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The Storms That Unite Us

When the first ruthless kiss of winter comes and stays on the island it reminds of my childhood here on the island. The winter storms of the late 80's and early 90's in particular that lasted weeks, where we had to melt snow because the wellhouse pump had frozen. We got rides to town for groceries because we didn't have a truck with 4 wheel drive and upon arrival there wasn’t much left, isles bare. The years have changed the island’s inhabitants, but the simple truth is that we all weather the same storms here. It reminds me that it still matters that you know your neighbors here.

When the lakes freeze over and the nights ski are clear it quiets the island in a peaceful indescribable

way. I am grateful in the last few days that my chickens have their coop freshly cleaned with new dry shavings and my pony is tucked into her shelter munching hay and deciding if she wants to venture out or stay in for the day. She always ventures out and I watch her from the window, the warmth of the house embracing me.

My inspiration in these moments always comes from what we have in the pantry. I love to bake through these storms. I also love to make stews that take all day on the stove and light candles as the evening grows dark. Eddie loves to confirm the porch is loaded with firewood - you never really know how long these storms might actually last. Angus our black lab runs in and out of the house following anyone who is willing to play with him. Angus knows only that his routine has changed and its reason enough for excitement. Molina is quietly tucked up in a nook in the attic reading a book. As the darkness creeps in at the end of the day we gather around the table, candles lit, a lively tune in the background and we enjoy this much needed respite from the world.

Since we are closed at Olga Rising I am grateful that I don’t have to ask any of my staff to risk driving to work these past few days. The weight of that responsibility is lifted, though we have no snow - driving in the dark with fallen trees, wind and possible ice is always concerning. In 2022 when we got that snow right before Christmas (photo above is from that snow storm) we had islanders venture out and many gathered inside Olga Rising, which is tiny. They spoke of their trials and tribulations regarding the storm. The roads being the center of conversation. The windows steamed up so you could not see the snow continuing to come down. They continued to talk as people trickled in. It got even tighter, but everyone made room as they held their coffee up to their chins so they wouldn’t get bumped and spill their drinks. Twenty-three years have passed since I sat in Teezer's (a small cafe in Eastsound) and remembered hearing the same stories and concerns. Twenty-three years and so much has changed and yet in these moments you realize, so much has stayed the same. Their voices carry and I hear that the roads are still bad, the snow plows are prioritizing the ferry to town road, and there is a gratitude for firewood. Lastly we all hope the power doesn’t go out with this wind coming in.

All the technology, all the things that have developed in the last twenty three years that have made it hard to connect to each other and we are still talking about the same concerns. We still are gathered up connecting to each other, talking to people we have seen dozens of times but never spoken to.

As I add a little more seasoning to the stew that is bubbling on my stove I am grateful to weather these storms here on this island. I am grateful Eddie & I found a way to make a living and a life here doing what we love to do. My soul misses the chatter and connection that Olga Rising offers, to witness these special moments that we all take for granted. What outweighs that though is knowing that my staff is warmly tucked away in their houses most likely doing the same thing that I am.

The years have changed the island’s inhabitants, but the simple truth is that we all weather the same storms here. These storms decades later still unite the island.


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