Connected To History


Good friend and fellow Patagonia ambassador, Dave McCoy, and his daughter, Nessa, came out to the Island for a visit. We had a little time to kill before the kids were due for a climbing session at the rock gym, so we went to check out the site of the old Port Blakely Mill. That’s Weston and Nessa looking over what’s left of the historic log-pond dam.

Standing in the quiet meadow watching the tide run out, it’s almost impossible to imagine the industry and life that once populated what was, in the late 1800s, the largest lumber mill of its kind in the world. Port Blakely was also one of the major shipyards on the entire coast, with ships of almost every size and shape built and sailed from here. And now, it’s a quiet little park framed by alders and marsh grass, populated by herons, diving birds and a few kids and dads taking it all in.

I get the same feeling here that I once had on a street in Paris, thinking that at some point, Hemingway, and probably Fitzgerald, and possibly even Picasso, and thousands or millions of other, anonymous people, had once stood in the exact same place. I wondered then, what were they thinking about, what were their lives like?

When Skyla was about four years old, her preschool was just down the street from Port Blakely. When the tides were right, I would leave about 15 minutes early to pick her up, stop by this spot, and fish. Sometimes it was pretty good, with a nice salmon or sea-run cutthroat grabbing my surface fly; other times, there was nothing. But it felt good, and important, for a new dad of two to be able to squeeze in a few casts, even if only for a moment.

And sometime in the long-distant future, I imagine someone else will stand here, with no idea of us, and wonder about all the lives of people who once stood in this exact same place. The earth abides.


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