Monday, November 23, 2009
A fond farewell to our friend and good neighbor Ib Werner Christensen
I met Ib 20 years ago after buying into the community of Salmon Beach. His one story cabin was the first place to the north of mine, so close that our roofs actually were connected at the trail end over our boat decks. Over the years as tends to happen in such a close community, Ib became a part of our family. His advice and generosity towards me and my family was the kind that I had been use to getting from my mom’s dad. Even though Ib was the kind of man that enjoyed his privacy, he rarely turned down an invitation to dinner and for a few years running accepted an invite to Mom an Dad’s Christmas Eve dinner at their place on Fox Island. He only stopped coming when he felt to unsteady on his feet to make the steep stairs to the second floor of the barn where we gather each year.
In the beginning our interactions were limited to beach business since our place had to be rented out full time. When our first renters had to move and we ended up renting to collage students from University of Puget Sound, we had the summers to do our cleanups and repairs and also got a better opportunity to get to know our neighbors, and for them to get to know us. Some of the best times were when in the afternoon, after his mid day nap, Ib would sit out on the little strip of deck next to the boat ramp on the south side of his cabin. This was the perfect spot to catch the afternoon sun and he would sit there smoking his pipe and enjoy a glass of wine. He wouldn’t say anything but you knew he was there. The complex aromas of salt air, fresh cut fire wood, and pipe smoke will always remind me of Ib (although I think that the pipe smoke would probably do it by itself). If Ib felt like visiting he would call over to me that I was working to hard and should sit with him for a little while and “swap lies”. Always a good invitation to accept. He was always good about reminding me and Rhonda that there was a time to work and a time to appreciate living at Salmon Beach. If he was out on his deck for the sunset and could tell that we were going to miss a good one we would here him calling “Scott, is time for the sunset” so Rhonda and I would stop what we were doing and come out to the front deck and quietly, with Ib on his deck and me and Rhonda on ours, we would watch the sun go down over the harbor. We all need to slow down at least once a day to appreciate life, and a few minutes to watch a sunset seems like a worthwhile use of time. Thanks Ib.
A few years ago he gave us his boat, he said he was getting to old and we need it more than he did. The only catch (it seems with Ib there was always some strings attached) was that when we were done with it we had to gift it to another “boat needy” Salmon Beacher. I still have the hand written note with my conditions of ownership .I will cherish it and probably copy it word for word when it is my turn to find a worthy caretaker for Ib’s Salmon Beach boat. Not long after that he offered to sell us the boat ramp that separated our two places. It was one of the few parts of his orignal place that survived the fire since it was high tide at the time and covered with water. We agreed on a price and payment plan and his only complaint was that the contract was too long and he didn’t think that he would live long enough to see it paid off. I joked with him that I though that I knew him well enough to know that he would find a way to make it till he got paid in full…and you know what, he did.