My Herb Farm on Fox Island
Tom and I had been married for two years already. We had spent those first two years in the wild mountains of Montana, exploring ghost towns and abandoned gold mines, pressing wildflowers and learning to fly fish. It was heaven on the weekends, but Tom’s new job was not going as well. He had been hired to come in and turn a small company around. None of his ideas went over well with the sales team and one morning he called, his voice hushed, his breathing quickened.
“Guess what I found on my desk this morning?” he asked. “A bumper sticker that says, “We don’t care how they do it in California.” That explained a lot about the opposition to his ideas.
After a year of struggling to win hearts and minds, and watching that little company go on “credit hold” more times than anyone should be comfortable with, he made the hard decision to swallow his pride and go back to the company he had left in California…only this time, he would be helping out the Seattle office.
I was excited about the move, especially after I took one look at our new town, Gig Harbor, Washington, a picturesque New England whaling town look-alike with a view of the sound, a harbor, and a view of Mount Rainier that was to die for.
Within a year we were ensconced in a reproduction Victorian farmhouse on five wooded acres on Fox Island, about 50 miles from Seattle. It had a “barn” like building that had been designed to hold a small plane, a chicken coop, and a goat the owner attempted to persuade us to keep as a lawnmower. We had never been farmers, and did not keep the goat, but I fell in love with the property. I immediately put in a formal herb garden and set up shop in the barn. I painted it, hung herbs from the rafters to dry, and set it up as a school for women who wanted to learn how to make wreaths and topiaries from dried flowers and herbs. I called it “Little Fox Farm ~ Herbs and Flowers.” I took classes in market gardening and watercolor painting. I jumped on the ferry and went up to Seattle to wholesalers, buying things for my business. Life was good and I was living on my own little piece of heaven.
Unfortunately for Tom, his drive of two hours up and back in the rain from Seattle to Fox Island (traffic and weather), was not his little piece of heaven at all. That was back in Montana and he was not a happy camper. One year later, when the company arbitrarily decided they wanted us to move to Bend, Oregon, we moved back to Montana to start our own business instead. Never again would Tom be under someone’s thumb. But life back in Montana would take a series of turns that would both horrify us and fill us with joy. Stay tuned!