Forgive me, Blogger, it has been three weeks since my last confession. But springtime is when many schools host their Young Authors Conferences and Writing Weeks. I’ve been busy telling stories, often in tandem performance with my son Eli.
That means rehearsing, planning, travel. Last Wednesday I had to hit the road early to spend the day at Helen Haller Elementary in Sequim, WA. With all its water, Washington State has marine highways, with ferries to carry cars along waterways and crossings. I was up by 5AM, caught the 6:20AM ferry from Edmonds to Kingston, and drove from there to the Olympic Peninsula.
Edmonds is my neck of the woods. I’ve admired many a sunset over the dock, like this impromptu shot I once took by cellphone, when caught without my camera. But sunrise is another matter entirely. The night before, I took care of all the details, laying out my clothes, Mapquesting school and ferry schedules, and arranging with my old friend, Mr. Coffee, to have a cuppa joe brewed and ready to go when I was.
It was still pitch black when I pulled into the ferry line.
The incoming ferry disgorged bikes, motorcycles, and cars, all scurrying off to follow the Pied Piper’s call to the city. After the last car drove off, we bleary-eyed travelers were loaded onto The Spokane.
As I pulled up, with a view of the water before me, I realized that l’Heure Bleue, The Blue Hour, was upon us.
Nothing is more fleeting than those precious moments between night and day, just at twilight and just before dawn. I even remembered to bring my camera to catch the details of my day.
We passed another ferry–two boats passing in the not-quite-night…
I couldn’t get quite the crisp shot I aimed for, because the camera started flashing the dreaded ‘change battery’ signal. Feeling smug, I loaded the extra battery I always carry in my case, and went to shoot my green van on the car deck from above.
The boat was practically deserted…
…but I saw beautiful patterns and details everywhere.
I had just enough time for a self-portrait…
… before heading back down to the car deck.
My camera started flashing again! Dang! My newly changed battery was out of juice! Bad dog! I had forgotten to recharge it.
I caught one last photo of our disembarkation, stashed my camera, and determined to enjoy a day without a lens between me and my world. Undocumented, but not forgotten, are the details of that day. The smell of salt in the air, the mist on the mountains, a dusting of fresh snow in the heights, cows grazing in the golden foothills. Best of all, 600 eager children, kindergarten through fifth grade, with bandaids on their knees, mismatched socks, shining eyes and open hearts. I wish I could show you the little guy with the buzz cut who came up after my last show and stammered, “You…you…you’re a beautiful girl!” It’s been a long time since this fiftysomething has heard that, and it made me smile from ear to ear. As I walked through the hall, big kids grinned and waved, or shyly asked for my autograph. Younger ones came running for a hug, and stuck to me like little velcro teddy bears.
I still had a long drive from the peninsula to catch the ferry home. I expected to just miss the 4:10, even without my camera to slow me down. They were loading when I pulled up. I didn’t even ask–the guy in the booth grinned and said, “You’re gonna make it.”
It had been The Blue Day, filled from start to finish with precious fleeting moments. It seemed fitting that The Spokane, which delivered me across the water, had come to take me home. I glanced at the dashboard clock. Even the tiniest detail fell into place, as if I had just come full circle. I took out my camera and, yes! it had recharged just enough to squeeze one more photo from a very tired battery.
All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.
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Say 20 Hail Mary’s and drink a shot of Bourbon, and return to confess in two weeks. 😉
Thanks, J.B.! That sounds about right!
Have a very happy week Ms. Naomi!! 😎
Wow! your camera/phone battery held up well! what a trip! thanks for taking us along – i love ferry trips!
Thanks for coming along. I came home and immediately charged both batteries. I hope that never happens again!
This was a great trip… now go and charge the batteries so we get to see more photos….
You are very sweet! Consider it done! (In fact, it already is!) Thanks so much for stopping by.
Nice post, girlie…
Thanks for the visit. You and I have taken quite a few very fine ferry rides all over Puget Sound. Looking forward to the next one, coming right up!
What a marvelous atmosphere, that blue! Marvelous day, marvelous post, marvelous expression on Eli’s face! Thanks for this story!
Thank you so much. Eli is so funny! One of the best things about tandem storytelling is that rehearsal is transformed from a chore into a hoot!
Mesmerizing story-telling. I’m making a good habit of looking forward to your posts.
That is such a very nice thing to hear. Thank you for that generous comment. I truly appreciate your taking the time to visit and to share your thoughts.
Sometimes being blue isn’t so bad. Your photographs are gorgeous, Naomi!
You are True Blue, and that is a wonderful thing! Thanks so much for stopping by.
That’s an impressive ferry. What a great day you had, love the compliment from your young friend. 🙂
When I first came to Seattle with my sister Constance, we would make a day of riding the ferries–picking a new destination each weekend. It is just one unique aspect of living in the Seattle area, which I LOVE. And working with kids of all ages is also a treat, and sometimes a kick in the pants. They will always say what they’re thinking, and I scored really big at a library last Halloween, when a little Sleeping Beauty broke away from the pre-school costume parade to give me a hug and the ultimate compliment. “You’re a…a…a PINK PRINCESS!”
The honesty of kids is endearing.
You have a wonderful eye for detail, Naomi, and I thank you for sharing it with us. You and my wife would have much in common in that regard. Those early morning hours can be tough, but have much beauty to offer us.
Thank you, Tom! Your eye for detail is one of the reasons I enjoy your letters from China. I think to be a good storyteller, you have to be an observer. It has served you well, and I’m so glad that you share that appreciation of all things, great and small, with your wife. Best wishes!
I loved the patterns, especially the hallway curving to the left with the empty seats, row after row. I’m glad your battery held up as long as it did – you got quite a few nice shots!
Thank you, Nancy! I love that shot too. The boat was rolling a little, (and so was I) when I snapped it. I could have corrected it with IPhoto, but I thought it captured the feeling of water beneath the boat. So good to hear from you!
Felt I was right there too! Good to hear about your storytelling. Blue day synchronicity – what a feeling!
I’ve been thinking of you, wondering how you are. So good to hear from you! I know when it comes to storytelling, you have been there, and done that, and understand the feeling. Love to you, dear friend!
Thank you for taking us along on your trip – enjoyed the story as well as the photos 🙂
Thank you for coming along! I appreciate your visit, and your very kind comments.
It’s great that you had the foresight to take your camera. The shots on board the ferry were especially cool. How many times have I been on one, and not paid attention to the ferry itself? Thanks for the reminder to look around, because the best view is not always the one outside the window.
So good to hear from you! Blogging has helped me think of my camera as something more than just a way to document family vacations. Even a routine ferry crossing turned out to be really visually compelling and thought-provoking. Thanks for taking the time to visit, and share your thoughts. You always have an interesting perspective.
4:06/6:04~ can’t help but think the blue full circle was something of magic. 🙂
I didn’t know if anyone would catch that, but the coincidence of those numbers made quite an impression upon me. Being an experienced cake artiste, you will understand when I say that it was the icing on the cake of a very delicious day!
good luck! (“…busy telling stories,
often in tandem performance
with your son Eli…”)
Hello! and thank you for your visit. I think one reason last Wednesday’s performance made such an impression upon me was because just the previous Monday I had put my son on a plane for Argentina. I was missing him, but determined to make the day a positive experience.
ooo love this!! thank you for sharing what a wonderful day trip for me thanks for taking me along!!
So glad you could come! I hope you’re feeling better!
What a fabulous thing to be able to do and with your son too! Would have loved to have been with you on the early morning ferry ride
I think you would be a very fun travel companion. I know from your wonderful blog, and your really unique photos that you have a great eye for the interesting and unusual! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.
So great that you can do this with your son! Must be so much fun. Do you tell original stories?
We have a wonderful time. The Baltuck/Garrard Family Storytellers are whichever Baltuck and Garrards happen to be in town for the booking. Eli left on Monday, I had my solo shows in Sequim on Wednesday, and on Thursday, I presentedin tandem with my husband Thom at an Edmonds elementary school’s family reading night. My daughter Bea is also an excellent teller. When Eli was away at college, Bea and I often performed together. Even rehearsing is fun when we get to do it in good company.
We tell some original stories, and when I perform alone, I sometimes tell personal stories. But when we tell in tandem, whether for children or an adult audience, it is usually our own adaptation of a folk tale.
WOW. What a way to spend with your son. Glorious pictures to remember your long day. I love the boy who came up to tell you,” you’re a beautiful girl.” Makes your heart melt, doesn’t it.
This is awesome as was the whole post, Naomi: “…stuck to me like little velcro teddy bears”. I had to hug myself. If my grandkids weren’t still in bed, I’d go hug them.
Thank you, Tess. I knew you understood exactly what I felt when you felt the urge to hug your grandkids. There is something so sweet and pure about a child’s simple expression of gratitude and affection, and it does melt the heart to be the fortunate recipient of the same. I was missing my own grownup son, having just packed him off to Argentina for nine months, and somehow this was a reassuring message from the universe that my kid-hugging days were not over! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments!
I love following your adventures! 🙂
Thank you, Angela!
Boy, what a great day! I love the photos and reading about this wonderful day.
Thanks so much for sharing the day with me. I appreciate your taking the time to share a comment.
I had tears in my eyes when I read the reaction of K-5 kids to your performance. Even when I imagined a little guy telling that “You…you…you’re a beautiful girl!.” What a praise for, I am sure, a wonderful sharing of your wonderful stories. i guess some fifties cry instead of smiling! But you are the best.
Naomi, when I can find all your stories including a big bunch of those I missed because of many “obviously” valid reasons!!! Are they on your facebook? Please respond!!! I will read in my “free” time. I love them because they reflect exactly my feelings but I can’t express them like you do.
Thank you for your beautiful message! It is always sweet to hear from you. If you tiptoe up to Natalie’s room, on her shelf you will find a book of my stories called “Apples From Heaven: Multicultural Folk Tales About Stories and Storytellers.” I love every story in that collection, and am proud to say that it earned four national awards. I am working on another anthology of stories to live by. You will know for sure when I’m done with that one. See you soon!
Loved the blue day. It was like a return to a place that will always be in my heart.
There is nothing quite like it, is there? It reminds me of a children’s picture book called Five O’Clock Charlie, about a retired draft horse in England that escaped through a broken fence every day at five o’clock, and trot by himself to the back of the busy pub where his farmer/ owner used to take him after a hard day’s work in the field. Charlie would stick his head in the back door and whinny to the cook, who would give him an apple tart and a kind word, just like always. That farmer never did get around to repairing that fence. I don’t think there is any such thing as a retired storyteller, either! Thank you so much for visiting, and sharing your thoughts.
I usually get jealous, reading your blog, since you’ve traveled to many places I haven’t, places I’ve longed to visit for many years, so it was nice to see all these great images and read the details about places right here in our Western Washington backyard!
My adopted grandmother Vi Hilbert was an Upper Skagit Elder. She said the Creator made the whole world, but came to live here on Puget Sound, because it was the most beautiful place in the world. I believe her!
Lovely photos, lovely day …. wonderful seeing Eli performing.
Thanks for your wonderful blog!
Looking forward to seeing you in person this Spring.
That will be lovely! Thanks for reading, and for your kind words.
The journey would have been worth it for that compliment alone 🙂 Wonderful post Naomi and equally lovely pictures.
Thank you, Madhu! It was definitely a worthwhile day!
that’s one of the nice things about a ferry, that it moves without your having to drive… more opportunities to study the sidelines. Too bad about the battery… you should know that when you don’t have a camera with you, or a battery… that’s always when you see the most incredible things. Loved the picture of you and your son. Can’t say the same about the portrait, though. I would have liked to see a better image of you… especially now, that I know you’re a beautiful girl (I thought so anyway).
Dear Shimon, you know how to make a girl smile!
Ah, you captured our blue hours in our “neck of the woods” perfectly. I live in Port Townsend and catch that ferry a lot. A lot. Very nice photo-essay!
Hi, Cheryl! Port Townsend is a beautiful place in the prettiest neck of the woods I know. Thanks for your visit, and for taking the time to comment.
Next time you’re my way, give me a shout – maybe we can meet for tea.
I would love that!
I loved this! Very well done, I didn’t realize that there was a special name for that time of day…but it’s beautiful! Thank you! It looks like a very tedious way to travel, but at least you found some fascinating moments in the day! Have a great week!
I love to be on the water. On nice days, there is time for a stroll on the deck, and all the water traffic to watch. Always boats and seagulls, sometimes seals, and once I saw a whale splashing thunder with his fluke. Inside there is usually people watching, which can be even more entertaining!
Ahhh people watching…one of my favorite activities! 🙂
Naomi, I quit my camera when three things happened. I realised I am not a great photographer and secondly my battery can not be re-charged and I lost quite a few rounds of photos but have not really missed them in a great way. I have my phone, but when I go somewhere new or even around my haunts I have a different outlook when I am only taking it in for myself and keeping it in my mind’s memory. I have found so many things just can not be experienced in a camera. Certainly I get it when you say you enjoyed the day without the lens between you and the views!
oh and wonderful post, as usual!
Thank you, Lesley!
The the photos.. I’m sure i knew that you were in this area.. but the pics brought back so many fun memories of taking the ferry across the sound. The beginning also reminded me of when I used to participate in the writing fair at Whitworth Uni.. and then while in my Master’s program we had to host the same fair.. so much fun.
That sounds lovely. The ferries were so marvelous to a native Detroiter. My sister and I used to ride them back and forth for fun, not even getting off. I would love to learn more about your writing!
I can’t remember the exact name of the writing fair. I think it was just the Whitworth University Writing Rally. It focused on bringing K-6 +/- and parents into a writing festival. It often focused on a specific children’s author and there would be a presentation. After the presentation, the kids would break into age appropriate groups and would go write their own story based on a loose theme. We would supply all kinds of art materials, paper, a variety of methods to bind the books. It was an awesome experience. I think more areas should have annual or bi-annual book writing fairs. So fun for the adults as well.
It sounds very cool!
What an amazing way to spend time with your son. Beautiful post. Beautiful pictures. And I’m so glad your battery was up to the task 😀
Thank you, Dianne. I appreciate your visit, and the time you took to share your very generous comments.
What a day! I forget to charge my batteries all the time.
And I was feeling so smug because I had my extra battery in my camera case, too. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Thanks for the visit.
You make me laugh! 😀
Kate, that is one of the nicest things you could say. Thank you so much for stopping by and making me smile.
That’s awesome that you do that for kids. They don’t need a whole lot to feel enjoyment, but when you’ve made them laugh or smile it’s the best feeling in the world! In a lot of ways I believe they do more for me than I do for them. 🙂
You are so right! I am so fortunate to be able to do this, and I never loved it so much as when my kids decided to join me.
Naomi, you are so lucky having a creative job you really enjoy and which involves your family.
I love your blue hour photos 🙂
Thank you, Sarah! I LOVE telling stories with my family. As always, it is so nice to hear from you.
Thank you Naomi. L’heure bleue is very real to me and intoxicating.
Yes, it is such a special time of day. Thank you for stopping by, and sharing your thoughts.
How lovely to share a thought with you.
Thank you for being there. It means a lot.
My kindest wishes,
“You…you…you’re a beautiful girl!” kids are so uplifting. what a day maker!
i remember my first young author’s conference like it was yesterday…yet it’s been nearly 30 years! priceless!
i loved reading about your trip to the peninsula and would love to see the pix you “squeezed” out of your near-dead battery.
i also love how you take small details and turn them into memorable delights!
What a wonderful message. Thank you so much for sharing your generous response, and really giving me a lift!
“You…you…you’re a beautiful girl!” kids are so uplifting. what a day maker! i remember my first young author’s conference like it was yesterday…yet it’s been nearly 30 years! priceless! i loved reading about your trip to the peninsula and would love to see the pix you “squeezed” out of your near-dead battery. i also love how you take small details and turn them into memorable delights! ~linda
I felt every excitement, adventure, fun and discovery in your words and images my friend. I imagined that I was riding the ferry too, seeing, feeling , appreciating, reflecting on life and all. “Nothing is more fleeting than those precious moments between night and day, just at twilight and just before dawn.” Thanks for sharing your stories and that of your wonderful family.
Dear Island Traveler,
Thank you so much for coming along for the ride. It is always so good to hear from you!
you’re right, it is the blue hour. Love that pic of you and your son – and your dress!
Thank you! I found that dress in a little shop in Ferndale, CA on the way down to drop my daughter off at college last September. It has been a year of goodbyes, but tomorrow she is coming home from spring break, and I am really looking forward to it.
Still catching up with you 😉 Loved this, the kids, the photographs…6:04 and 4:06 are not coincidences…there’s a word for it I know but I can’t remember it now. I’m glad to hear you had a wonderful time and more hugs across the internet and miles for you…Pink Princess Beautiful Girl! Love, Mary
I hear you! I am SO far behind, with my sister visiting, but am sneaking an early morning to catch up too! Thanks for the visit. You know, I was struck by the numbers–don’t know what it means, but I love to think it is more than coincidence. Thanks so much for your uplifting message. Hugs to you and your little royal family!
I enjoyed the trip! Have a great weekend
Thank you, Eunice! So glad you could come by.
After first week in April I hope to be back daily miss everyone.
I hadn’t commented on any of your blogs until now, but I’ve been reading them for a couple of weeks now. Of those that I’ve read, this is one of my favorites.
PS: I don’t like to use my name on the internet, but this should effectively tell you who I am: I participated in a reenactment of the Burr-Hamilton Duel with your daughter a little over two years ago. I was Hamilton.
I remember it well, and it still makes me laugh. I hope you are doing okay. Maybe you can e-mail me privately and tell me about your summer plans. I hope we can get our families together, but first I need you explain to me the strategy behind competitive Mexican Train Dominoes!
A great post all round!
I LOVE riding the ferries and enjoyed your happy story. I’ve never been there but I understand Sequim is in a rain shadow and enjoys a lot more sunshine than other communities along West Washington.
Yes, there is truth to the story of the Rain Shadow. Lots of people go there to retire, as it gets more sunshine and the cost of living is much less than in Seattle. Thanks so much for the visit, and for sharing your story here.