Into the social whirl (with a tale of ‘Nudes and Prudes’)

Blooming daffodils paint the valley floor east of Best Road in the Skagit Valley. The golden blooms are peaking this week.


With just me and the cat and not a lot of neighbors around, I’m sharply aware of the necessity of scheduling off-island time in the off-season. Dear Barbara was happy to be a hermit. I’m more of a social animal. On a small island nobody’s heard of, it’s a challenge.

Due to a variety of circumstances, some recent plans got postponed (Galley Cat had a bad cold, then my daughter had a bad cold, etc.) Now, several social occasions and road trips have become stacked on top of one another. Not complaining, but I’m flapping as fast as I can.

Dave and Jill Kern on the dock at Joemma Beach State Park, on South Puget Sound’s Key Peninsula.

It started with me and Galley road tripping through daffodil fields of the Skagit Valley last Thursday on our way to the Kitsap Peninsula. We spent three days there at the end of last week with Dave and Jill Kern, old friends from my days at The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. From their home near Port Orchard, my hosts and I had a fun road trip exploring the nearby Key Peninsula, a remote backwater that is home to communities such as Home (yes, that’s the town name), a tiny burg on a shallow bay of South Puget Sound.

Today, Home is a quiet assemblage of pleasant waterfront domiciles, but it was founded in 1895 as a utopian community for free-thinkers, anarchists, nudists and adherents of free love. The community’s founders chose the remote location, hidden from the rest of the world, for a reason. But after a self-proclaimed anarchist assassinated President William McKinley in 1901, the Home anarchists drew the ire of self-styled patriots in nearby Tacoma who almost descended on the community with pitchforks and torches. (Home was spared only because a steamboat operator refused to transport the vigilantes). As years went by, fractures grew within the community, with Home residents staking out various moral grounds, leading to factions being labeled “Nudes and Prudes.” (Read the Wikipedia entry, it’s a hoot.)

Dave and Jill had no idea of the colorful history just down the road from them. I had fun sharing the story that I had learned from an earlier sailing adventure in the area.

Galley and I returned to the Nuthatch on Saturday evening, and I was up and about early the next morning to hop aboard WeLike for a trip to Lopez Island. I was invited to brunch with friends Lynn Thompson and David Foutch at their holiday home overlooking Outer Bay on the southern tip of Lopez. Besides gorging with my friends on tasty pastries and muffins from Holly B’s Bakery and Barn Owl Bakery, along with fruit salad, flagons of good coffee, and Lynn’s tasty quiche with goat cheese, I got to meet new friends Ande and Scott Finley, Lopezians who are active with Transition Lopez Island, a coalition of locals working toward a regenerative, resilient future. The conversation was lively. They told me about vacationing in their electric car. I told them about my Center Island neighbor who is building an electric-powered, carbon-fiber hydrofoil catamaran.

Lopez friends and Eddy the Springer Spaniel pause at Lopez Island’s Iceberg Point monument commemorating the Treaty of 1908, which finalized the boundary between the United States and Canada.

On a hike around nearby Iceberg Point we saw wood ducks, harbor seals and the season’s first wildflowers.

This coming Saturday Galley and I hit the road again for three nights in Vancouver/Portland to visit more friends and have a reunion with my brother Tom, whose 10-week cabin-sitting experience for me last summer helped convince him to return from Arizona to the Northwest. I’m having breakfast with him in his new Portland digs on Sunday. Dinner with friends that night. A day of walks and exploring with another friend on Monday.

Whew. This butterfly’s wings are getting a workout. After a quiet winter in my island cocoon, it’s a good thing.

A satin flower, Olysynium douglasii, was among the first blooming wildflowers on Iceberg Point on Sunday.