seven days on savary


we went away for two weeks and came back and it was winter. i saw a friend this week that i hadn’t seen since july because she left for a month and then we left for those two weeks, and because the weather changed so abruptly from hot sun and dry moss to days of downpours and lingering fogs and light beads dripping off fir limbs, when i saw her i said: “did you have a good…what was it? summer?” it felt completely abnormal to ask how her summer was, like it was already half a year away. but then we went for a walk today in the post-rain and had to strip down to t-shirts, so there is still that remaining warmth that reminds us: not yet. 

vi and carly had another sunday brunch today at the hall, where the men played their music, and good food and conversation was had by all. it was a delicious cozy feeling of good company, good food, warmth inside and out, smiles all around, people you haven’t seen in awhile. a knitting back together inside, with a fire.

i kind of like that the weather changed while we were away from home, it makes the return home feel like the beginning of a new chapter, a turning page into the routines of fall.

the away we went to was savary island, a place where john spent his youthful summers, but was completely new to me. our original plan was to row from home, with an electric trolling motor for back up. but three days before we planned to leave, john broke his wrist while we were beachcombing one night: the peavey he was using slammed into his wrist as we were rolling an uneven log. however with johns VERY high pain tolerance and subdued reactions to being injured, i was so sure his wrist wasn’t even broken! he went over to get it xrayed the next day and turned out it was actually broken in two places. he returned home with a cast and we revised our trip plans. we decided to drive to lund, the closest mainland point to savary, and we borrowed a canoe from our friends who also had the perfect thing for us: a hand-crank trolling motor. with savary being only a km from shore at its closest point, i figured i could just paddle us over there, but i was sure glad we had the motor in the end, because we didn’t account for the current and wind, which ended up pushing us to the furthest end of savary, 7km away. ha ha. i couldn’t have paddled us there solo, but it worked out fine because john could use his good arm to crank while i paddled in the front.

savary was a bunch of wonders. the majority of the island was divided up into small city-sized lots in the early 1900’s, but when john spent most of his time there 40+ years ago he had no idea of that because only the eastern and western tips had been developed. he and his friends would spend their days wandering over the island, with no known borders blocking their way. returning now he was astonished to see all the houses that had sprung up everywhere, but also the SIZE of many of the houses. to me who had never been there, i just loved the place. there were some maps in the friends cabin we stayed in, that we used to help us in our explorations. the first settlers who built and lived there paid no mind to where roads were supposed to be according to the lots that had been divided, so as we referred to these maps i found it delightful that the roads dipped in and out of where i expected they should be. despite the whole island being divided up, other than the central area of the dunes that was saved and preserved a couple of years ago, it didn’t mean that there were houses on all of those lots. indeed a lot of the island is still mainly treed, and the lots that have been built on also still have a lot of trees. the joy of the city sized lots for me was that it meant i got to check out cute quirky house after cute quirky house. they were all lined up for my spectating pleasure! so many tiny cabins, so much fun design. one of the ones near the end of the island had me dreaming of a winter spent there writing and reading and gazing out to the stormy sea from my clifftop. 

we didn’t intend to stay on savary as long as we did. we had some friends with a cabin in desolation sound that we wanted to spend half of our time at, but due to the vagaries of the weather we ended up stuck on savary. what this meant was that half of our food was in the car back in lund, so we had to get creative. on one of our many bike rides across the island, we discovered a MASSIVE chicken of the woods* patch on a douglas fir stump. (a short aside on our ramblings. i loved the limitations of this island, it is about 7km long and 1km at its widest, which makes it just the perfect manageable distance for day long rambles or bike rides. we would pick one section of the island to explore every day and head out either on wheels or on foot. i imagined it would be a marvellous place to spend ones summer youth because you couldn’t get lost, but still had such a large area to explore.) so we gathered up several choice specimens and john scored a tomato and some rosemary and some leaves of kale from a garden left for the season. to finish off our dinner we went out digging for manila and butter clams in the islands extensive shellfish beds. that night from our mainly foraged fare we had a hot chowder of sautéed chicken of the woods in onions and garlic, bladderwrack, clams, fresh parsley and rosemary, a sprig of kale, some grape leaves, white rice, coconut milk and an hors d’oeuvre of tomato with salt and olive oil. yuuuuuuuum.

the thing that got john the most about our trip was savarys shores lined with prime beachcombing specimens. since savarys sandy shores extend far out into somewhat shallow water even at high tides, with random rocks strewn here and there, it doesn’t make for the easiest beachcombing. and given that savarys longest side faces the prevailing southeasterly winds, it is the perfect location for driftwood to blow in.

when we were finally able to leave savary, we made it back to mainland shores in 2 hours and 20 minutes, 40 minutes less than it took us to get there, now that we were a little more current savvy. our next destination would be attainable that day weatherwise, it was about a 5km paddle out into the okeover arm, but consulting with locals and the weather station, it seemed unlikely we’d be able to get back within our time limit, so we forewent that part of our plans. this meant we were able to spend more time visiting friends and scrap yards on the way home. my two greatest scores were a 20$, 18ft aluminum extension ladder, and an insulated section of stovepipe for free!

arriving home i’ve settled back into moving lumber, making stickers and stacking while the rain keeps falling. it is feeling satisfying to get the lumber out of the rain, but i should probably focus on splitting all the firewood that is sitting out in the rain too. 


*apparently the chicken of the woods we ate was most likely laetiporus conifericola since it was growing on a coniferous stump. research told us to use even more caution with this coniferous grown variety than l. sulphureus, several sites stating that it was poisonous. i recalled having eaten it the summer before to no ill-effect, but we both did try small amounts and waited at least an hour before chowing down. we were both fine.

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