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Island life viewed via a rock and barefeet

  • Written by Sharon Kivisto

 Two photos - one taken this month, the other taken 111 years ago - convey aspects of island life in a way words cannot.

Beaverton Valley Rock on San Juan Island has been covered with plastic since April 20. Sharon Kivisto photo

A puzzling twist on the decades-long tradition of painting the iconic rock on Beaverton Valley near Egg Lake Road has been visible since April 20. Traditionally, painting the rock is a laissez-faire operation. No one is in charge, the paintings last until someone else is inspired to paint the large boulder. Sometimes it is months before it is repainted, sometimes as little as two days. 

It's ironic that on Earth Day April 22, the boulder was covered in plastic. Not exactly in sync with the population's antipathy to plastic. 

So why is the rock covered in plastic? Is someone protecting it until some grand unveiling? I don't know but will share once I find out.

Whatever the reason, let's hope it is a one-off and not the start of a convoluted new system of what has been a serendipitous aspect of island life.  

Center School students in 1912. Photo courtesy of Lopez island Historical Museum

In Lopez Historical Museum's 1912 photo of Center School students exhibit different degrees of eagerness. One child is partly hidden behind the schoolmarm. Several girls are dressed up in pinafores with ribbons in their hair. Two of the students in the front row are barefoot, one girl is wearing an ill-fitting dirty dress. 

Among other things, it shows that income equality is nothing new in the islands. It also brings home how much progress has been made in making sure children's needs are met. Free lunch programs are now provided at the schools. The Family Resource Centers on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Islands make significant differences and help provide a safety net for children and their families.   

Also evident is the importance of the work done by the historical societies on each island. Viewing photos from days past is one of the most effective ways to understand the local history.