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The Reserve – and “Rebecca”

April 19, 2014


I was back on the Reserve today: Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve to be exact. Most Whidbey Islanders know it. It’s a beautiful combination of beaches, forests, prairies, historical farms, and a town – Coupeville, WA. The majority of Reserve lands were originally the land claims of settlers here – like Issac Ebey. While preparing for my show about Isaac Ebey’s wife, “Rebecca”, I spent many days and weeks here.

As I drove down Ebey Road, I was struck once again by the beauty, a richly textured patchwork of black and green and gold fields.  Here and there, the landscape is dotted with barns and farmhouses.  Simple signs along the roadside- “barley”, “alfalfa”, “vegetables” –  harken back to those early settlers, who were all farmers.



“Day to windy to raft timber, working in the garden all day – Wind this
evening blowing quite hard and cool.”
Rebecca Ebey’s diary – Tuesday June 8, 1852

The wind (as usual) was whipping across those fields, and, in the sea beyond, large whitecaps rippled across it. I thought about Isaac and his neighbors – Indian and white – paddling across that water.

“This evening at bed time, Mr. Ebey arrived from Olympia accompanied by
Mr. Bailey. They were almost exhausted after having walked a great distance
leaving their canoe and Indians on account of high winds in the evening.”
July 9

But despite the dangers and hard work, I’m sure those pioneers sensed the beauty of this land. In her diary, Rebecca seemed to put those feelings into words for them:

“This is a beautiful day with a mild and pleasant west breeze. The waters
are calm….The beautiful green trees and clear sunbeams make everything
August 29



After several hours of walking the beaches and the trails, it was time to go. As I drove away, I made a mental note to come here more often. Because each time I do, I learn something new about Rebecca… and Isaac…  and the story of their lives – perhaps even a little about myself. And I am grateful for the legacy they left us.



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