All in a day’s reading

I travelled yesterday to do a reading at the Oak Harbor branch of the Sno-Isle Library System. The library is shared with the Whidbey Island location of the Skagit Valley College and so my day also included visits to a few English classrooms.

Oak Harbor 1As I stepped out onto the street to begin my travels I thought it would be interesting to document my day.

How many poets are there after all, who could claim going from a major metropolitan area (at the top of rush hour traffic)  on busy highways, to catch a ferry onto an island, drive for an hour through lonely rural roads to arrive at a sea-side town where the local library serves both town and community college, all to do a reading?

Very, very few indeed. And how lucky I felt to be such a poet making such a journey on a glorious, crisp December day.

Oak Harbor 2
Seattle’s Skyline from the High Point neighborhood

Not pictured: bumper to bumper traffic on I-5 and every arterial leading to downtown.



Mukilteo – the ferry dock (with hardly any cars!) and lighthouse

Oak Harbor 5

Last week I was in Philadelphia and New York City for readings at Temple and NYU respectively. As my days in the east coast wore on I started to miss my life here in WA State. Most notably I missed the trees! The lushness of them, their stoic stance and their silence. How much pause and serenity they bring into our lives — into mine.

On one of these Whidbey Island trees pictured here I saw a hawk, its back turned to the morning sun. Frost covered the ground and I imagined what must have been a cold night for all critters. I saluted her with a “Good morning Mrs. Hawk!” as I rolled by in my car, then, less than 800 hundred meters ahead,  a dead racoon. Its front legs were crossed one over the other and even from the car I could see its fur covered in icicles. Death never far away to sharpen my vision, to make me appreciate the splendour of life.


After a quick bite to eat and a cup of tea in Bayview I drove on the length of the island to Oak Harbor. I had only ever driven through the town, never been to its old section — a mistake.  I wished that I had time to explore the shops and take in the view of the marina from the park that faces it. Instead I drove onto the college, visited four classrooms where I gave short presentations and then walked to the library for my 3 p.m. reading.

Oak Harbor 8Oak Harbor 9


This was the scene about 10 minutes before the reading. It was really well attended with town folks, community college and high school students. I read and answered many relevant and interesting questions and afterward exchanged photographs and anecdotes with many of the attendees. Here I am with the very last group to leave – four very smart high school students.




Good bye day. Good bye Oak Harbor. Thank you Mary Campbell from Oak Harbor Library. Thank you Gail Davern from Skagit Valley College.


I left the town at 5 p.m. The first picture here is from the library and the second one from the road along the marina. The island is a dark place in the evening. My drive on 520 south to Clinton to catch my ferry was not as easy as the morning drive had been. But again the ferry dock was nearly empty and I was able to get on the return boat easily.

Oak Harbor 13

By seven p.m. rush hour traffic had died down in Seattle. Only as I approached downtown did it thicken enough to merit snapping this picture. I arrived home tired but satisfied, thankful for having been granted a fine day of discovery, community and poetry.

Oak Harbor 14


2 thoughts on “All in a day’s reading

  1. Teresa Vanairsdale

    After a long day representing us as our Washington State Poet Laureate, you did well. I’m an MFA student at EWU’s MFA in Spokane and I am impressed by your intentions for our state and your impulses for poems. Hope to meet you sometime.
    Teresa Vanairsdlae

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