During my stay in Seattle this past week, a dear friend and I visited Vashon, an island located about 30 minutes offshore from the city, in the waters of Puget Sound. Riding the ferry through the morning mist, there was magic in the air and in the wind, as it blew brisk across our skin, opening our eyes wide and clearing our minds. The sun glowed from behind a thin veil of clouds, illuminating a pathway directly toward us across the surface of the water. We were the only souls standing up there at the bow of the boat, and for that time it felt as if we were the only ones alive.
There is reference to Vashon being the “Heart of the Sound.” Within minutes of touching ground, it became clear why. The island and its people beat at a slow and steady pace, with a natural peace and prettiness that feels worlds away from the trappings of the city. It is a place where fields of golden grass meet with the majesty of redwood trees; where sheep graze in pastoral fields while orca whales grace the surrounding sea.
Upon recommendation from one of the islanders, we stopped in at the local roasterie, considered to be the “Center” of the island – the spot where the town of Vashon originated.
In addition to a coffee roasterie, this charming old building, established in 1888, houses a café, an organic health food store, a gift shop, a used book store, and plenty of antiques to admire. All key ingredients to living a good life.
We stayed for quite some time, enjoying the environment and catching up over coffee and pastries. There is a beauty in spaces where people can sit and think together, discussing ideas, sharing dreams, and intermittently drifting off to put one’s head in a book, do some journal writing, or quietly gaze out the window at the people passing by.
There is also a beauty in towns where all one need do is step out the door to find edible gardens growing along sidewalks, herbs to wildcraft in roadside ditches, and the green earth breaking through cracks in the pavement.
There were thickets of plants more dense than any I had ever seen. One could dive in and become lost in all of the green.
After visiting the town cemetery, then having a delicious late brunch at a restaurant called “The Hardware Store” (which, as the name suggests, was once a hardware store and, at 121 years old, marks the oldest commercial building on the island), we made our way back to the terminal to catch the ferry back to West Seattle. We drove slow, remarking on each quaint old house that caught our eye, fantasizing about how absolutely lovely it would be to live there someday. Such is the nature of magical places – there is that feeling of never wanting to leave, of planning to return, and of knowing you will continue to carry the spirit of the place with you into future dreams.