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General News · 25th August 2009
Gloria Hurst
Intro- this essay was written by Gloria Hurst, Yendor's niece, who you may remember, as a college entrance essay. I thought you all might be interested in what happens when a community attempts to live up to their ideals. And once again, I thank you for your heart.

Gloria will begin her college career at Sarah Lawrence College in New York this Fall. ----Hal Hurst

Cortes

One of the places most special to me is a place few have seen. It is a small island off the west coast of Canada, near Vancouver Island, where I spent many summer months as a child. My brother and I began spending summers on Cortes when I was about ten. We stayed with my uncle, Yendor, and his wife Gloria (for whom I am named) in the home they built themselves. It lay in the middle of the woods, down a mile long dirt path, two ferries and two plane rides away from home in Los Angeles. To make his living, Yendor crafted African djembes and sold them from his living room.

Like my uncle and his home, the island was unique. It was a free flowing place where most everyone was an artist. To outsiders, the islanders seemed like hippies, walking through open-air markets with dreads and long flowing skirts. No one wore shoes indoors, and I distinctly remember one woman who never wore shoes at all, climbing unflinchingly over the sharpest rocks. Like what I remember of this woman, my memories of Cortes flit through my mind like still frames:

Hitchhiking in the rain with my brother, both in our swimsuits after a morning at the lake interrupted by water gently leaking from the sky.

Sitting in a net, slung high in the trees next to the tree house my brother and I had built summer by summer, a mist gently falling on my face.

Jogging to the outhouse at two in the morning, my flashlight’s beam wavering on the path in front of me.

Laughing with my brother as we jostled in the bed of Yendor’s old pick up truck, as he took the curves of the long driveway too fast for responsible adults.

Watching people dance to the rhythms of an African drum concert.

Learning to use an axe as we dismantled the old woodshed.

Drinking tea in the wide living room.

Listening to crickets.

Watching the stars.

Housed in these snapshots of Cortes is so much beauty that I will always be inspired when I think of them. Cortes makes me want to protect the environment. It makes me want to give hitchhikers a lift. It makes me want to open my home to passersby, to kick off my shoes, to dance in the rain.

Most of all, Cortes makes me long to capture and express the beauty of this world. When society today has strayed so far from the basics, from the love and simplicity of undisturbed nature, the greatest gift I can give to my peers is the return to that beauty of simplicity. To be able to write a book, a story, an article, an essay that gives others a picture of the beauty that I see, would enrich my life. Though I don’t travel to Cortes anymore, I believe it will always inspire me to return to the basic beauty I love.