Just back from bucolic Marrowstone Island, a little Washington gem of farmland and the Nordland Store.
It is hidden away near Puget Sound, nestled up to Mystery Bay and not far from Port Townsend where dear are encouraged to roam the streets and dogs are welcome in all of its charming retail businesses.
What brought me to Marrowstone was Lisa Painter, a heap of feisty energy at 87 and who has given her beloved 25-acre ranch to Washington State University for use as a research farm.
Lisa lost her long-time companion a couple of years ago, a devastating impact, and wants to make sure the farm the two of them farmed for so many years continues to be used for agricultural, not condos.
While it all may look like she is getting things in order to join her friend, she is so full of life it is hard to imagine she is going to just sit back on the front porch and gaze at the Olympia Mountains until fate pays a visit.
I don’t think so. She loves working with the grad students already bustling about the place where the Extension has established an office to guide research. She talks about her love for the land in a way that makes one think she will be an eternal spirit dwelling in the pastures and planted land of her Twin Vista Ranch (you can see the Cascades looking one way, the Olympic Mountains the other.)
“Why didn’t you just sell the land and go to Hawaii for the rest of your life?” I asked, and ducked.
“This is my home,” she soundly affirms. “There is nowhere I would rather be. And, giving the land to WSU assures me that the farming practices we’ve begun here (organic beef and vegetables, solar and wind power) will be carried on.”
I knew that, but I love to ask about the obvious. Makes interviewing a little more fun.
I have to mention Lisa’s “best friend” and neighbor, Rita Kepler. She was there when Lisa lost her friend, Jeanne Clendenon, and she helped LIsa wade through the swampland of regulations linked to donating property. She helped me set up the interview, and was there to help explain the details of
The story, which is set to appear in the May Western Farmer-Stockman, is a feature tale of the kind of people needed in today’s budget-slashing university extension environment. Donations of land and money in the current environment of financial stress have never been more important or appreciated.
Aside from Marrowstone Island, I have to mention Port Townsend and nearby Poulsbo as quaint waterside villages that must be visited if you’re looking for a delightful getaway to visit little shops and restaurants, or a romantic hiatus by the sea. I guarantee you that these are places you will be glad you visited.
And if you get to Marrowstone Island, stop in and tell Lisa Painter she’s a renaissance woman of great achievement, a beacon to others, and just a nice lady.