Home Again | The old red cabin on Camano Island

By Joanne Peterson | Jul 28, 2016

On Saturday, I decided on impulse to drive north to Camano Island, where I spent sweet childhood days with my maternal grandparents. I wanted to drive by their old red cabin again – though it was a disappointing cantaloupe shade when I drove past several years ago!

Exiting the freeway, I chose the curvy back road through Silvana to Stanwood; from Stanwood, a bridge connects Camano to the mainland. Much of the Silvana area has retained the fresh green charm of the days when my dad sometimes chose that route, mostly to please his young daughter.

Driving through Silvana with my dad, I once noticed a quick flash of color along the roadside and saw a small red fox trotting toward us. My dad pulled over, and we watched, speechless, as the fox trotted past us. What a splendid sight!

As an adult, I’ve written that red fox into poetry and prose and probably will again. I never will forget that indelible moment.

On Saturday, no fox appeared along the Silvana roadway. A stop at Willow and Jim’s Country Café –popular with Silvana locals and visitors alike – provided a welcome break and tasty lunch. Then I drove on through Stanwood and over the bridge to Camano, increasingly eager to see my grandparents’ cabin – and, just next door, the house my parents designed for their retirement.

Of course, my grandparents have been gone for many decades, their cabin changing owners more than once. And my parents’ retirement house? They owned their cozy home next to my grandparents’ cabin too short a time before returning to Edmonds for health reasons.

Sometimes those years brought sorrow.

My grandparents’ years on Camano Island mostly provided pure pleasure, though – for them and for any family members who lived close enough to visit. I was the lucky child who spent summer days and weeks with my grandparents. My family often spent weekends and holidays at the Camano cabin.

When I drove up that familiar country road Saturday, the years dropped away. For one piercing moment, I expected to see the barn-red cabin on my right, with its dormer windows upstairs and the wooden Dutch door that my father designed when he and my grandfather built the cabin together.

I could envision the chicken house and the raspberry patch. The goat barn. The clothesline and the badminton net. The red pump at the well – and a deer at the edge of the woods.

Nearly to the cabin, I stopped and looked left to the broad familiar view: salt water and an occasional boat, probably locals or summer people checking crab traps or taking grandkids for a row. No yachts, no sails, no sign that anything had changed since I was a girl. In the blue distance, Oak Harbor.

I drove a few yards further, stopped and looked to the right: My grandparents’ old home-painted red again! A woman stood in front of the cabin. I stepped from the car and called out, “Do you live here?” (More in two weeks.)


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