By Teresa Smith
I like to tease my sisters who live in Ontario and Alberta. They tell me it is unbearably hot this summer. “It is hot here too,” I say, “75 degrees, and no relief in sight.”
We get the boat in the water early morning when Griffin Bay is calm and looks like glass. Come back in with a quota of five crabs. There is a family of children and grandma fishing for minnows off the dock. Giggles, flip-flops, and memories of a cottage in Quebec long ago, and a minnow net that my father made for me.
Summer on San Juan Island is about morning rides on my horse when the dew is still on the grass from early fog that settles into the valley overnight. There is complete utter silence this time of day. A doe lifts her head to look at me as her dappled fawn hops over close to Mama. I see a fox up ahead on the trail. Back at the barn, one fat barn swallow won’t leave the nest. Parents keep bringing food and more food. I am pretty sure he is too fat to fly.
Low tide in the summer is my favorite. I take off my shoes and walkway out at False Bay. Warm salt water on my feet. Dogs love to lope along and splash through the tepid pools. Clouds of birds shifting with the tides. Seagulls and sandpipers run in and run out with the waves. I am mesmerized as I watch. Tide pools full of tiny crabs, limpets, sea anemones and chiton. Especially low tide close to full moon and summer solstice reveal sun stars and purple stars, and once in a great lucky while an octopus.
The tractor showed up today and is cutting the hay. The smell is intoxicating. Reminds me of my first pony, Penny, and the smell of fresh hay that my dad and I stacked next to her stall. With the grass cut, the dogs and I can walk to the pond again. It has been 4 feet tall and quite a trek to get down the hill. The farmer will be turning the cut hay into huge round bails. Such a majestic sight out the front window. I am always sad when they come and take the bales away in the fall.
I go into town midday for the first time in awhile. Things are quite different here in summer. I have to walk two blocks to get to the gym. What an inconvenience. I never turn left on Spring Street any time of the year, but this is beyond turning left. It is gridlock. The ferry is unloading and someone is waiting for a parking space, holding up traffic all the way to the boat. Are you kidding me?
Nighttime and nightlife is quite different in summer vs winter. I go out with my girlfriend on Friday night. It is an adventure. So many people having a blast in a new port. Interesting stories to tell when I get home. Not many familiar faces. I think I prefer winter, where the place may seem bereft of life, but it is more about connecting with friends than a rowdy party.
This time of the year in the San Juans is pure magic. There is a sparkle that I don’t see anywhere else. A sparkle in the landscape and a sparkle in the people. Summer days are long long long. The garden is abundant, people are happy, birds are singing and it is 75 degrees.