We've had a couple of amazing sun filled days here. The break of warm weather, with no wind and the sun warming everything has made it feel like we are slipping deeper to the edge of summer. We've been kayaking, collecting oysters and mussels, bird watching, baking bread (success!), getting Tumbleweed dried out -hanging bedding from the halyards, opening up lockers and getting this nice low humidity air circling about.
Two days ago we kayaked across the sound and along the further shore, it's a mile across and took us a while, the water was as still as a pond, only the faintest of wind puffs drifted across the surface. There is almost no sign of other people here. A small logging operation on the island has a couple of trucks that run back and forth, perhaps a truck an hour, and that is the only sound of humanity. An occasional distant rumble of the trucks, a muffled toot of a horn on a sharp curve.They aren’t clearcutting but there is something about logging in Desolation Sound that jogs the dignity of the place, various clumps and scars here and there. For the rest it is all as still as the surface of the waters. An eagle cries out and sends a ripple through the air, but it fades out and we are left with the sounds of our paddles and water dripping across the deck of our kayaks.
We paddled back across the sound as the sun started to dip behind the hills of Redondo Island. The tide was up and we paddled along the high water mark close to shore. The shoreline is steep and rocky, with cliffs dropping straight into the waters of the sound, water seeping along the rock face. In the cooling day we were able to glide along, quietly, over the top of small schools of fish, starfish, tiny jellyfish the size of a silver dollar, transparent but for white outlines, and even smaller red jellyfish. The water so clear it was easy to be deceived by the true depth. In the late day the forest released a wash of fragrant air over these cliff edges- cedar, pine, rich soil, plants waking to these warmer days. The air reminded me of being in a Japanese temple, that smell of wood and earth like incense.
Yesterday we took the dinghy across and collected a bucket of oysters and mussels. We looked for a possible place to land the dinghy, the waterline is covered with oysters - on top of each other, on every rock, clinging to small stones, cliff faces, trees hanging over the water. It is sort of mind boggling how many oysters there are here. At some point it seems just too much, like an infestation - which is actually what has happened. These are an introduced species - the Japanese oyster, and they have forced out the smaller, indigenous, Olympia oyster. The area is mostly pristine - no signs of trash or debris, except for the oyster bags that have been dropped along the shore. Every beach or small out crop has a few net bags of oysters that have been dropped off in a way that looks careless and discarded. As the tide goes out the beach line is covered with unsightly net piles filled with heaps of oyster shells. Most of the bags look to be made of nylon mesh and so will never really deteriorate. Maybe this is an annual thing, put out bags of oysters to up the count of sprat in the waters in the summer? It is difficult to go ashore when the tide is in transition and the tide exposes the shells. They are sharp and facing upward, a fall could seriously ruin your day, and an abrupt landing with an inflatable could leave you swimming back to your boat.
Last night I steamed a small pan of mussels - small, richly flavored. Butter, a splash of white wine and some garlic. I fried the oysters, rolled them in flour, cornmeal and paprika. I had made a loaf of Jim Lahey's no knead bread in the dutch oven earlier in the day and that went really well, the warm weather helps out the bread making. Simple cabbage slaw on the side. By then the loggers had returned to camp and the cove was quiet.