POSTSCRIPTS: Guess what? Not much has changed on beautiful Hat Island. And that's just the way the Hatters like it.
Editor’s note: In Postscripts, we catch up with some of the people and places we’ve visited in Pacific NW magazine.
I WENT, I SAW, I waved.
Back in June, unable to mind my own business and assigned a story because of that, I visited Hat Island, a tiny private residential island. It’s just 4 miles from Everett in physical distance but a million miles away from crowded, stressful modern life by mental reckoning.
It’s the kind of place where not much happens, and that’s on purpose. I met friendly people, waved many times and petted some dogs. I also learned the ins and outs of private island-ing, such as, how do you get a car there? (Barge.) How do you re-roof your house? (You bring the roofers on your boat.) How do you get there if you don’t have a boat? (Private walk-on ferry.)
An end-of-year check-in with some Hatters revealed six months of … not a lot, by mainland standards. It’s tough to catch up with a place whose reason for being is that it’s so far under the radar, it has fallen off. Which is how Hat Island likes to roll.
Full-time islander Lori Christopher filled me in on a laundry list of Hattery. (“I work full-time thanks to high-speed internet, and I don’t miss the commute one little bit.”)
• Since summer, islanders learned from a University of Washington mycologist how to forage for and prepare wild mushrooms.
• A bumper crop of apples led to a cider-pressing party.
• The annual Oktoberfest was well-attended, and Hatters played in golf tournaments on the island’s postcard-beautiful course and shopped a craft fair.
• The third annual Friendsgiving had 25 guests, Christopher says, ranging in age from “8 to 80 plus.”
The island is just a mile-and-a-half long, so it’s more like a big neighborhood. Neighbors take note of “For Sale” signs, and newcomers are easy to spot.
“Seems like we’re meeting new people all the time,” Christopher writes.
Real estate agent Kimla Weller reports that she had five vacant lots on Hat “in contract as of Thanksgiving,” and two of the buyers are from out of state.
Perhaps the busiest group on Hat is the wildlife. Whales, harbor seals and lots of birds populate the waters, the marina (we’re looking at you, partying seals) and the trees.
Christopher, like so many this past summer, was moved by the plight of the orca known as Tahlequah, the mourning female that carried her dead calf for 17 days. Christopher’s watercolor of the pair, called “See Me,” was shared thousands of times on Facebook, attracted coverage from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and was posted on seattletimes.com in response to a callout to readers. Sales of “See Me” prints allowed Christopher to “donate over $3,000 to the Orca Network (they’ve been great to help us identify the whales we see) and the Center for Whale Research,” she writes.
As far as excitement, the ferry schedule changed. (No, that Thursday sailing is not a mistake!) The dock location changed. (But you still have to use the dumpster reserved for Hat.) The ferry was out of service for 10 days for annual maintenance. Sporadic power outages peppered the island. Gunshots were reported at Zero Dark 30 a few times. Spooked neighbors, if they knew who the shooters were, were advised by the island’s Facebook administrator to “kindly ask them not to do this.”
Take that, Next Door.