Words to Live By: “For Now”

We still have chances to step outdoors and experience life together, in community.

One of the oddities of putting out a weekly newspaper is that sometimes one realizes, at the moment when the paper is zipped up, and ready to go to press, that the whole thing has a theme.

The take-away theme of this week’s paper is “For Now” — a lovely phrase that came to us in a letter to the editor from Catherine Swearingen, the executive director of the Vashon Senior Center.

In her letter, which was also sent out as a newsletter posting from the Senior Center, Swearingen talks about the loveliness of July, when ever so briefly, the senior center fully re-opened for meals and maskless gatherings of islanders.

But now — or rather “for now” — meals are again taking place outdoors, and everyone is once again being asked to wear masks, for the safety of all. But thanks to the mantra of one of the center’s key staffers, the Senior Center is not approaching this new reality as something that will last forever. It is just something that is happening “for now,” as we all wait for better days to return.

The reasoning behind the mask-wearing, and the public health measures we should all be keeping in mind “for now” is explained in a front-page article that details current recommendations by the COVID Physician Task Force of Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps.

We do what we have to do when we live in the moment — that is something that this long pandemic has taught us all.

Another article that expresses that idea of living in the moment can be found in Lila Cohen’s story about a truly inspirational islander, Maarten Ribalet-Coesel — a teenager who served as one of Vashon’s unofficial mayors in 2020. Now, for the third time in her young life, she is facing the formidable foe of recurring cancer.

But “for now” she and her family are approaching this fight as the champions they know they are, raising awareness and funds to help not only Maarten but other children who have the same illness. We hope Maarten’s story inspires our readers to contribute to her cause, and face their own hard battles with the same courage and community-mindedness.

We are always grateful to run regular stories about Vashon’s history by Bruce Haulman and Terry Donnelly. This week’s installment from the writer/photographer duo takes a long look back at our island’s agricultural past, reminding readers — as we must be reminded — that Indigenous Coast Salish people lived on this land long before they were displaced by white settlers. Here, they tended the land and surrounding waters in a sustainable way for thousands of years.

So, “for now,” we must all do what we can, at this moment, to renew our protection of island ecosystems, in the face of climate change and increasing dangers.

In a more lighthearted way, this issue of The Beachcomber also advances another “First Friday” — a chance to see what new works of art have been created by islanders, and what summer outdoor experiences are being offered. Concerts in the parks are coming up; so is an outdoor aerial festival and a sound and light show.

These are our chances, for now, to step outdoors and experience life together, in community. We hope that islanders will partake, with as much joy as possible.

In closing, all of us at The Beachcomber send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Finnegan Scriver, a member of the Vashon High School Class of 2021, who died last week in a tragic accident. For now, and for always, Vashon will mourn this unimaginable loss.