Back from the Island; Progress Report #72

A Quiet Spot

A Quiet Spot

Judy and I just got back from eight days on Santa Barbara Island, a one-mile-square island 38 miles off the coast of Southern California that is part of Channel Islands National Park. There is nothing on the island save for its plant and animal life and a bunk house. Water has to be shipped to the island. The residence depends on solar panels for electricity. Because of its distance from the mainland and the difficulty in actually getting onto the island (we had to spend an extra day due to rough seas), it receives few visitors. There is a significant native plant restoration project on Santa Barbara. It’s one of only two sites in the United States where the brown pelican nests. The National Park Service takes us out there as volunteer caretakers—the island has been subject to vandalism when left unattended—and we’ve been the only people on the island when we’re there. Our only contact with other humans is through the park radio system.

The day after we arrived, I walked up one of the island’s two peaks to sit in the grass, feel the stillness and listen to the sounds, all of which come from nature: the chirping of birds, the barking of sea lions, the buzzing of insects, the crashing of waves on the island cliffs, and the wind in the grass. After sitting for a while I became aware of another sound, a high hum in the background, which I believed was my nervous system, all jacked-up from city living. I was curious if the sound would lessen after being on the island for a week. On the next-to-last-day of our stay, I went back to my spot to check it out, and the humming had indeed subsided—considerably.

My Island Writing Desk

My Island Writing Desk

While on the island, I got a lot of work done on Street Song. Before leaving San Francisco, I made a list of the steps I need to take to finish the book. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to see them. There is still a ways to go, but the end is in sight. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling the last few months. I intend to stay home for awhile now and really get down to it.

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3 Responses to “Back from the Island; Progress Report #72”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Just getting excited about reading Street Song, Mark!!!! Not pressure, just the advent is approaching!!! I look forward….

  2. Andrew Says:

    I’m quite envious of your ‘Island Writing Desk’, what a beautiful, tranquil setting for you to work in. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  3. Sylvia Cooley Says:

    what an opportunity…to be the only people on an island, to share it with wildlife…so appropriate for you and Judy with your backgrounds and caring for wildlife

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