“I have Looked into the Eye of this Island and what I Saw was Beautiful.”

For the past six months or so, our family weekend excursions have been a variation on the theme: Effort to provide everyone with fun ends with bedraggled members grumping back home after an outing that couldn’t have been more torturous if we had tried. In addition, our “Bippety Boppety Boo” has been off, and if there’s a logistical element that can get in the way…say, oh, timing our adventure before the arrival of nap time…it does, and the whole experience goes “SPROING”. Life has felt like an antique, cartoon clock, whose springs and mechanical bits explode every time we try to wind it.

The winds of change, however, are blowing through our lives. Is it because of planetary alignment? New magical methods of parenting? Stepping into the flow of the Tao and reaping the synchronicity that comes floating by?

Or is it the passage of time? Specifically, the passage of that period of time from 18mos to 24mos, a phase that feels equivalent to some point in adolescence. Whatever threshold Fern was navigating from baby to toddler has been successfully passed through, and while I don’t think this will have any bearing on the shape and form of tantrums, it does seem to mean that I come out of a weekend saying, “That was great! Let’s do that again!”. And whoa nelly, let me tell you, it feels like a bright new world.

Sunday morning, while Jeff went to pick up Leonidas, I fished around on the internet for something to do, and came across A Victorian Christmas at Angel Island State Park.

I have never been to Angel Island, as it does not allow dogs, and this is the first time I have been sans dog in 8 years. It was a bittersweet moment, realizing we could go. Another step on this journey of my New Life Without Leo.

Jeff returned home, and we looked at the clock. Getting to the island requires taking a submarine and a sedative taking a ferry from Tiburon in the North Bay. If we get in the car right now, hit all the lights and step on the gas…we can make it. Feeling brave and lucky, we decided to go for it. I continued to feel lucky until Jeff, who was driving, didn’t believe me when I said we should take the Tiburon exit, not the Larkspur Landing, where the other ferries were. Usually annoyed by the iphone, this time it provided just the right amount of righteousness. Which wasn’t very satisfying because by the time we turned around, we had 10 minutes until the ferry departed and we were 15 minutes away.

But oh those winds of change! We zipped through downtown! I leapt out of the car at the terminal and sprinted to the gate, just as the last of the line was going through! Jeff arrived with the kids! We didn’t have cash! The ticket booth stalled the boat, “They need an ATM machine!”. We procured cash! And toot toot! We made it!

Do I look stoked, or what?

Our two little niblets still mostly do parallel play, but moments like this make me melt.

The boat ride was thankfully only 10 minutes (I do not have sea legs) and as we approached the dock, I felt a little like John Locke a Coast Miwok, about to set foot on the promised land. I will admit I kept half expecting to hear the sound of clanking gears and chains, and to see the occasional tree get ripped up from the hillside. (There are about 5 of you who are getting these jokes. You’re welcome.).

It was already such a good time!

There was a slightly unfortunate realization that getting to our event meant hiking 1/4 of the way around the island. Uphill. But what’s that on the breeze? Ah…it smells like change…. It also smells like bribery, since we knew that the event was serving hot apple cider and cookies. Fern could be heard chanting all across the island, “Hot cookies! Hot cookies!”.

The top of each incline rewarded us with another vista.

Mt. Tam across the Bay.

At the top, Leo had the excellent, albeit odd, request to “stop and climb for a bit”. Isn’t that what we were just doing?

Ah, but there’s a Trudging Kind of Climbing and then there’s an Exploring Kind of Climbing. Especially when there are good sticks to be found and a soft forest floor.

She insists on taking her shoes off in nature. That’s my girl.

I could have spent all day exploring right here.

But before we knew it, and with nary a tear, we had arrived at our destination. Camp Reynolds. Otherwise known as My New House.

My New Bedroom.

Right next to My New House was the bake house, where there were tables set up for ornament making, there were cookies in the brick oven, butter churning on a counter and the ambiance of my dreams. (Hey family, the kitchen was so reminiscent of Aunt Marion’s Camp kitchen that I was transported.).

I might not be in the majority, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who swoons at this kind of stuff.

There were the typical types of crafts…popcorn and cranberries, clove oranges, and then this:

I have yet to try, but I think we all should.

They also had the tops of tin cans to decorate, tin lantern style. I definitely will be doing this at home.

I even wore a really good outfit.

My new favorite little gingham dress: thrifted. Slip thrifted. Sweater, street find. Socks, Target.

And now, it’s time to go back to My New House.

Hello, Angel Island? Our local native tribes called. They’d like their artifacts back.

My New Wardrobe.

My New House comes with a Grumpy Porch Man who plays the Hurdy Gurdy and scared the bejeezus out of Fern.

There were many haggard Monarch Butterflies in the tree tops around the island. I whispered a wish to get a photo up-close. This sweet bedraggled one obliged, alighting right next to the Mean Music Man.

Our revelry was interrupted by the realization that we had 1/2 hour to book it back to the dock.

But of course we made it. It’s a brand new world!

Goodbye Angel Island. “We’ve go to go back!” We can’t wait to come back.

Despite my protestations, I do frequently feel grateful for the beautiful city in which we live. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t want to live in a city, but if I have to, San Francisco is the best there is.

Happy Monday! (And it really is!)


9 thoughts on ““I have Looked into the Eye of this Island and what I Saw was Beautiful.”

  1. yup, sf is the best city on this earth. mostly because it’s nestled in such a beautiful spot. enjoy this little blurb of peaceful travels. fern will turn three soon and you’ll want to send her to boarding school *wink*. it’s all lies that they tell you about two year olds. it’s three year olds that are the ones to worry about. good thing she is as cute as a button. i love a girl who hates shoes.

  2. As with all your posts, there is so much to love here. Your new house, with it’s multitude of treasures. And grumpy old men. The joy of the little blonde folk in roaming around together. The radiating delight of your little family on an adventure. Angel Island itself-what a refuge. It reminds me a little of this island outside my hometown: http://www.suomenlinna.fi/en/

    As I’ve mentioned before, it’s always such a joy to see your pretty face and I for one am fascinated with these glimpses into your wardrobe. Just sayin’ to keep it coming.

    I’m happy to see this joy and delight in your life, especially when it comes to your current location. It has been a hard year and you are evaluating what you want out this life, but it’s so fun to just rejoice where you are right now. Someday it’ll be something to share with the grandkids at your country cabin 😉

    Happy Monday!

  3. Things I love about today’s post:
    The photo of Fern with fists under chin.
    Your amazing outfit.
    Hot cookies.
    The hurdy gurdy.
    The hanky mouse.
    Remembering how much I miss that epic show.

  4. Glad you had a great time! It looks like an amazing place. I know my boys would love to ride the ferry. At times I miss the city, but I do so love our little farmhouse in the country. You just bloom where you’re planted (at the time). All good things are worth the wait and you all will find your perfect place. But right now, you got it good, love! I’m happy you are finding joy and wonder in the everyday blessings. Peace, love and light.

  5. I am so glad for you!!!!!!!!!!This does look gorgeous. I titally get your new house, its lovely, wardrobe and all.
    I remember the relief of those days that flowed and all went well. when M was that young. They do like getting their feet stuck in to nature, and great for getting you off the beaten path. May there be many more such days for a country girl in the beautiful city.
    Fern is amazing, and love both your dresses: ) xx

  6. what a fantastic outing! it’s so nice when a day works out so well. no fighting, crying, meltdowns.

    your “new house” is awesome! i so wish i could spend some time cooking in a kitchen like that.

    love the outfit and the beautiful pictures!

  7. “Hot cookies! Hot cookies!” Aw, now that sounds like a girl after my own heart 🙂

    I’ve never been to Angel Island either and this sounds like such a fun way to experience it. I think we’ll have to try and make it out to this next year.

    Hooray! Hooray! for Fern turning her corner, just when you think you can’t take it anymore they finally have a breakthrough, and isn’t it just the best feeling?! It really is like a whole new world opening up.

    Of course then it eventually goes the other way. Just when you get used to your new and improved situation they start to turn some other developmental corner bringing with it a whole slough of new challenges. It’s an ongoing cycle, and yes, as Brigit said, SOAK IT UP, because as much as I hate to have to back her up on this one, it’s true, BEWARE AGE THREE, no joke, and it too will feel never-ending, but we’re here to tell you that you will make it through, and there will be a delightful four-year-old waiting for you when you do 🙂

    p.s. I too love the peeks at your adorable outfit stylings AND I’ve been meaning to go back to your post about schooling because it’s something we’ve been thinking about lately, so hopefully I will get it together and do that soon. Bedtime!

    1. first off, to brigit and missa…ooooo, i know about age 3! i was a nanny for years, and so many times i thought, “why do they call it the terrible twos? it’s really the terrible threes”….but isn’t it funny that you rarely hear that? i have to admit, i was hoping we would somehow skirt it, but i’ll take your words to heart and enjoy this bubble while we can!

      and yes please missa, i truly want to hear your thoughts about schooling. my process around it is still evolving, but i will do another post about it shortly. i especially would like to know of your experience in the north bay, and what you have sorted out thus far. xoxoxxoo

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