THE PICTURES ARRIVED in a padded envelope, addressed in familiar handwriting. Inside were thirty-some photographs of logs and fishing boats, a dock, cabins, and a house under construction. Familiar with all of them, after nearly twenty years Maggie had asked for them back. Returning them to the envelope, she placed them on the scanner and looked out the window.
It was all she’d expected then, without a thought that it would ever be different. On a summer night, they’d arrived in the wee hours. They set the tent up on the floatplane dock and crawled in, leaving their gear in the skiff. She fell asleep to the noise of the waterfall and when she woke it was to the sound of boots on the planked surface beside her and the sound of an airplane overhead. She peeked out and was greeted by a dark-haired man with a cup of coffee in his hand.
“You must have gotten in late or I would have heard you. You probably want to move your tent before the plane gets here and they start unloading freight. My name is Jase; you must be Pete’s wife.”
“Yeah, we got in late. Nice ride, the water was flat calm. I’m Maggie.” Fully clothed, she kicked out of the sleeping bag and crawled from the tent. Pete was down the dock, talking to a man on a fishing boat.
“Let’s get your tent moved for this plane.” Jase grabbed a corner and she helped him drag it across the float. She placed a full, 5-gallon fuel can in the center, hoping it wouldn’t blow away when the plane took off. They turned as it landed and taxied to them. The pilot jumped out to secure the aircraft, shooting a puzzled look at the tent. He glanced at her before greeting Jase and another man who’d come down the ramp to meet the plane. The pilot opened the back door and a passenger climbed out, a woman in full make-up and very blonde hair. With his passenger safely on the dock, the pilot jumped in and started passing out suitcases, boxes of groceries and a mailbag. The woman, obviously no stranger, greeted Jase with a hug and handed a package to the man, who’d loaded her bags into a dock cart.
“No passengers heading out, Frank. All I have for you is this bag of mail.” Jase handed a yellow bag to the pilot, and turned to introduce her.
“This is Pete’s wife, Maggie. Sorry about the tent; they got in late last night and didn’t want to haul everything up the ramp and wake everybody.” Frank shook her hand and nodded.
“No problem. Be sure you hang onto your tent when I take off so it doesn’t go flying,” he chuckled. “Your first time out to the bay?”
“It is. This dock isn’t very comfortable, so I guess I’d better get the tent set up on something a little softer if I’m going to stick around,” she smiled.
“Not a bad idea. I’m sure Jase will let you stay in the store for a night or two if you need to.” Frank looked at Jase, who nodded his head toward Pete.
“I already offered, but Pete said they’d tent it on the flats until they get their property cleared. Fine with me, wherever you want to stay – nobody out here will care.”
Frank nodded and turned to untie the plane. They stood back while he pushed off into the current and started the engine, watched as it taxied out to the middle of the bay and as he throttled forward, she jumped to grab the tent before it caught the prop wash. As the plane lifted off, she saw Pete heading her way.
“I see you met Jase.” His face was bronzed brown and tough by many days on the water, his blonde hair glinting in the sun. She doubted she looked that good and sighed.
“Is there an outhouse or something around here, or do I claim a bush?” She laughed.
“Head on up; bathhouse is on your right and there’s a bathroom in there. Feel free to use one of the hot tubs.” Jase helped her with the tent as Pete headed to the skiff and grabbed their duffel bags. As they headed up the ramp she wondered just how rough it could be to live in a place with natural hot and cold running water.
She looked around. Sunlight shimmered off the surface of the water. The tide was up, making the ramp an easy hike to the boardwalk above. Across the bay she noticed an opening leading into the forest beyond, and wondered where it went. The waterfall at the head of the bay met the saltwater with a roar, foam and spray flying in the sun. A boardwalk followed the beach around from the dock to the waterfall. In between, several houses – summer cabins, she was later informed – lined the walk. Doors were open and people were outside. One lady was working in her garden, an old bathtub filled with dirt sitting on the corner of her deck. The day was heating up and folks were getting ready to head out on the water. Coolers were loaded onto carts, fishing rods stood next to piles of life jackets, and everywhere the pungent aroma of saltwater, seaweed and evergreens permeated the air. She smiled at the thought of belonging to a place such as this.