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The Reserve – and “Rebecca”

April 19, 2014

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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.

 

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“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
delightful….”
August 29

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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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