Friday, October 2, 2015

Duck Island

I'll never forget the day our offer was accepted on our current Seattle home. I was still in Reston, VA with the boys: working, packing up, and selling our NoVA house.  Ed was in Seattle, working a new job by day and running the real estate rat maze by evening, searching for that elusive block of cheese with a six-figure price tag.

Our new house was in a neighborhood that I had visited once and had never stopped thinking about, near a beautiful lake, with the Seattle cityscape rising in its background. I could barely believe that our offer had been accepted in the crazy gold mine that is currently Seattle Real Estate.  The honeymoon is now mostly over as far as my neighborhood is concerned, but it was a day full of possibility and wonder.

When the boys came home from school, I told them the news about the house. I hadn't yet mentioned the possibility of this house to them.  We are careful with our money and I didn't think we really had much of a shot with this particular house in the land of escalating clauses and offer review dates.  By some random stroke of luck, our offer had been accepted.  The boys and I looked at pictures of our new home and maps of the surrounding area. We marveled how close the lake and their school would be to our house. Asher immediately zeroed in on a fine detail from a map of the lake….a small mysterious island. Duck Island.

Duck Island continued to mystify and thrill eight-year-old Asher. Over the past two years, we have Asher has speculated about what kinds of things inhabited the island for many hours at a time….Buried treasure? A native people? Was it like Australia…where they sent all the criminals? (this was probably the most realistic theory, as it faced the Aurora Ave side of the lake).  We have walked around the lake with the island in full view, boated around the island, peeping into it's thick moat of greenery and trees with binoculars, all many many times.  Why I never thought to just dock our boat and go take a look on one of those occasions is it's own mystery.  It just seemed so….Forbidden.

Asher touching landfall
Last July, with NoĆ© at summer school and two hours to kill before he returned, Asher and I kayaked on the lake.  And we did our usual loop around Duck Island.  Asher, once again, asked if we could stop.

Why not?

There wasn't an inviting place to dock our two-seat kayak, so I stayed anchored to the boat while Asher hopped onto land (kind-of reminiscent of Captain Cook setting foot on Hawaii for the first time…or maybe the opposite).  He was eager to claim this unchartered territory, exactly seventy blocks from downtown Seattle, as his own.  I said a quiet prayer that no island natives would tie him up and run him over a fire like a human shish kabob.

It didn't take long for Asher to run back to the boat after circling the island (it's not really a very big island).

He was out of breath, a glint of excitement in his eyes. "Mom, guess what?  I think NATIVE AMERICANS live on the island.  There's a teepee and everything!  I took pictures!" He had taken my iPhone on his island tour and began to click through photos.

the sacred site

He had either uncovered North American Indian artifacts worthy of a natural history museum or a hobo hangout.  All bets on the latter.

We rowed back to shore with smiles on our faces, heroic conquerors of tiny urban islands.

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