Saturday, June 11, 2005
I am not going to have the links up to date for a while, so please navigate within the story blogs by using the monthly archives. Thank you, and visit again soon.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
"Yeah, well, at the time, we decided that the larger ruins were an old, partially fortified settlement. A settlement that probably failed because of the rocky soil and the bad storms. Apparently it was one of those bad storms that did in the lighthouse and further crumbled some of the downed walls of the settlement ruins.”
“Check out this picture, Dana” Ross said, holding it out to Dana. He had been peeking ahead at the pile of items in the folder that Rheta had laid on the table between them. “Oh, look, there are more. And a stamp. I don’t recall that you got so into the terns, Rheta.”
“These aren’t all from when we were kids. I sort of collected these as I came across them over the years. I like this one best, because it is most successful at showing the rose color on the neck,” Rheta said, holding up one of the Audubon prints. “The part I didn’t like about Audubon’s paintings is that he killed 38 terns before he made the painting. What a jerk. I don’t even believe in killing one of them, but thirty-eight? Was that really necessary? No wonder they’re endangered.”
“I don’t think Audubon himself is solely responsible for their status, Rhee,” Ross said. He sounded fond to Dana, rather than critical. Maybe she should forget this project and head to Idaho and study the wild horses instead. That had been one of her other ideas. Why was she feeling so jealous of this one night stand?
Monday, June 06, 2005
“If I remember right, you told me is was part of the PSSC Physics and Calculus deal with Gary, some sort of thank you for all his help, and that you hoped I’d understand because you’d love to go with me. Of course, I thought you were shrugging me off and didn’t like me.”
“I thought you liked Ami and Dorothy anyway.”
“I thought Ami was going with Billy Owens. Then I heard Dorothy was going with Billy Owens. I always thought you were cute. I asked you because I liked you.”
“Our mutual admiration society probably isn’t much fun for Dana.”
Dana was staring at the map Rheta had made of Little Hog Island, doing her best to ignore Rheta and Ross. She did get jealous easily and she felt as if Rheta were trying to horn in on her territory with Ross. But Ross had made no promises to her. She looked back at the map. “What’s this?” She asked, pointing.
“It’s a first people’s shell midden,” Rheta said. “And there were some projectile points there, too. I didn’t know what it was when I drew it; I just copied it off the old map. But someone before us had discovered a first people’s campsite, located right near the settlement.”
Sunday, June 05, 2005
“I’ll show you what I’ve got handy, and maybe later dig out some more. I happened across a few of these when I was cleaning out my hope chest. I’m not sure exactly what I was hoping for when I stuck these in there, Buck. And yes, somewhere I have notes on the terns, although that part wasn’t my project—and I have some of Buck’s notes.”
I got a copy of the topo maps of the area at the library, but the details aren’t too clear because the scale is too small. It shows the ruins I drew yesterday as buildings and also some (other) ruins we haven’t seen. I rowed out alone to look and see if they are still there—I wanted to be the first person to find them if they were. Guess what—they are. So I’m going to get to tell everyone what I found. I don’t know why we never looked at the maps first. I guess that’s why we have teachers—to help us learn stuff. Only this stuff is more interesting than what we usually learn at school.
The new ruins, new to us and perhaps also newer in construction time, are higher on the hill and are constructed of different materials than the old ones. The woods are thinner there, and the ground underneath is rockier. A mostly solid hump of what I think is granite, like everything else. (I took a rock sample to find out.) One of them is an old lighthouse, I think. It’s round and made of stuff that looks a lot like the
I gotta work on that map for R. He showed me a way to measure the elevation so that I could make topo map lines between the ones show on the big map—he wants me to make more of them closer together to show the lay of the land and the shape of the hill. I guess I’ll try to draw (copy) the original topo map first, only make it a little bigger. I won’t put all those details in; that would take forever.
Meanwhile, while I am writing these words, I can’t stop thinking of Rude and
Saturday, June 04, 2005
“I’d forgotten that you had a crush on me, Rheta. What a dolt I was, sorry,” Ross said.
“Now I am jealous. Did you take the tent because you were jealous of my being with Ross?” Dana asked.
“Ross, who’s Ross?”
“Buck. Are you still in love with Buck?”
“Ross, huh? Kind of suits him. I think he’s pretty cute, yes. But I took the tent because Garrett called and said Wendy had left her tent at her campsite and would I pick it up for her. He said he’d explain later. If you hadn’t run into me taking pictures of those starry false Solomon’s seals, I would never have known I was being used that way. I’m sorry.”
“Wendy? This is getting way too complicated. Was Wendy one of your friends?”
“No, my middle daughter.”
“You weren’t writing to her in high school, were you?”
“No, that was Peter Pan’s Wendy, left from when I was a kid. I liked the idea of never growing up. From my vantage point at the time, grown-ups didn’t seem to be very happy. All they did was work; they never got to play. They always had to worry about money. So Wendy was like my alter ego. I was writing to my child self, I guess. Sort of. And I named my daughter after her, because she’d been so important to me as a child and a teen. But the terrible irony is that we do need to grow up, and my daughter Wendy has real issues assuming the mantle of adulthood. I wish I had named her something else. I’m not sure what. Every name seems to have some baggage attached to it. Like Darcy. I almost named her Darcy, but I was afraid she’s be murdered like Darcy Farrow.”
“I’m sorry about your daughter Wendy, Rheta. I don’t know much about it, but I hope she is able to be successful integrating into adulthood. And that she can retain a childlike sense of wonder. And I am glad I got my tent back. Do you have more notes from your high school project?”
“I think Wendy will always have a sense of wonder, which is good. I saved all the high school project stuff from Little Hog Island. Some of it is in the file here. Other stuff is in the attic.”
“Could we see some of it? Do you have any notes on the terns?”
Friday, June 03, 2005
Rhee's first map of the dunes. Not included is this notation to "Wendy:" I had drawn a heart with a cupid arrow through it and my intials and Rude's and then realized Rude would see my map and so would all the others and Mr. R. Wadsworth, so I tried to erase it. It didn't completely erase hope no one sees it. Look top right under "hole in roof." (It says RW + RS! Shhh!)
I’m going to tell you about the ruins on
Anyway, I’m getting off the topic, as usual, and into my favorite topic, which is boys. Boys boys boys. I’d like to kiss them all.
Well, not all of them, I wouldn’t want to kiss Clifford Masman. He’s so fat. Mom says I should like him anyway. He’s okay, but I really can’t get past his fat even though I know I should. Or Karl Heney, he’s such a creep, and he smells bad. I mean I’d kiss any of my boys. Rude, Glenn, Gary, Billy or Harlan Hardan. He’s pretty cute, too.
Darn it, there I go again. I’m supposed to be talking about the ruins. They are all made of rock, rock from Little Hog Island. Whoever made them spent a lot of time fitting them together very carefully. The walls that are still standing are thick and strong and secure. Well-built and stable. The ones that are collapsed probably did not fall down by themselves. That’s my opinion. I think something happened to them and I am actually interested to find out what. Wouldn’t Papa be surprised to hear me say I am interested in learning something related to school? He thinks all I want to do is talk on the phone and go to school dances and drink soda and eat brownies, but he’s wrong. It’s so annoying when grownups think they know what you’re thinking and they don’t.
I am going to drawn a map of the ruins. I wish I could climb up on something really high and take a picture, but the highest thing is the ruins themselves. Well, some of the trees around them are higher, but I can’t get up in them to get above the ruins, so let me try to draw them. Your friend forever, Rhee
PS: Billy and Gary have both taken to calling me Rhee, and I like it. Rude sometimes calls me Rhee-rhee. He says it in a special voice and it gives me the shivers.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
She yanked desperately, pulled and tugged. At last the zipper moved an inch or two. She stuck her hands the hole and pulled them apart. Finally the door opened. She dove through and up, breaking the surface, gasping for air, and then turned to help pull the door opening over Ross. They dragged the soaked tent and bedding up onto the rocks, and stood naked in the heap looking toward shore. The bikes were both lying on their sides and the contents of Dana’s bags had been scattered across the site.
“Glenn is going a little too far with his animosity,” Dana said, “We could have been hurt, or killed. The bikes might be damaged.”
“I’m not sure that was Glenn,” Ross said.
“Well, it could be Glenn. Or it could be Dorothy and Yllsa. Or Willie and Simon. Or it could be Byron.”
“We don’t know what the motivation was. The may not have intended us harm. It may have been a joke. Or, not. Dorothy is clearly jealous of you.”
“How could someone so pretty and slender and and young-looking and in such good shape and so talented be jealous of me?”
“You’re pretty and talented, too?”
“Not as pretty as she is!!”
“I think you are. You’re pretty to me.”
“Well, I think whoever dragged us into the water could have killed us. I don’t think it was a joke. If it was, it wasn’t funny.”
“Let’s check the bikes. Good thing it’s such a warm night, or we’d be getting hypothermia!”
Ross picked up the bikes and examined them. Dana picked up her belongings. She put on dry clothes, and gave Ross one of her largest T-shirts and a pair of sweatpants. They went to a 24-hour Laundromat and washed all the wet clothes, sleeping bag and tent. They dried everything but the tent. Ross suggested they hang it up to dry at the site and that they go to a motel for the night, his treat.
In the morning, when they went back to the site, the tent was gone.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
“I love the smell of the sea,” Dana said, slowly, “and the warm balmy summer evenings.”
“Mmmmmmm,” Ross murmured, “It’s definitely balmy in here. A little beyond balmy—it’s downright steamy. Glenn’d say that it smells like a bloody fish market, but I think it smells like contentment, like comfort.”
Dana rolled over and laid the length of her naked skin against Ross’s and breathed in the joy of having him beside her. “A gentle female rain after a long dry spell,” she whispered. “Ahhhhh!”
Suddenly the tent was yanked, battered and pulled down over the rocks and into the icy water. It collapsed around them. Ross thrashed and clawed at the fabric beside her. Wet tent closed over her face. Dana scrambled for the zipper, found it, fought with it, but it stuck in her hand. She yanked and yanked, lungs burning, but it wouldn’t budge.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Part 1, part 28
“She favors her mother,” Ross answered, unbuttoning Dana’s top button.
“No, she looks like more like you,” Dana said, twisting slightly to allow Ross access to the next button.
“She said she had her own boat, does she fish alone?”
“She has a partner now, but she fished alone for a few years. It’s in her blood.”
“Is there enough fish out there for all of you? Mmmm, Ross, oh.”
“Leave her and the fish back at Dorothy’s for now.”
“Is that a flashlight or . . .”
“Yes, I am happy to see you,” he murmured, stroking her soft skin. “Very happy. I’d like to see a little more of you, in fact.”
Dana reached over and unzipped the tent.
Monday, May 30, 2005
“Is this one of your etchings?” Dana asked, with some trepidation. It was a large delicate piece, utterly beautiful.
“These are all hers,” Ross said, with an note of obvious pride in his voice. Dana felt a little stab of something that felt almost like jealousy. Stupid. Stupid, she thought. I’m letting everyone talk me into something that isn’t even there. She let out a long sigh, and Ross and Dorothy both turned to look at her.
“I wish I were this artistic,” she said, trying to hide the real source of her pain. She did wish she were more artistic. She would have loved to have done the work that Dorothy had done. She walked around the living room, family room, dining room and kitchen, and down the hall, admiring the elegant pieces. They were an eclectic work of posters, photographs, drawings and etchings, differing in style but with a common thread or "voice."
“You might not want to view the bedroom etchings, if they’re the same as they were,” Ross said.
“Certainly she would, they’re among my best,” Dorothy said, urging Dana forward. Dana wanted to turn and run, but she allowed herself to be propelled into the bedroom. It was a spacious room with floor to ceiling windows that looked out over
Sunday, May 29, 2005
part 1, part 26
And don’t let yours always be too low,” Dorothy snapped back.
I shouldn’t have come here, Dana thought. She got the willies in the pit of her stomach. This is too much like home.
“Bucky was a wonderful father, a hard worker and a good provider, but don’t be getting interested in him. You’ll regret it, I promise.”
“I’m just here for a couple weeks doing some research. I don’t even live in
“Simon seemed to think there was some chemistry going on. I don’t recommend it, for your own good. Seriously.” Ross was studying his shoes. “He has a terrible temper and a fondness for the demon liquor. And tells stupid jokes, to boot.”
“I’ve never heard him tell a joke at all.” Dana said, not knowing how to respond to this conversational thread.
“He’s probably trying not to scare you off.”
Saturday, May 28, 2005
“That’s Billy Owens,” Ross whispered to Dana, pointing to a small black and white picture of a boy grinning at the camera, holding up a string of fish. Dorothy was out of the room getting them drinks. “Of course, it wasn’t there when I lived here.”
“Looks like Simon.”
“His Dad. I adopted him, of course.” Dorothy came into the room with a tray.
“And he was a wonderful father. To all four of our children.”
“Dorothy always did have supersonic ears,” Ross remarked.
“Four?” asked Dana. She imagined she shouldn’t, for some reason, but the remark seemed to warrant it.
Dorothy pointed to a picture where four children sat side by side on the steps of what looked like a museum or church. Boy girl boy girl, each one half a head smaller than the next. “Simon, Yllsa, Willie and Yvonya. Yvonya drowned in the same accident that injured Willie,” Dorothy said. Her voice was matter of fact, but a little flat. Dana looked up at her. Her face was pained.
Dana looked at Ross. He was studying the hands in his lap.
“Willie’s getting better, though,” Dorothy added.
“Don’t let your expectations get too high, honey,” Ross said.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Camping, The Pinery
Discovery at Little
“There’s Dorothy,” Ross said, pointing. A sailboat, leaning steeply, turned toward them. A tanned woman hung over the upper side. She waved gaily, and brought the boat up, tossing anchor. She dove and was beside them in an instant.
“This must be Dana,” she said, extending her hand, smiling broadly. Dana held out her hand, surprised. The woman, who must have been Ross’s age, looked twenty years his junior, and hers. She was slender and strong, and there was no loose flab on her upper arms. She looked as if she had never had children, but if Willie was their youngest son, she had to have had at least two. Simon, she thought. Simon was also her son. He looked just like her. She would have guessed him to be younger than Willie, but he must be older. Must have inherited some of her youthful genes and vigor.
“Nice to meet you,” Dorothy was saying. “The boys told me of your unexpected arrival on Little Hog Island and your interest in the terns.”
Dana refocused her eyes. They had been slipping off for a moment.
“And they said that Glenn had shot a hole or two in your kayak, that must have been upsetting,” she continued, cheerfully.
Dana was thinking how to respond, but before she’d thought of something to say, Dorothy rattled on, “I’m so excited to meet you. I love biologists.”
“I’m not really a biologist,” Dana started, “I’m a kindergarten teacher.”
“Oh, you’re a biologist, okay. I’m sure of it. I can’t wait to see what you learn about our terns.”
“I am not sure I will learn anything you don’t already know—you folks probably already know so much from all your research and observations. I am just a student.”
“So were we—and we were just in high school. And that was a long time ago. It’ll be fun to learn and discover anew.”
“Dorothy is selling herself a little short. She’s been an amateur ornithologist for years.”
“Now Bucky, don’t be putting any notions in Dana’s head.”
“You might want to see her etchings,” Ross said, smiling grimly.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
No retreat today. I’m jotting down a few words before I heave myself into bed. (I did walk to the shore at one point, in the evening, after dinner—almost at dusk. Alone.)
Discovery on Little Hog Island, part 24
They were out in the kayak together, Ross paddling and Dana crunched into the cargo hold. Ross said that if the kayak would hold both of them in rough seas , it would be safe for her. The patches seemed to be holding and Ross’s strong paddling was taking them toward the spit end of Little Hog Island.
“Let’s see, not Phip Rellins, he was biology, not Mr. Brunelle, he was Physics, let me guess, any chance it was Raymie Wadworth?” Dana asked.
“You’re good, real good. How’d you know?”
“I didn’t. Shot in the dark—it was the only other teacher I remember your mentioning.”
“You remember that? I don’t remember that—you got a photographic memory, or tape recording memory?”
“Not really, just a sort of unreliable 6th sense. It only works some of the time.”
“Yeah, Raymie got involved. Took the girls under his wing. We worked on the ecology and they worked on the history. It turned out that what they were doing was even more interesting than the terns. Speaking of which,” he said, waving his arm out. He had turned steeply and slid the kayak into a narrow sandy slip between some tall rocks. The terns flew in and out, doing their fantastic aerial dance.
“I didn’t bring my scope, my binocs or my notebook or recorder,” Dana mourned. “I didn’t know we were coming out here.”
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Discovery at Little Hog Island, part 23;
“Did you guys know there were ruins on the island?” Ami asked, breathlessly, as she settled back into the bird-watching alcove.
Dorothy opened her eyes and stretched deliciously. “Ruins?” she asked, “Really?”
All three girls turned to study the boys. The surprise on their faces was clearly evident.
“Hah!” Ami exclaimed, “I figured you didn’t know, because if you did, you would have showed them to us.”
*note: it has come to my attention that the links to previous posts don't open in all browsers. If you want to find an earlier post, go to the archives and scroll down. I'll fix them if I can figure out how.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Discovery at Little Hog Island, Part 22
Discovery at Little Hog Island, Part 22
Part 1, Part 21
Ami brought a large wool blanket and the red and white checkered tablecloth. She spread the blanket on the little beach and then the tablecloth on top of that. She put down her famous egg-salad and a loaf of crusty pumpernickel. Peggy brought a huge green salad, Rheta had a homemade strawberry rhubarb pie and Dorothy had an ice cream maker with milk, sugar and ice carefully wrapped in aluminum foil and a blanket. Rude set down a galvanized pail full of ice and cokes. Glenn had hotdogs that he’d cooked on a fire and wrapped in tinfoil and a wool blanket to keep warm, Garrett had paper plates, napkins and cups Billy Owens had a bag of potato chips and a little bottle of Jack Daniels he’d filched from his Dad’s liquor closet. And ketchup and mustard. Rude’s Dad and Phip had each learned of their plan and insisted they not build a fire on the island.
They ate first. Everyone was hungry and the food tasted great. Then they walked over to the nesting area along the shore. Already, they had made a trail going back and forth with their notes and pictures. They sat in the bird-watching alcove among the rocks, a sort of natural blind that Simon had discovered on their second visit. It even had rectangular rocks at the perfect height for benches. They talked and laughed and watched the birds fly in and out. The shared binoculars, the spotting scope and the camera that Phip had loaned them from school. Rude has his Dad’s camera and Ami had her Mom’s camera with a long lens. Billy passed the bottle of Jack Daniels and they all took small hits on it.
Ami announced she had to take a leak and climbed out of the bird-watching alcove, carrying her camera. She headed for the trees, carefully skirting the nesting area. Fifteen minutes later, she had not returned.
“Do you think she’s okay?” Billy Owens asked. “Should I go look for her?”
“She probably found some wildflowers and is taking pictures,” Dorothy said, stretching her legs out in the sun and hiking up her shorts a little so the sun fell onto more of her thighs.
Rude looked at the white skin that had been covered by the shorts and something stirred in him. He had thought of no one but Ami for so long that he had forgotten there were other girls in the world. Dorothy was nice. Her hair was dark blond with gold streaks and fell in a page boy to her chin. The hair fell back away from her face as she laid her head back on the rock. She closed her bright blue eyes and Rude studied the line of her chin and neck and the flat tanned part of her upper chest and the way her chest swelled. The pale edges of her breasts at the V of her white starched blouse. Her breasts weren’t as big as Ami’s, but they were nice-looking, rising and falling as Dorothy breathed. She was wearing blue eye-shadow, which he never liked, but he thought maybe he could get around that. But would she like him? She seemed to like him as a friend, but so did Ami. And Ami just laughed whenever he asked her to the movies or to a school dance. She was happy to work on Biology homework with him or ride bikes, but nothing romantic. Maybe if they were alone together, he and Dorothy, he would invite her to the prom. Just in case.
Discovery at Little Hog Island, part 21
Discovery at Little Hog Island, part 21
“Was there more?”
“No, but there was another dream.”
“Ami, is that Glenn’s ex-wife?”
“Did you all like her?”
“Was she really pretty?”
“We all thought so. She looked a lot like you, same red hair and green eyes. But her hair was oranger. She was smart and wild, loved motorcycles and music and poetry and cameras. She liked to climb trees and play baseball. At the time when we were just turning into teenagers, having a pretty girl that liked all the things we liked seemed like a dream come true. So many other girls are so hard to understand with their dolls and their make-up. None of us liked make-up, it made the girls look fake. Like a doll. I know guys who love girls in high heels and make-up, but I was never one of them. None of us were.”
“You liked her because she was more accessible?”
“She was nice. Well, not exactly nice, nice isn’t really the right word. She was fun. Pretty and fun. Exciting. Never a dull moment.”
“Sounds like someone I would like, too.”
“Maybe you would, but she’s changed a lot since then.”
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Discovery at Little Hog Island, part 20
Part 1, part 19
“Your research project is bringing up memories for me,” Ross said, stuffing his mouth full of the Fretta they were sharing. “I had a dream last night about Billy Owens.”
At first, Dana didn’t understand him. His mouth was full, and his words came out a bit garbled. She was about to say, ‘What?’ when she realized what he had said.
“Are you going to share it with me?”
“If I hadn’t intended to, I wouldn’t have brought it up.”
“I dream I am in a bathtub and everyone is looking down at me. I am surrounded by people, and they are trying to get me out of the bathtub. I want to tell them to hurry, but I can’t speak. Someone knocks the drain release and the water turns into a huge whirlpool. I am sucked down the drain. The last thing I see are all these hands reaching for me, but they look like hands through a fish-eye lens. A through a big bubble.”
“What does that have to do with Billy Owens?”
“In the dream, I am Billy Owens.”
Friday, May 13, 2005
I left my headlamp in the house and my waterbottle in the car (and I’m thirsty!) I’ve been thirsty all day because of my cold.
This morning, in
I was hoping to “be on retreat” at least briefly while I was here, but I don’t have a copy of m story to review, so it will be impossible to pick it up exactly where I left off.
Discovery at Little Hog Island, part 19
part 1, part 19
Dana rolled over in her sleeping bag, looked up at the camouflage skin of the tent. The dappled browns and greens of the nylon were lit by dappled light. The sun, she thought, must be low to be coming through the few bushes ringing the site in the east. Mostly, there was just rock. She closed her eyes, rolled back into the bag, and opened them again. It had just occurred to her that she was in a different site, a site she hadn’t seen in the daylight. And there were footsteps outside. Male footsteps, by the sound of it.
She turned back over, sat up, and rubbed her eyes. She unzipped the tent and peered out. Someone was crouched over her crumpled kayak. She remembered it had been wounded by gunshot. The whole previous evening seemed like a dream The man turned toward her. It was Buck. He was rubbing the kayak material with sand paper. He glued on patches.
“Let me take you to breakfast,” he said. “Then we can come back and test the kayak after the patches dry to make sure she is seaworthy.”
“And don’t even think of saying ‘no,’” Buck said. “I won’t take no for an answer.”
“No,” she said, laughing. She pulled on her jeans and crawled out of the little tent. She ran her fingers though her hair, splashed some water on her face, and staggered over to the outhouse.
“I brought a second helmet,” he said, “and another BMW.”
“You never mentioned having a bike. If you did, I probably would have tagged you for a Harley man.”
“That’s because you’re still thinking of me as Buck. Why don’t you call me Ross? Then it will be easier to remember I drive a BMW.”
“Okay, Ross, I’ll try.” Ross looked different than Buck. He was cleaned up, his hair was combed, and he was shaved. Dana worried that it might be because of her. Perhaps it was just as well they were riding separate bikes.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Discovery on Little Hog Island, Part 18 (chapter 2)
“Sure, Rude. Hi Billy, hi Garrett. Rude says you’re going out to Little Hog Island to study the terns. Can you come by my room?”
“Aw, Phip, we wanted to get going. It’s such a nice day and it’ll take a while to bike down and row out there.”
“Just a couple minutes, boys. I promise it won’t take long.”
* * *
The boys had stripped down to their shorts. The wave-tips glinted in the sun, but the wind was cold. Rude wanted to put his shirt back on, but didn’t want the other boys to think he was a wimp. They all had gooseflesh when they pulled in to the small bay on southeast shore of little Hog Island. Billy’s lips were blue and Garrett was shivering.
“This is stupid,” Rude said. He pulled his shirt back on, and then his sweater. The others hastily followed suit. Billy had the camera that Phip had lent them, Garrett was carrying the binoculars, and Rude had a spiral notebook and pencil. Phip had said to take their field notes in pencil. He’d instructed them to make careful notes and sketches but never to get closer than about 15 feet and never to stay even that close more than 3-5 minutes. Rude’s Dad had pretty much told him the same thing. They were ready.
They followed the faint path through the woods along the shore until the trees started getting warped and shrunk. Then there was the open rock, with withered shrubs and terns wheeling in and out. Nests everywhere.
“Dad said most of the terns are arctic terns,” Rude said.
“The book says we can tell the roseate terns by using a combination of field marks. It sounds as one of the easiest ways to tell is by the pinkish underparts, if you can see them. And paler grey upperparts, and its mostly black bill during breeding season. It says the Roseate Terns lack the dark trailing edge of the other species with only the outermost primaries having dark areas near the tips. Garrett, see if you can spot any,” Billy said.
Garrett was already peering through the binoculars at the flying birds. “There’s a lot of birds,” he said, “and they’re hard to follow.”
“Look at the ones on the ground,” Rude suggested.
“It says here,” Billy said, brushing his long blond hair from his eyes for about the hundredth time, “‘In contrast with Common Terns which usually nest in open or exposed sites, Roseate Terns usually hide their nests under some sort of protective cover such as rocks, vegetation, or washed-up debris.’ Look for the Roseates near some of the junky stuff, Garrett.”
Rude made a sketch of the Island, the way the long spit of rock curved out into the waves, the small bay-like area formed by the curve, the sandy spots in the mini bay, the birds wheeling and diving overhead. They were small and graceful, so acrobatic. He drew a couple birds close-up, so he could try to catch the long fork of their tail and the graceful curve of their wings.
Billy stuffed the book into his backpack and started fiddling with the camera. “How did he say to set the light?” he asked, brushing his hair from his face.
“Like this,” Rude said, showing him how to turn the controls for speed and f-stop. “He said if it was sunny to shoot at 500 speed and f 22, remember?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right.”
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Well, today I not only did not have a retreat, but I also am sick with a somewhat miserable cold. And have had no dinner or shower. But now I feel compelled to write something.
Discovery at Hog Island, Part 17
“Hi Phip. I said ‘Darn. Darn Barn Beezlewax.’”
“That sounds pretty rude, Rude.”
“It can’t be rude, it’s what my Mom says.”
“Oh, well, that settles it, then. Are you supposed to be peeking into Mr. Brunelle’s room while he’s lecturing?”
“Nope. Wasn’t me. How come he always runs late? Me and Billy Owens need to get going. Garrett too.”
“Billy Owens and I. And where are you off to, if I might ask?”
“You can ask—it’s for your Advanced Placement Biology Class, Phip. We’re going out to Little Hog Island. You said we could work on our Ecology project together. We want to study the roseate terns. Dad says they’re really rare.”
“You need to be especially careful not to disturb them. I wish you would talk to me about it.”
“Oh, he’s done, here they come. Can we talk to you right now? We want to get going.”
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Discovery on Little Hog Island Part 16
Part 1, part 15
“Absolutely. I hear on NRP today that just saying the word beer makes men view women with ‘beer eyes,’ seeing them as more attractive than they really are. I always wanted to be more attractive, but not by saying the word ‘beer!’ And . . . I have homework.”
“Okay, okay. I get the point. I will be stopping by your site to make arrangements to take you out to Hog Island to see the roseates and arctics.”
“See you then.” Dana revved her engine lightly and then swung out of the campsite and onto the road back North. She could see the dim lights of Buck’s Dingy heading slowly back toward Hog Island.
Chapter 2: A Project with Billy Owens
Rude waited for Billy outside Mr. Brunelle’s Physics class. He peered through a rip in the electricity handout Mr. Brunelle had taped over the window to stop kids from looking in while he was talking. Billy and Garrett were sitting together at the back of the room shooting spit-balls through a straw trying to stick them on the ceiling over Ami Whitehouse’s head. One of them came loose and dropped onto her head. Ami reached up and felt it, made a face, and looked up at the ceiling just as another came loose. She ducked to the side and it plopped onto her shoulder.
“Damn,” Rude said. He had been hoping it would hit her in the face. Ami turned and glared at Billy and Garrett.
“What did you say, Rude?” A familiar voice said. Rude turned. It was Phip Rellins. No one called him Mr. Rellins. He was Phip to everyone, teachers and students alike. “Did you want me to escort you down for a little talk with Mr. Harmond?”
Monday, May 09, 2005
Discovery on Little Hog Island, part 15
Part 1, part 14
Dana pulled over to the side of the road. Buck leaped off the bike and ran back to the cop car as it pulled up behind her. A moment later, he returned and told her to go ahead.
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely.” So, with some trepidation, she pulled out on the road. The cop car pulled out behind her. She started to pull over again. “No, no,” Buck hollered, “he’s giving us an escort to the boat to assure my safety.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Not at all. I asked for the service, for emergency protection.”
It was only a short ways, and when they turned into the campground, the cop continued down the shore highway. Dana breathed a sign of relief.
“What on earth was that all about?” she inquired, when they stopped at her old campsite, now barren and dark. “I never heard of such a thing.”
“That was Byron, my older brother.”
“That was your brother? You have a brother named Byron?” Why, Dana wondered was she always repeating everything Buck said, like an imbecile.
“Buck’s not my real name, of course.”
“It’s Rudyard Kipling Dennison. That’s why they call me Buck. Can you imagine me on my first day of kindergarten introducing myself as Rudyard?”
“You could have been Rudy. You weren’t Buck then, were you?”
“Bucky. I caught a lot of flack for that, too. The relatives called me Rudy. When I was a teenager, some of my friends just called me Rude.”
“I can imagine.”
“I was thinking about legally changing my name.”
“No, to Ross. Ross Robert Dennison. It has a nice ring to it. No bad connotations I can think of. Simple and easy.”
“You’re serious about this, aren’t you?
“Yeah, I am, I think. Pretty much. I go around about it, but I think I’ll do it. Buck makes me sound illiterate, like some backwoods hick in the Ozarks or something. I’m no Einstein. But I’m not a dunce, either."
"I can see that. Were your parents really into poetry?”
"Yeah, my parents like poetry. A lot.”
“I guess that's a no-brainer. Well, Ross, or Buck, or whoever you are, it’s been a pleasure. Sort of.”
“Are you sure you don’t want a beer?”
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Discovery at Little Hog Island, part 14
part 1, part 13
"I'm not used to riding a passenger," Dana said apologetically. "I almost never do. So trusting me may not be so smart."
Buck tightened his arm around her waist. He snorted. Sounded just like Glenn.
He directed her to the next Provincial park and had the camp reassembled exactly as she'd had it, with adjustments for the different site, almost immediately.
"You've done this before," she said.
"Yep. That I have. Want to have another beer?"
"Not particularly. I’m not a big drinker. One was enough."
"Nah, it's too late."
“I’m allergic to dairy products.”
"Aiee! Well, will you drive me back to my boat, then?"
They hadn't gone a half-mile south toward the Hog Island campground when red lights started spinning and a cop pulled out behind them.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Please let me know if any of the links between posts, or any of the other links, don't work,
Thanks, Mary :-)
Our morning so far on Mary 7, 2005: Keith reads the paper, early dogwood blossoms. The dogwood blossoms in our front yard are still small and the florets haven't opened yet. They almost look like thin, translucent terra cotta.
I'm doing a quick mini-retreat at home this morning while Keith drinks his coffee and reads the paper. We are going to Cranbrook today with Sam and Joan, so I don't know if I'll have time to write later.
Discovery at Little Hog Island, Part 13
"Shot?" Dana asked, her voice rising with a clear note of fear and hysteria.
"He was using a gun with a silencer. Probably shot two holes. One going in, one out."
"A gun? With a silencer?" Dana repeated stupidly. Still sounding high and frightened.
"You fell when the kayak surged at the shot and hit your head on a submerged rock. I'll patch the kayak for you. It shouldn’t be too hard to repair."
Dana felt the back of her head. Her hair was wet and matted and under it was a large goose egg. It hurt, and her head throbbed.
Buck helped her out of the dingy and carried the limp kayak up the path to her tent.
"You could report him for damaging your property. I hope you won’t do that."
"How could he shoot out into the dark and be sure he wouldn’t hit me."
"He was in the marines in
"In the dark?"
"It wasn't that dark. There was a lot of ambient light from the moon. You were looking into the dark woods--he was looking out into the moonlit water."
"Of course, sorry. So tell me again why I shouldn't blow Glenn in for shooting a hole in my Kayak. For banging my head and half-drowning me?"
"Because. I am asking you not to. I'm hoping that'll be enough, if I fix the kayak. Will you let me move you to another Provincial Park? It's only ten miles north and there's a really good colony of arctic and roseate terns nearby. And I will assist you by making arrangements to give you a private tour of the colonies on Little Hog Island. They are totally undisturbed."
"What about Glenn?"
"Let me worry about Glenn. I know his schedule. Deal?" Buck held out his hand.
"Deal," Dana said, and they shook on it.
Buck had the sleeping bag rolled up and the tent down and folded and the cook kits stowed in their sacks. He moved around the camp like well-oiled machinery, like a man accustomed to lots of work. It would have taken Dana hours to do what he did in only a few minutes.
She watched him pack her BMW. He was leaving room for himself. "I can't take you with me," she said, "I don't have a spare helmet with me."
"That's okay; the cops are all at the donut shop right now. I trust you. We can make it there before they get off break."
Friday, May 06, 2005
Discovery at Hog Island, Part 12
part 1, part 11
Dana was in Buck's arms as he scooped her from the black water. Her head throbbed, and she leaned weakly against his chest.
"You okay?" he asked, his voice thick with concern.
"I guess so," Dana said, shakily. She felt like crying because her head hurt and she had water in her lungs.
"Let me take you back to camp," Buck said.
"And help her pack up and be on her way," Glenn's voice came from the shore.
Buck carried Dana to shore. She was no tiny damsel in distress. "You must be strong," Dana said.
"Pulling all those nets, hauling and all those lines," Buck answered. "You're not that heavy. You should see the barrels of fish I heft onto the docks every day." He set her in one of the dinghies moored off a log that jutted out into the water. Then, he dragged the deflated kayak and paddle over, squeezed the remained air and water out of it, and tossed that in the dingy. Then started rowing.
"Don’t come back." Glenn shouted from the dark woods as they moved out toward the still ocean. The moon made a crooked and broken path over the small swells. Bucked rowed in silence. He followed the route Dana had taken in. He rowed out, then south, then in and back along the shore.
"Billy Owens was Glenn's best friend." he said, as they neared the path to her tent. "And you are spitting image of Ami, his estranged wife."
"I'm not Ami, and I didn't kill Billy Owens. I had nothing to do with it. I've never been here before."
"You’re stirring up hard feelings. The fact that you know nothing about it, that you're a stranger, makes it worse. Like you're poking your nose in where it doesn't belong."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I have this weird radar that seems to sense when things aren't quite right. I always want to know where the discrepancy is. I'm unbearably curious. I know it's a weakness. What happened back there?"
"Glenn shot a hole in your kayak."
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Discovery at Little Hog Island, Part 11
Part 1, part 10
Something rattled in the bushes. A soft bumping, a strange swish, then silence. Odd sound, she thought with a shiver. Familiar. Owl.
"An owl," Buck said. "Great horned, probably. So, are you sure you’re not a detective?" His grip loosened on her arm, but he did not release it.
"I'm a kindergarten teacher."
"Why are you studying shoreline ecology?"
"I may want to teach at the college level sometime, part or full time."
"Big jump from Kindergarten."
"Yup." He released her and they walked down the dark trail. Dana pulled her kayak from the bushes.
"Wow! Very well-hidden. Are you sure you’re not a detective?"
"Positive." She placed the kayak into the water and Buck gave the kayak a gentle shove. It glided a few feet out into the dark shining water.
"If you change your mind about the terns . . ."
"If you remember anything about Billy Owen . . ."
"You might just want to let that rest." Buck said.
"Yes. You do," came a voice from the shadows. It was Glenn. “Why don’t you move on to another campground? There are lots of tern colonies in the islands. We don’t want you here.” She heard Glenn’s voice, rumbling low in the darkness. He was carrying a huge flashlight, and he shined it right in her eyes. Buck knocked it to one side as Dana raised a hand to shield her eyes. She was blinded for a moment, and felt the kayak suddenly tipping. She fell toward the dark water.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Today I am taking my Retreat at Metrobeach. It is free on Wednesdays. I am here by myself, and I have just completed my constitutional walk. I am sitting by the
Discovery at Little
"Why don't I just leave?" Dana asked, "Since I seem to be causing trouble here."
"Didn't finish your beer," Buck said.
"Didn't finish the poker game, either," Willie said, looking a little reproachful.
Dana tipped the beer up and gulped down the last of it. "Do you think you could finish without me? I have homework to do."
"Homework? Who'd go camping and bring homework with them?" Simon asked, sounding horrified. Willie nodded vigorously.
"I would," Dana said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn't get to go camping at all, and I love camping. I'm taking a postgraduate biology class in shoreline ecology, so this is a perfect place to do my research."
"Yeah, right now I am studying nesting behavior and ecology of roseate terns and their relationship to arctic terns. I found a colony of them just a few miles south of here."
"There's an undisturbed colony of arctics and roseates on the northeast corner of Little Hog Island," Garrett said.
"Really?" Dana asked, sounding delighted. "But," her voiced dropped an octave, "I was going to leave here and never come back. I feel like I’m imposing on you." She looked toward the door where Glenn had disappeared.
"I'm sure it would be okay if you wanted to study our terns," Simon said. Willie nodded vigorously.
"I probably should just leave." She sounded uncertain, but rose to her feet, pushing her chair back. It made a sound like fingernails on slate. Dana shivered.
"Would you let me walk you to your boat?" Buck asked.
"I guess so," Dana said.
As they left the room, she thought she heard Willie saying, "Buck and Dana, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G," but she wasn't sure. No, it couldn't be.
"Don't mind him," Buck said. “He's a little under the weather right now.”
Just as the door was closing, someone yelled, "Watch it Buck, or you'll be out on your ear."
"Don’t mind him, either," Buck said, his grin showing in the lamplight that shone through the window. "He's just jealous."
Dana blushed. "Listen, Buck. About Billy Owens, I was just curious. What was strange about him? Why did he die?"
"Are you sure you're not a detective?" Buck asked. He grabbed her arm, and held tight.