“If there is any place to heal or get comfort it is in a beautiful place like that.”
The beaches of Camano have been places of comfort and healing to many. Jerri Gunderson now lives in Brisbane, a sweet little community near San Francisco but from 1997 to 2011 she lived in the Saratoga Terrace community overlooking Elger Bay.
Her husband, Steve, who was an engineer at Kimberly Clark in Everett, had always wanted to build his own home, but he had never had the time to do that. However in 1997 they found the perfect place for their home and moved into a trailer on their lot to begin Steve’s lifelong dream of building his own home. Three years after their home was completed, Steve passed away from a serious heart attack. Jerri sprinkled his ashes in the bay because “he loved Elger Bay.” She stayed there for 9 years after that.
Jerri healed by walking on the beach that Steve loved. At that time, there were only a few homes sprinkled on the beach. The Saratoga Community owned a grassy lot with a covered area with a picnic shelter, and a boat ramp. “I walked the beach a lot in the mornings. There was seldom anyone there to disturb the solitude and peace except the eagles and seagulls. Over time, the beachfront became more developed – with large homes filling in all the empty spaces. It no longer seemed the welcoming place it had been beforeand so she discontinued her walks, enjoying the bay from the community beach lot or from her view on the hill. Jeri told me that she read somewhere that only Washington and Rhode Island are only states where the beaches are not open to the public, where the beaches and in some cases the tidelands can be privately owned.
Perhaps even more instrumental in comforting and healing Jeri was her stunning view. “People always say if you have a view like that after a while you just don’t notice it that much. But I never had that experience. The view was never the same. The shape and color of the clouds always changed. The sky had a myriad of subtle colors. The Olympics were quite elusive, sometimes visible sometimes not. Whidbey Island could be sharp and crisp as though it had moved closer or it could hide in a fog bank. The color and movement of the water changed the view. The sunsets were glorious. There was usually activity such as boats sailing by on the straits beyond the bay, people playing on the beach, or wildlife. She remembers once sitting on her deck and watching a parade of old sailing boats that were going to Seattle. From February – April, Jeri watched Grey whales came into the bay because it’s a shallow and has a sandy bottom ( Gray whales eat crill that live in sandy bottoms. ) “You could see them sweep through, go up on their sides, use their fins to make a hole on the bottom, and the crill would come up with the sand from the hole and float in the water, and the whale would make a quick turn to feed,” she told me.
“If there is any place to heal or get comfort it is in a beautiful place like that; Elger Bay was a lovely place to remember our happy times together. Living in our home did not make me sad. It was comforting to be there because both of us had loved it so much. . “God used the bay to bless me .”