Tides of Change

It was 1975 when I first stepped ashore on Herron Island. I’ve been here off and on ever since. I’ve come to realize this unique little island offered childhood Suzie constant stability amid frequent changes over which she had no control, and became a place of peace and security she had not previously known. Herron Island helped shape her into the person I became and it still holds my heart in its salty grasp.

Lieutenant Peter Puget was an officer in the British Royal Navy exploring our local waters under the command of Captain George Vancouver. Puget first saw the island treasure we know as Herron in May 1792, calling it Wednesday Island according to the English Calendar. (It was a Tuesday in America.) This jewel in Case Inlet, just offshore from the Key Peninsula, is just 1-1/4 miles long and 1/2 a mile wide. Wednesday Island later became Herron Island when the U.S. Navy’s Wilkes Expedition charted Puget Sound in 1841. The name was changed to Herron to honor ship’s carpenter Seaman Lewis Herron, not the lanky Great Blue Heron often seen along our shoreline.

But I was just a 7-year-old girl who rarely strayed from the cul-de-sacs of Puyallup the first time I saw Herron Island. I was the youngest of five in a large, busy family where my older siblings sometimes saw me as a hindrance. But on Herron, I literally dove into the nature that called to me as a new islander.

By the time I turned 11, I was driving my stepdad’s Blazer.

My family started with a trailer and built our home over time. I combed the beach, dug clams and collected shells. I searched for salamanders in the woodpile and crabs under rocks. I climbed ravines and built forts in the trees. My friends and I jumped off pilings, floating logs, or from the giant rope swing on One Way Road, and never missed a chance for a good jellyfish fight. I hardly ever remembered to “check in” with my parents, and often walked home alone on brilliant starlit nights, along the glowing phosphorus waters of my island home.

I came of age on nature’s stage. I cherish those days and am thankful for this place. I’ll tell you more about it next time.

Sue Kingsbury-Surratt is the health technician at Evergreen Elementary School in Lakebay and is a cashier at Food Market in Key Center.