My Heart’s Home


From the moment I drove off the ferry onto the island, I knew I was home.

No other place on the planet that I’ve ever visited has tugged on my heartstrings the way this one has.  I am relaxing into the knowledge that it is my true heart’s home and that someday I will live there again.


For now, it is enough to visit.  Saturday was blissful.  There were morning conversations at the Farmers Market, getting caught up on people’s lives, exchanging hugs and well wishes, hearing “The island misses you!” over and over again . . . oh and I miss the island, I do I do.  A ten minute massage from Michele at her booth at the market turned into at least twenty.  I felt so cared for and nurtured.  There were thoughtful words exchanged with a farmer friend who is now battling cancer and can no longer farm.  He’s given so much to this community.  I ended up buying two pastel paintings from Jyl, one a scene of Legoe Bay that I’ve admired for years and another one of Lovers Bluff.  I know just the spot to hang them at Rainbow Cottage.

I helped Colleen at the bake sale for Beach School (two plates of gluten-free cookies, yay!) and bought a ceramic plaque of an orca whale made by Ona, age 9, at the fundraiser. (The community plans to make up the 33% budget cut the school district imposed on the island school.)

Back on our lane, Colleen’s lilacs were in full bloom.  When I breathed deeply, I inhaled lilac perfume and tangy sea salt.  Ahhhh.  Across the road, we visited my house, warmly welcomed by our tenants.  Such a joy to see my herb garden, spilling over the stone borders in a riot of color and texture and scent.  I gave our tenant Nancy a garden tour as she furiously took notes so she would know exactly what all these strange plants were.  I remember planting every one:  motherwort, San Juan sage, English sage, sweetgrass, comfrey, oregano, garlic chives, thyme, rosemary, sweet woodruff, lilies of the valley, ladys mantle, echinacea, valerian, Spanish lavender, columbine, miniature rose, violets, beach strawberry.  And Nancy and her family have started a vegetable garden — so lovely to see that.


I thought it would be really difficult to walk into my old house and see other people’s furniture and things there.  But no, it didn’t seem strange at all. And it wasn’t sad.  They are taking great care of the place, and are very happy there, and I am thankful for that.

The rest of the day passed joyfully, visiting gardens and woods and the shore. I think I had a goofy grin on my face all day long. Colleen and I strolled around Sculpture Woods; it’s been at least a year since I was there.  I love the boat/bones theme Ann M. is working with these days.  We made a quick jaunt over to the LIHT environmental center where we were charmed by a display of haiku-like poems written at different spots all over the island, each one attached to a map of the place where they were penned.  (More hugs here too.)  A visit to Lis’

peony farm and a warm welcome from John & Diana at their garden sanctuary — a truly magical spot if there ever was one.  This is where John tends his native plant nursery and Diana makes her flower essences. There must have been a couple of dozen hummers there, plus all kinds of birds swooping from feeder to feeder and tree to shrub to flower. I was delighted by a flutter of wings close to my ear, the rat-a-tat-tat of a pileated woodpecker and soft “hoooo-hoooo“ of a barred owl in the woods.


I picked up Colleen & Keenan (age 12) back at the bake sale — they took in $1500 for the day, hooray! — and we drove up the mountain to return the espresso machine that had been on loan for the day.  On the way, we stopped to see Lynn D. and her shimmering raku pottery.  She recommended that we visit a new illustrator on the island so we backtracked to the west side.  To my delight, I discovered that he is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators, the author/artist of Storm Boy and Frog Girl.  He’s done a series of pencil island vignettes that I longed to purchase but put off for another day.  He has a gorgeous house and a killer view, too.


We had supper at the cafe, where a BBQ party was goin’ on in the beer garden. There were more familiar faces and conversations and hugs.  I stroked the chair where my dad would always sit to eat Joe’s great fish and chips, my eyes misting up a bit.  I remembered the night some years ago when the full moon was rising over Komo Kulshan (aka Mt Baker) and Meredith turned out all the lights in the cafe so everyone there could just watch . . . Her, luminous, huge, extraordinary, lighting up mountain, water and cafe with her radiant glow.


The day ended on the west side’s rocky shore — we found our beach glass right away! — snuggled up against a driftwood log to watch the evening show.  Do we ever tire of the shifting colors of sky and sun and sea, the sound of waves casting stones on the shore, the delight of seal heads bobbing above the water and fish jumping high?  I think not.

I offer up my heart in praise, in gratitude, in utter and complete bliss. Oh blessed, blessed be.


12 thoughts on “My Heart’s Home

  1. My eyes almost filled with tears reading this because I recognize myself so much in your writing. To be in a necessary but maybe unwilling exile from your Heart’s Home. And the bittersweet sensation when you can come visit there on rare occassion. Me too hope for a time when I once more can walk in the forests and on the meadows of My Home…

  2. The island is patient, and Heron House is yours always. Let your heart meantime be cradled by the shelter given to you at Rainbow Cottage. You are doubly blessed.
    Big love to you, Joanna. – Beth Owl

  3. Your openhearted presence to this experience is inspiring, Joanna. I’m in the midst of some upheaval around my own sense of place, though for me it’s the “place” where my healing business belongs. Seeking home…remaining present to my experience of discomfort and being unsettled… I love your clarity about where your Heart’s Home is. I trust my own will emerge — perhaps soon!

  4. Sister Joanna, how beautiful to read of your return to the island and feel the deep love you have for it.
    Having found your heart place, it will be with you forever. As above so below…. According to an Iroquois creation tale, the world turtle carries the earth on its back, and its thirteen scales are the thirteen moons of a calendar year. Just so do we here on the earth carry our heart places with us wherever we go.

  5. Beautiful account of your return to the island, Joanna. I particularly loved reading the passage of your ocean reverie–driftwood, sea glass and the “shifting colors of sky, sun and sea”. That really resonates with the artist in me. Lovely description. This reflection is vested in so much tangible emotion that I felt myself thinking you will always be part of that island no matter what. Thank you for sharing.

  6. What a wonderful, bittersweet description of returning to home. It’s funny, when you visited here in Brooklyn, I had a feeling you’d be returning there one day too. BTW, you’re writing about Paul Owen Lewis? Say hi for me—he’s an old friend from my days in children’s books. Thea loves his Storm Boy book.

  7. JoAnna, this is such a beautiful love story. Few people in this world find great love with a person or a place and you seem to have found both. And you have the amazing fortune of having both close to you. When I read this I thought of all the people I have met who have an attachment such as yours to a place. But, that place has been destroyed by war and they live in exile. Just think about how it grows in their hearts – the beauty and the sadness both.

  8. Dearest Joanna,
    I can relate to the heart’s home and being in exile – I felt that way every time I returned to Wales while I lived in Canada. Now I am living here again, I still feel as connected to the land as I always did. Yes, I have fulfilled that yearning to be “home” – yet I now feel in exile from all those I love in the US and Canada – and from the beauty of the Pacific Northwest – my heart grieves for all I have lost and, despite the pleasure I find in the heart of my home, there is little joy – your love story touched that sorrowful place in me. I am happy you are so close to and can visit the land you love and have such joyful memories of, as well as be surrounded by the people you love and cherish. Carol xx

  9. Dear Joanna,
    I have lived in Maine all my life (all 57 years!) and although there are other places on the planet I have loved to experience, my heart always is here as well. Since Maine is Pisces, I do believe she brings many healers and speakers for the soul to her shores! It is always wonderful to experience her through the eyes of someone who loves her so deeply and so well.
    Many blessings, Donna

  10. Thank you all for your heartfelt comments. I’ve pondered on them quite a bit this past week, especially Cate’s thoughts on carrying our heart home with us everywhere we go, and Colleen’s on people’s heart places who have been destroyed by greed or war. And Carol, who is divided between our glorious Pacfic NW and her Welsh homeland. Kris, yes, it was Paul Owen Lewis, but I barely said hello to him – he was surrounded by admirers! I’ll meet him again one of these days. Donna, my island is not in Maine but in the Pacific Northwest just south of the Canadian border. My son, DIL and grandbaby live in Maine though and I have been amazed at how similar the island landscape is to ours here. Islands have always attracted artists and healers, I think.
    Funny thing, is that this week I’ve become happier with my new home here at Rainbow Cottage, making plans with Craig for new gardens and new tile in the kitchen. So getting re-centered in my island heart’s home is making me happier with my “other” home. Much to ponder. Thank you all.

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