found difficult to adjust to, is the bone chilling cold. When I lived in Vancouver from 1986 to 1996, my parents would come to visit from Ohio from time to time. I remember them complaining about how *cold* it was. Wait, I thought, you come from Ohio where it gets a heck of a lot colder than it does here. Why are you complaining about the cold? It only took one visit, and the next time they came back, they were prepared. Long johns. Thermal underwear. Woolen shirts. The whole nine yards. I found it all somewhat perplexing.

Now, however, I understand. Although it gets much colder in Utah than it does up here, the cold seeps through layers of clothing, through skin, through muscle, etc., right to the bones. I was accustomed to it when I lived in Vancouver. Now, I'm not. I have seen people wearing only t-shirts indoors and I thought, "God! How do they stand it?" I, meanwhile, was shivering under several layers of various synthetic fabrics that are supposed to keep one warm in an age that has outgrown/superseded wool.

But enough of all that.

Today is Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. It is only 4:59 p.m. local time and it has been dark for a good 30 minutes. We are comfortably ensconced in our snug B&B in Fort Langley, British Columbia, a few blocks from the house of my daughter Hannah, her husband Cary and their gorgeous daughter (wait for the pictures), Hazel. More on that later.

We flew up to Seattle on Monday and drove to Anacortes to visit friends we had met on our cycling trips. Yesterday, Tuesday, began at 8:00 a.m. with a yoga class that is regularly attended by our friends Michelle and Jen. We, along with Michelle's husband Malcolm, resulted in a four-person male contingent that was added to a class that normally has only one representative of our gender. It was a beautiful class taught by Dunya, an interesting woman who speaks the English language how one imagines it is meant to be spoke: clear, perfectly articulated, with a bit of an Irish lilt that makes everything she says sound happy and content.

Dunya and Jen

After the class, we all went out for breakfast across the street. I was intrigued by Dunya's accent. As we worked our way through the class, I had thought, "Canadian? ... Irish? Where was she from?" (I have a thing about accents.) 

So I asked her at breakfast. "Where are you from?" "Chicago," was the response. Chicago? You've got to be kidding me. She didn't have any of the nasal twang associated with the region around the Great Lakes. And I should know: as a southern Illinoisan who lived with 48 other guys in my college fraternity who were almost all from Chicago and its suburbs, I knew that this woman definitely didn't sound like a native Chicagoan. 

Then, she mentioned the Irish lilt. "A possibility of a bit of an Irish lilt," was how she had put it. I was intrigued. "What's your ancestry?," I asked over eggs and bacon and pancakes. ( I really don't mean to be nosy; I guess I just am.) "I have no idea," was her surprising response. "I was adopted. And I have no idea who my birth parents were. Scandinavian? Perhaps. Irish? I don't know. I have felt drawn to Ireland. But who's to say?" 

"And does it matter?" the unspoken question dangling in the air above the table. 

Through the res to La Conner. 

I was embarrassed. I thought perhaps I had stupidly intruded on spaces that were private, held close to the heart. We went on to talk of my adopted children. Of the movie, "Wilhelmina." Of all the children of unwed Catholic mothers who had found their way into "good Catholic homes." Sigh. Deep sigh, as I think of those mothers. Of all the tragedy and hurt and pain that is forever unrecorded, but whose story is waiting to be told.

All of this. All of this that was unknown to me when I woke up that morning. What a morning! What a sense of connecting, being alive. If you know, you understand. If you don't, you don't. I'll leave it at that.

That afternoon, after Michelle had completed her Soroptimist event, we headed for La Conner.

Speaking of Soroptomists, as I went through the poses of our yoga class yesterday morning, I looked out the third-storey window of the heritage building in which our studio was housed and saw, down the street, the Elks building. When we left to drive to breakfast down the street, I saw the Eagles lodge building. And I imagined that there is a Kiwanis Club and a Lions Club and a Rotary Club. All in a town of 15,000 people. And I thought: (a) this reminds me of Carmi, the town in which I grew up in southern Illinois, where there were these social clubs that provided rings of community within a community; and (b) how these rings of community do not exist in the area in which I now live in metropolitan Salt Lake City. 

I have written enough. Now, I will just post pictures I took at La Conner yesterday afternoon. With my iPhone. 

I think there was a building like this in Twilight 2? Spooky.

Cold, foggy iPhone lens. Me, Malcolm, Michelle, Nathan and Jen.

It was a remarkable day. Not spectacular, but memorable. Cherished. Life. Sigh.

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