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I lived on an island for awhile, when I was between the ages of eight and ten. My family moved from Roswell, New Mexico to Puerto Rico when my dad was transferred to Ramey Air Force Base.

It was very cool. White sand beaches, palm trees, hermit crabs to occupy our sand castles. Balmy weather punctuated every year by terrifying threats of hurricanes. BIG bugs. Even though we lived on base, amidst the regimented confines of military life, it was still a kid's adventure. When my dad decided in 1970 to take retirement and we moved to Texas, my anticipation of yet another new environment was tempered by a feeling of sadness in leaving island life.

I don't think you could find an island as unlike Puerto Rico as Sauvie Island (unless you ventured to the Arctic Circle), but I'll say that, were I to forsake the close-in allure of Portland living, Sauvie Island is where I would live.

Cross the bridge and it's like entering the Shire, I kid you not. All that's missing are the short rustics with a taste for second breakfasts, and you could probably find at least one of those if you asked around (no offense to short rustics, and who doesn't like a second breakfast?). You know the boxes of granola or muesli or other tree-huggy foods with the bright pictures of rolling green hills and farms you see lining the shelves at the market? That's what Sauvie Island looks like. Sauvie Island should totally sue for profit share.

Once known as Wapato Island (or Wappatoo, but that one makes me think of tobacco juice spitting contests), the island is now a haven for lavender farmers and those who love them, long straight flat roads and the cyclists who crave them, and pumpkin patches and the carvers who might harbor deep-seated interpersonal issues. And cows. And horses. We saw at least one pig. Tractors and houseboats and anglers, oh my. Take a kid to this place and you risk rubber-necking flirtations with whiplash.

And birds. LOTS of birds. The Wapato Greenway affords an easy hike and views of blue herons and other waterfowl, plus ospreys in the spring and summer and bald eagles during winter.

The island has beaches too. This is where things go a little off-center, where things slide from bucolic rusticism to Portland Bohemianism. Collins Beach is clothing-optional and competes with Rooster Rock for the attentions of the discerning unclad. One would think this juxtaposition of farm folk and unfettered flesh would be cause for consternation (at least for said farm folk), and every once in awhile I'm sure somebody walks a naked step or two farther than a neighboring property owner's comfort zone extends, but overall people seem to get on quite well. I suppose the island populace figures these nudistas will eventually put their pockets back on and then reach into them to pay for pumpkins or fresh produce on their way back over the bridge, and in the meantime they don't seem to scare the cows, so it's all good. That's a pretty healthy viewpoint.

No, I'm not posting pictures of Collins Beach. It was cold.

For more barely-competent attempts at photography, feel free to have a look at my photo albums on this website.  Enjoy!

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Tags: Island, Sauvie

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