We had taken the ferry over to Bainbridge Island. It was an unusually hot day. Every where there were sweating faces, the sun was high overhead and the air was still. We were on the island; what next?
The museum sounded boring and it was simply too hot for a hike, so we decided on a walk down a sorrowful past. The Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. It was right at this site that the Japanese settled in and around this area of North America were shipped off to the unknown; unwelcome in the country that had been their home for years. Tortured, burned alive, lost in the pages of harsh history. Today, colorful origami birds flutter in the gentle breeze here, keeping their memory safe.
My first introduction to the IInd world war was the Diary of Anne Frank, a girl of 11 (was that her age when she started to write?). Her family of Jews and their close friends hid in an attic for years while the Nazis killed off practically everyone they knew. Actually they tried pretty hard to kill off an entire race.
As a young teen I remember thinking how silly it was of Anne to complain about the boredom of peeling potatoes in hiding and why was their a book published of all her thoughts. Somewhere along the pages, by the time I had followed her father to the concentration camp where Anne and her mother had spent their last days I knew this was real. A little girl, trying to survive and a cruel horrible world that had made sure she was not around to see how long her ramblings in her dear diary lived on.
There was no one around. And yet there were stories all around. Real people. Sakai who was 20 and could sing. There was Shinichi, a 16 year old who survived the war and moved to Philadelphia after. Nakaan confessed he felt like a 2nd class citizen. Numerous farmers who were scared to face their neighbors. Broken, but not defeated. Terrified, but determined to settle back to a way of life they were unwilling to give up. And all the while those birds beckoned us. Who made them? Who put them up? Who strung them together and made sure they shone under the bright sun? The paper hadn’t faded and neither had the tales.
We reached a promising path and walked on. Little knowing that the sorrowful past was giving way to a hopeful heartwarming future. The shade of those tall trees, the slippery wild ferns and vibrant pink flowers peppered along the trail kept us company. Lazywiz claimed he knew where we were heading. I followed, not really caring.
There was a promise of adventure. The war was fast receding from thought and instead Alice and a bunny seemed to be sprinting down a rabbit hole. We could hear the waves, the crackling of dry twigs. A young couple ran by, with a huge spirited husky alongside. A family of four carried portable chairs, even the kids had small ones.
There was a faint splash of water as we took the next turn. We moved formed expectantly. To our left a few pebbles skittered along the sandy slope. We turned to a barely visible trail and a few steps later found our selves on a sandy muddy beach. The sun was blinding by this time and the water sparkled.
I walked in a daze closer to the water, drawn to the laughter. Children. Small ones. In a world of their own. Were they imagining themselves as sailors? Nah.. that was too limited a word.. These were voyagers.. explorers.
As a kid when I would read Famous Five or any Enid Blyton adventure books I always wondered how did the children manage to row boats, disguise themselves, solve mysteries and have such an absolutely thrilling time. I got the feeling that I was a silent reader of this adventure right here, right now.
A log floated by. The explorers set sail. Who knew what lands they would discover, what wonders would greet their eyes! I simply sat and watched (and took a pic or two.. of which later Lazywiz and I had a separate discussion, but I will save that for another time).
Adventures make one hungry. So, one valiant hero ran back to the shore to gather food for his hungry crew. It looked like he had to steal the cookies from his younger brother, a loyal footman on gaurd, while the evil king and queen took a nap. But, for the greater good of discovery what’s a little bending of rules. He bribed the little guard with a cookie or two and made his way back on another floating log where his hungry friends hailed him with victory cheers.
Not far off another son was learning to row, his proud father an eager instructor. The profusely sweating mother had probably been dragged into the heat, but everyone was together. The ship that had brought us to the island, passed by. All kids cheered. A group of seagulls soared away, not particularly taking to the excitement. A tiny toddler who was in hot pursuit, fell into another girl’s sand castle and added to the excitement. We watched.
Sure, there are wars. Man tears man apart. People are killed. Work is a mess. Deadlines. Heavy traffic. Exhaustion.. But, these children were untouched. I need to believe they were not yet a part of the madness. A few steps had taken us from the debris of the war to the uplifting infectious positivity of youth. The future holds possibilities. Their future is somewhere out there, and with themselves they keep afloat an entire generation clinging on to hope.