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STORY: I Married The Woodman


I didn't know I was destined to marry a woodman. "The Woodman" (of Orcas Island) to be exact. Life on this island has been an adventure and to be honest, the people we once were when we lived on the mainland have been tucked deeply inside the people we are now. For some this is hard to understand, for some it's simple. You see, he was once the "Tri-Five Man". That is who I married. A man whose deeply rooted passion was for cars, (-tri-fives are 1955, 1956, and 1957's Chevys to be exact-). He lived and breathed them. We built a business on his passion, a lifestyle, a home. This is another story though, a whole different life that seemed to have happened a lifetime ago.

Before we moved to this island, I should have seen it coming. There were hints. I was 21 when we received our first propane bill after a long hard few months enduring the Frasier River's freezing cold wind blowing through the cracks of our vintage Bellingham home. This is was the Mother of All Bills! Where did we go wrong? We thought we were ever so conservative in our use of propane for heating and cooking, but the number at the bottom of the bill caused us to hyperventilate. We knew things had to change. As I grudgingly wrote the check for the propane bill, in came the wood stove. Then chainsaws, rows of stacked wood on pallets, and wood rounds started appearing. And as evidence of this new change, every room in the house started gathering small woodchips before I could sweep them up. These little harmless woodchips leave crumb trails EVERYWHERE, falling off The Woodman's clothes and out of the rolled up cuffs of his jeans. It reminds me of magical fairy dust sparkles, except my woodchips "fairy dust" is real. They leave evidence of their existence everywhere. Sigh.....everywhere.

When we moved to the island, we moved into a house that had an electric furnace. I thought I was safe, that I could give the dust pan a break. The Woodman went into hiding, until one day we decided to build a house on raw land. Though the land was beautiful it was truly a wild forest, so overgrown it struggled to flourish. The Woodman came out of hiding this time for good. Years were spent building roads, house sites, small meadows, shops sites and the magical fairy sawdust was prolific. If I had a wood stove at the time (because we hadn't moved into the new house, yet), I would have been toasty just burning dust pans of sawdust. Instead I kept the electric furnace on low and ran around the house sweeping vigorously in an effort to stay warm while picking magical fairy sawdust out of my layered sweaters.

All this wood now laid in piles on our property, some was sold but most remained. The timber market crumbled and logs weren't marketable. A friend who had sold firewood to the campers one day asked my husband if he would like to start making firewood in abundance. He struck a deal with Moran State Park and the Woodman was not just named that in earnest, but in occupation. People would now yell "It's the Woodman!" and hail him down to bring campfire wood to their campsites. The Tri-Five man was tucked away as the demand for the Woodman became all-consuming.

Even in the hot months of August the sawdust and I were at war.

A business was built. A forest was managed. A wood furnace was purchased. The life of a family was forever altered by a name and a lifestyle that has led us to a much better place than I could have ever imagined. When I look at the floor of my home every day, I see his magical fairy dust and am reminded that I married the Woodman. I am not only a very lucky woman, but a very warm one. Island life changes us in unexpected ways, and if you want to embrace true "island living," you learn to accept it as it comes.

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