Mark and Gail Dupar relax by a beach fire with daughter Saide (right) and neighbor Heidi Bateman.
And they persevered. The couple refurbished the farmhouse and built a barn and a garden shed.
They planted a kitchen garden, hooked up an ancient well to water it, and learned how to live off the harvest. As they worked, they discovered family treasures. Letters from Gail's grandpa to her grandma, proposing marriage. Great Aunt Helen's gnarled plum tree. When the tree was small, according to family stories, a grazing horse pulled it out of the ground and ran off with it, Helen in hot pursuit. Fortunately, Helen rescued and replanted the traumatized tree, and it continues to produce luscious plums that Gail, an accomplished cook, uses to make jams and sauces. Today the Dupars live mostly on Decatur, though they also spend time in Anacortes where their daughter, Saide, 17, attends high school. Do they miss the buzz of city life? Hardly, says Mark. Friends come for dinner, or neighbors gather for cookouts on the beach. And on special occasions, Gail and Mark often take their boat to nearby Orcas Island for a candlelit supper, then cruise home by moonlight.
"It's romantic in summer when you putt back home just after dark and the water is calm," Gail says. "The wake behind the boat is phosphorescent, like a trail of sparkling stars."
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