Foggy Dawn

Thursday 2010 10 21

Dawn light gathered to reveal – not much of anything. Overnight fog had crept north from the Straight of Juan de Fuca through Cattle Pass and into San Juan Channel, between Lopez and San Juan Islands. Orcas wasn’t visible, nor Bell Island; morning with a 100′ depth of field. No matter; by noon the fog would be gone and we didn’t have to go anywhere until then.

At the top of the driveway, at Eagle Lane, the bigleaf maple had shed most of its leaves, now a yellow and brown carpet over the gravel, marked with channels from a September downpour. Last fall Yvonne raked the leaves off the lane for the compost pile because left where they lay autumn rains would make them a slippery mess, a real problem three years ago when I tried to get the UHaul truck out the January day we moved in.

Fog bound, somewhere between Bell Island and the southeast corner of Crane, as it headed for Wasp Passage and Friday Harbor, moving but invisible, the Yakima, a big green and white Washington State Ferry, sounded its horn in warning and then again.

Just passed the Community Center on Circle Road, going uphill, I could see the level indicator on the island’s 35,000 gallon concrete water tank. Ten feet again today. No evident problems, small background leaks and regular usage from the three currently occupied houses on the island.

Near Nelsen’s driveway on Circle Road, I came upon Wilma Seale waiting for husband Gary, on his way in a slow-going tracked power shovel he would use to lift a new fiberglass septic tank off the truck Wilma had driven to that point and then dig out the 40 years-old failing tank and replace it with the new one.

We talked about heating systems – they just had just poured a concrete floor over tubing they would circulate hot water through to warm their new barn. One hour a day in four 15 minute periods would keep the barn at 55 degrees – a good temperature for working and keeping the place dry.

Gary came up soon in the power shovel and we talked briefly about the two hydrants he needed to install – on Eagle Lane and on Sunnyside – as well as the coliform and cross-connect plans we owed the county. With the power shovel on the island, Gary thought it would make sense to excavate a trench from well-house 6 uphill to the tank so he could lay cable to connect a float switch in the tank to pump timers in well houses 6 and 5. Unexpected heavy water use on a weekend last spring (many visitors) had caused the tank level to drop to its 7 ½ foot fire reserve. With no water flowing out of the tank, houses at the highest point in the system would run out of water first. Thus the Fawkes, up from Seattle to enjoy the weekend at their Crane house lost water and had to leave the island sooner than planned. Unacceptable.

Gary is water manager – the home owners association hires him to oversee the system and make required reports. I’m the board member responsible for the water system. Having a tank float wired to the timers in the two nearby and most productive wells meant that Gary could set the timers to pump aggressively but when the tank level exceeded 14 feet, the top, the pump would be shut off, overriding the timers. At times of high use, with the tank level falling, the pumps would not be interrupted and the system could work to bring the system back to its full level.

Between Gulf Lane and Sunnyside Lane, I spied a black beetle with a brown abdomen moving around in the gravel and pine needles littering Circle Road. I often see these beetles, usually it seems, making a beeline to cross the road – to get to the other side, I suppose. This one moved randomly, looking for slugs to eat perhaps. But every so often it would fall over to its left. How peculiar. A six-legged creature should do better than that. I looked closer; only two legs, front and rear on its left side. What was the story behind that amputation or birth defect?

Condensing fog reveals web and weaver
Condensing fog reveals web and weaver

Heading home after walking a two-mile circle. At the community dock I started across Loch’s meadow, everything coated with a very fine dew left by the fog. As I had seen many times before, the tiny droplets made visible usually hard-to-see spider webs strung between the tall standing drying grass stems. The higher, bigger webs were systematic and elegant, usually with the weaver positioned right at the center so as to feel any tugs on the web from potential-meal visitors. By number, most of the webs were small, close to the ground, irregular, with denser stitching and with no weaver visible. Same goal; different technique.

The fog hides and the fog reveals. It depends on what you’re looking for. The fog creates a quiet, hushed, peaceful place but it also causes those moving in it to speak in rich tones, sounds when vision fails.

There’s the “Ashenhurst” sign Yvonne wood burned on a piece of driftwood, pointing through a copse of salal and small fir to the path to Yvonne’s bamboo north gate and home. Looking forward to a hot cup of English breakfast tea.

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