Marina at a Crossroads

Marina stood at the crossroads – both literally and figuratively. Home for the holidays, she stood hesitating, quite unsure of which way to turn. She’d left the house in a flurry of confusion, needing to stretch her legs and gulp in lungfulls of the sea air she’d been missing.

It was actually a Y intersection, a “Place of Hekete,” Greek Goddess of the Crossroads. To the East was the Beaver Pond. Now part of the local Conservancy Trust, it had been saved by neighbors of her grandparents’ generation from being filled in and built upon. The first eco-battle she remembered. Did the beaver still live there? No evidence of them at the moment. Houses had sprung up in recent years around its perimeter, but the marsh looked healthy, still doing its job of catchment for the waters draining down off the Mountain into this little valley. Certainly the mallards were happy today. In two months the place would be ringing with the territorial sounds of red wing blackbirds by day and the peepers by night… She pulled her mind back from the spring joys of her growing up years here.

A quarter turn to West, huge waves were visible over the wildly waving grasses of the dunes. The tide was high. Even as a child she’d loved this vantage point, the earth of the Mountain firmly at her shoulder while the sea beckoned her to come play. Immediately Northwest, the rushing stream from the Beaver Pond cut through the dunes after passing the tangle of old-fashioned roses and the ghost of the old tavern that used to stand in this spot. Her parents remembered it burning down before she was born. Would her children find these same spots to play in if she were to settle here? “What children?!” she chided herself.

She spun completely to the North to glory in the Mountain, its top ridge voluptuously curved like a woman lying on her back. Marina could draw that outline in her sleep. Indeed, it often haunted her sleep.

Focusing on these landmarks brought her another degree more firmly Home. Should she be moving back to help make sure that all such places were protected? She knew that the Convervancy Trust was starting a push to acquire estuary lands along the bay and…. “Hush! My only task at the moment is to figure out which road to take for this morning, not decide my whole life.” Or was it?

If she headed South she’d soon be in town – coffee, headlines, Shirley’s cinnamon buns and people by the dozen to greet and catch up with. Was she ready for that?  She could shock people in her present life by pointing out that where she grew up there were no traffic lights for 25 miles in either direction. When she brought friends up here, she loved showing off how interconnected she was with almost everyone they bumped into – parents and grandparents of her contemporaries, childhood friends themselves. Those she had ridden the bus with. Those who’d gone to Illahee with her. Those who worked at the gas station now or served her coffee, or had probably made the scones. Those who were teachers – she had a classmate who was Athletic Director now at the high school and another who was the Spanish teacher…. Those with children…. her ovaries ached at that thought.

It would be cold along the beach road. She could take the path that skirted the south end of the pond and up over the ridge. There were new condominiums up there that she had been avoiding, fearful of their impact on the old trail. Would the salal and huckleberry still tower over her head? Could she still look back at the little farms, including her sister’s on the lowest slopes of the Mountain?

She’d come down the road from the East in the new morning, her brother-in-law feeding the animals in the barn, her younger sister Cali still asleep with her baby curled beside her. Other members of the eclectic household had been in various stages of morning business. Back there was coziness and camaraderie. Challenges too. The electricity between her and Gabe had been unmistakable last night, making her wonder why she had stuck to her lonely sleeping bag on the window seat…. Or she could stop at Sitka House to see if anyone there was up. Coffee would be offered or one of Owen’s herbal brews. Perhaps a leisurely breakfast….
To the north was the aerobic trek up to her parent’s house, its very smells familiar. Every light switch right where her hand knew it would be. Every pot that clattered in the kitchen just as it had always been…. Her parents busy with their good deeds, carefully not asking too many questions about her own plans of the moment or the longer term…..

Or she could turn off the side road and head to the Illahee School yard. That beloved place where every stump and thicket held memories. She could while away time on the swings or search out funky hideouts the current crop of children had created in the wooded hollows of the several acre site. She knew where the key was so she could even wander inside for more familiar smells.

As she stood there, balancing on one foot and then the other, a huge red dragon kite – its claws outstretched – rose above her out of the dunes, seemingly in response to her plea for direction.

“Nope. I’ve got no answers for you,” it grinned at her. “Neither would Hekete. I’m a stand-in this morning for the statue of her you haven’t yet made for this crossroads. All I can do is assure you that you’re on the right track. The questions are good ones. You will find your way.”