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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

13 August 2016

☀️ POCKET FULL OF AGATES ☀️ by June Burn 1930

Agates from beaches of Shaw Island, San Juan Archipelago.
A seventy year collection found by Don & M.L. Clark
kindly donated to Saltwater People Historical Society.
"Agates, now. Have you strolled along a sun-struck gravelled beach hunting agates, the surf from Juan de Fuca rolling in at your feet? Have you sat beside a dying campfire watching the sun set across many waters while the tide comes slowly in rattling the gravel at its every measured step?
      I am sitting now on warm gravel at the top of Bloor's beach that seems to me the beach at the head of Davis Bay on my map, though I cannot be sure. Every shining strand seems to have a different name on every tongue.
      The tide is at the flood. Iridescent glory lies on the smooth waters of Puget Sound. I look out across the channel to San Juan Island; across the wide and wind-wrinkled strait to the Olympic peninsula.
      I am thinking how the spring salmon slide along just underneath the rosy glowing surface of the Sound; how the flounders sail across patches of sand where grows the dense sea lettuce in the shallow edges of Davis Bay.
      Down the bright curve of this sunny beach I shall crawl on my hands and knees to find his very sunset congealed in little hunks that I shall call agates.
      Pocket full of agates––ecstasy to possess you! Foolish to love you so as if one's life were meager else. As if there were no hermit thrush a-singing in the swish of Douglas firs behind the beach. As if Puget Sound were not freckled with a hundred islands surpassingly lovely. As if one never slept on hemlock beds in virgin forests far from towns. As if one had no little boats to ride the tides to other beaches––oh, one is not poor in romance! There is plenty of beauty and adventure.
      Still, these little gobs of sunset thrill me to the core. 
      This one a cloudy blue as if the sky, on a misty day had petrified and lost a bit of itself. Juan de Fuca, rolling in mightily, brought it, maybe, from far. Brought also this little flock of clear saffron drops like sun on dry grass––thimblefuls or it turned into amber fossils.
      This big luscious pink agate––what can it be but a chunk of sunset squeezed into a hard precious pebble-jewel? These little clear drops of adamantine water fell somehow out of the sky. They have no color, but I love them for the sweet tranquility of them.
      Some day I shall carry my bag of agates to a jeweler to have a necklace made––a necklace of fossilized sunset! The jeweler will laugh at me and show me emeralds and rubies and marvelous, moss agates, maybe, and sapphires and topazes from far places. He or she will explain, as to a child, how one might have real jewels for the price of cutting and polishing and mounting my incredibly hard, tough stones.
      For of course they will think my bag holds beach agates. He or she will not know that they are chunks of rosy sunsets, little drifts of rain clouds, handfuls of sunshine from golden slopes, petrified and planted for the lovers and combers of beaches!
      It is still another day and with wholehearted hospitality the brand new innkeepers, the entire Kilpatrick family and several others are escorting me to Spencer spit for an all-day picnic. I wonder, now, if there is always a spirit of an all-day picnic. I wonder, now, if there is always a spirit of holiday in the islands? I wonder if one went in the middle of the harvesting season, if one would find everybody willing to drop everyday tasks for a picnic or a stroll or a sightseeing trip with what was day before yesterday a complete stranger? It is a wonderful way to live––this easy, casual islandering!
      Spencer spit is a  long, triangular strip of sand and gravel and sparse grass which cranes its neck to reach Frost Island on the northeast corner of Lopez Island. It is reached by an imitation road down a rather precipitous slope through shrubbery to the top of the ridge overlooking the spit. Here the homes of people in love with quietness and the changing rhythm of the surf.
      In the center of the triangle a lagoon. And at the very apex, a tiny log cabin built of driftwood. Here, in the lee of the cabin we build our campfire, make a great pot of coffee, and eat our lunch.
      At low tide one can stand at the end of the spit and toss a pebble across to the high rocky cliff that is Frost Island on its western side. Big steamers can pass through this channel through hugging the shore of Frost where the water is very deep. A little boat comes around the headland of upper Lopez, slips along this narrow channel now, bound for Decatur Island, they say, to see a pretty girl.
      Down both skies of the triangle the gravel yields its hidden store of agates, turned up by the surf. Within, the lagoon warms up and there is fine swimming in summer. An idyllic place. See you tomorrow. June."
Puget Sounding. Burn, June. May 1930



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