Island life resumes ‘after the trails’

I heard you enjoyed five weeks of yarns from the late Virginia Ogden Elliot, the Island pioneer who bequeathed us her “Mercer Island Old and New” columns. A compilation of her work is on reserve at the library.

  • Wednesday, June 4, 2008 3:00pm
  • Life

I heard you enjoyed five weeks of yarns from the late Virginia Ogden Elliot, the Island pioneer who bequeathed us her “Mercer Island Old and New” columns. A compilation of her work is on reserve at the library.

Reader Rescues:

Nin referred to a “plaque in the memory of one of our best known pioneers in the library,” but today’s library could find no trace of it. Merigold Bolton Paul writes that it likely honored her aunt, March Gayhart, the “first and only librarian on the Island until the new library was built. She opened the little library in the Guild Hall of the Episcopal Church in East Seattle. How thrilled we all were to have a library! Sadly, her daughter and son-in-law, Dr. David and Anne Hurlbut, long-time MI residents, passed away last year, so we cannot know the plaque’s whereabouts.”

Gordon Overbye, who lives on the South end (2920 74th Ave. S.E.), reports the first siting of a fawn on the Island in recent years: “Three deer (two adults plus a fawn) wandered up into my yard from the brush below to the east on Friday, May 30, around noon. They nibbled on leaves, wandered around, then lay down and relaxed for a few hours, explored two neighbor yards, and returned by my yard around 8 p.m. They chased each other around the yard — have never seen deer play before — so amazing. They were still there by 9 p.m. but were gone the next morning.”

Wilderness report card: Husband, Bob, and I, like Nin, are nature lovers who recently trekked in the wilderness, beaches, gardens and historic spots from Yelm to Oregon City and from Bainbridge Island to Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula. While we reveled in this gigantic playground, we witnessed its fragile sides.

Dismayed by the excess of fallen and sheered trees and forestry slash in the Hoh, Olympic, Rainier and Oregon coast forests, I asked UI forest researcher Anthony Davis if we should worry. No, he said. The expansive graveyard of trees awash on the ocean shores, the compost heaps and toppled trees are part of the normal cycle of nature’s storms and man’s forestry.

“In tree life, it’s a blip. In another 20 years the fallen timbers and compost heaps will have provided shelter and nutrients for the eco-system,” he said.

Lots of trash on Puget Sound. Sue Gephardt, of Mercer Island, says it needs more aggressive pollution control. She is part of “Sound-Keepers,” citizen watchdogs of storm water runoff, a major pollutant by industry, municipalities, construction sites, boat yards, sand and gravel operations, and animal feeding lots. More about this after a Sound Tour, June 13, to see it all up close.

Those lush, wild and botanical public gardens are not all “walks in the park” to maintain either. For example, the Arbor Fund that supports the Bloedel Natural Reserve on Bainbridge Island seeks more support to maintain its 150-acre Eden of second-growth forest, meadows, ponds, specialty gardens, woodlands and French chateau with a spectacular sea view. The endowment of Prentice and Virginia Bloedel no longer is sufficient to keep it “public-perfect,” said docents.

Jane Meyer Brahm declares the 7th “Soiree a Thonon” on May 10 a big success, held in the “gorgeous home of Chuck and Ruth Hansing, perfect for “Une Ville Fleurie” (a town of flowers), parallel with Thonon’s designation as a “four-flower city in France.” The “Color MI Beautiful” flower pot project of the MI Arts Council, the Chamber and the MI Sister City Association set the scene for a fundraising auction, accordion music by Bonnie Birch, and David Gallimore on piano. Students helped sell raffle tickets, and the food was ooh-la-la: French desserts, cheeses, wines and champagne. Amanda Merkle, the pastry chef and daughter of Linda Todd and former Mayor Alan Merkle, and Linda Williams Rorem provided Tart de Vigneron; Ginger Almond Sponge with Vanilla Pastry Cream, pineapple and mango; Lemon Tart with berries; Chocolate, Pistachio and Tart Cherry Torte with Ganache; Mocha Ganache and Salted Caramel Tart; Macaroons, and  Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. Proceeds support exchange activities and an annual $500 award to a MIHS graduating senior for excellence in the French language. This year’s award goes to Taisha Barton-Rowledge at the Senior Awards Breakfast on June 6.

The shining faces of 125 West Mercer Elementary fifth-graders tell of their pride in their gift to the school — a permanent 7-by-20-foot mural that they painted under the direction of muralist Jose Orantes. Its “Biotic and Cultural” theme displays water, land, clouds, parks, island, decorated by plants, animals, people, freeways, churches, schools, buildings, homes, cars and signs.

Students brainstormed, sketched and transferred their work to the mural panels. Orantes helped with the overall composition and painting. It is now installed in the multi-purpose room for all to see. Orantes, a Guatemalan artist, has works in many U.S. galleries and has been an artist-in-residence for 11 years for the Washington State Arts Commission. Kudos to Katty Clark, fifth-grade art enrichment leader, who helped secure grants from the MI Community Fund, the MI Rotary and the West Mercer PTA for the project.

Final salute to 8-year-old West Mercer second-grader Kenneth Wang, son of Philip and Shueli Wang, for completing his “Giraffe Project,” under the direction of teachers Gail Calvo and Linda Pearson. Kenneth used his own allowances to make over 100 sandwiches to help feed the hungry. He and friends made them at home for St. Monica’s to deliver through Friends of the Needy.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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