Farmers market sunflowers
Lynn Dee uses local foliage for smoke in making raku pottery.
Starks is a devotee of Slow Food, the movement to oppose fast food and promote local dining as a source of pleasure. That seems appropriate given the pace of life on the island. "It's not a 'doing' kind of place," Starks says. "It's a 'being' kind of place."
You feel this when you watch the clouds casting shadows on the water, or Lynn Dee gathering ferns and maple leaves from her garden to smoke for her raku pottery. ("My requirement is that everything that goes into the kiln be local," she says.) You feel it at Windy Hill, Michael Oppenheimer's outdoor sculpture garden filled with kinetic artworks, where a subtle breeze sends tall grasses blowing in waves, a field of tiny weather vanes changing direction, and a pipe chime ringing ― or maybe that's a songbird.
Everywhere you turn, you meet residents talking about how quickly and easily they fell in love with the island. Oppenheimer still remembers his first visit 30 years ago, when he bought the farm that became Windy Hill. "There were blackberries everywhere, and everyone was eating salmon," he says. "The ferryboat was tiny and so romantic. Everyone knew each other ― there was a sense of community."
Starks, too, fell in love with the place despite himself, realizing how much the island felt like his childhood home in Everett, Washington. "I used to drive out on the freeway to a lumberyard, where I'd stop the car and say to my kids, 'This is where I grew up. This is where I built forts, played games,' " Starks says. "And now it's a lumber yard. Gone. This is the last best place for me ― it's home."