When I was a girl I spent weeks with my Mom’s Mom at her house on the beach. She was known to all eight grandkids as Gran and she lived in Hemlock Cottage, so named for the hemlock lumber that it was built from. It was a cozy cabin with a large sleeping porch hanging over the hillside above the beach near Three Tree Point. Gran’s father, my great-grandfather, Edward Verd built the house in 1905, made from hemlock as a demonstration to prove to the naysayers of the longevity of hemlock as a building timber. My great-grandfather was a lumberman and president of the Bryant Lumber Mill located in Fremont, near Seattle. He would commute to Three Tree on weekends, where his wife, Mumsie, and their two kids Erma (my Gran), and Wes spent the days enjoying their life at the beach.
Where am I going with this history lesson? Well, I intended to talk about my days at Three Tree, but when I think of those days, I also am reminded of the stories of Gran as a girl paddling her canoe out to ride the freighter waves while Mumsie watched anxiously from the porch, or the stories of my own Mom and her two sisters having marshmallow fights on the beach with Gran and Grandpa Dick trying to keep the peace. The eight grandchildren of my generation also spent many happy days building rafts, fishing from the rowboat, or just being kids on a beach. My son Kyle had happy times there too, and now there are new generations of cousins at Three Tree.
As the youngest of three kids, I was with Gran quite often while my older brother and sister were in school and my Mom was at work. It was fine with me! Gran and I spent our days walking up the beach and back home via the Indian path picking thimbleberries and blackberries, or for a change we’d walk up the path and back down the beach. If the tide was out we might try to walk all the way around the point, but if the tide was in we’d just go as far as we could, then turn around and head home. We’d pick up armfuls of bark that was in constant supply from all the logging barges that went by the point and when we burned it in our morning fires, the flames were full of blues and greens from the salt. Gran made blackberry pie or Swedish pancakes, and we’d spend hours reading while sitting on the porch listening to the waves. I have great memories of those times.
Whenever we walked on the beach we looked for agates. Gran was well-practiced and never seemed to get skunked like I did. She could see a tiny gleam in the layers of beach sand and pebbles and come up with an agate in her hand every time. I would forever pick up pretty rocks and take them to Gran and ask “is this one?”, only to have her say, “well, it’s almost an agate – throw it back and pretty soon it will be”. Anyone who knows geology knows that agates don’t “become” agates from rocks; they are either agates or not, but I came to believe that agates were a work in process. So I kept trying, kept asking, and kept tossing back the “almost agates”.
Yesterday Marty and I sailed the 20 miles from Caleta Partida to Isla San Francisco. After a perfect day of sailing with following winds and seas, we anchored off one of our favorite beaches. Today we went for a walk across the narrow isthmus on Isla San Francisco, across the salt ponds and barren fields to the beach on the north side of the island. The two beaches are quite different; the north side is full of green and red rocks, and has coarse colorful sand while the South side where we’re anchored is a long white sandy beach full of shells. And the one major difference is that the north side is full of agates.
From what I remember reading, agates were formed from pockets of water getting trapped in the porous rock eons and eons ago. These volcanic islands have lots of holes and crazy striations of different colors of rock, so it’s easy to see how the agates would have been created back when the islands were still “under construction”. I’m sure a true geologist would be cringing at my less than scientific descriptions, but until I get back to a place where I can google this, I’m open to corrections!
Now back to current history, today’s island adventure and the reason for this long-winded blog. Today when Marty and I were walking on the beach on Isla San Francisco, Marty handed me a rock and asked; “is this one?” I laughed along with Gran and said, “it’s an almost agate! Toss it back and we’ll pick it up next year.” Needless to say, we kept on walking and ended up with a handful of treasures. Agates and memories, new ones and old ones; I’m a lucky girl.