Finding Solace in Nature

Author: Whidbey Camano Land Trust | 06/24/21
       

Mosolino family

Joe Mosolino with his children Clay, Lily and Madeline at Del Fairfax Preserve on North Whidbey in 2013. Photo by Ron Wortham.

A Doctor’s Tribute is a Sanctuary for Many

Nature is magical. Few other things in life have the same power to connect, heal and nurture us. The power of place is behind all we do at the Land Trust, with the generous support of donors like you.

In fact, many people have a special memory, experience or connection tied to a specific place. Perhaps no one understands this better than Joe Mosolino.

Joe views Del Fairfax Preserve on North Whidbey as a revered place. The Land Trust site holds many family memories, most significantly as a symbol of healing for his three children during the most difficult time of their lives.

At one time, he viewed his life as nearly idyllic. He and his wife, an accomplished physician, enjoyed satisfying careers, while parenting three busy, wonderful children.

Then one day in 2004, life changed. Joe’s wife, Laurie Mosolino, was diagnosed with cancer. The news was devastating. Yet, Laurie conducted her daily life as normally as possible. One thing she loved was visiting the preserve, especially its peaceful centerpiece — a grassy meadow surrounded by a mature forest. There, she often walked with family and dogs. As the cancer progressed, caring neighbors widened the narrow trail for easier access.

The Mosolinos felt lucky to live next to such a serene place where their children and friends could be outdoors in nature. “Laurie’s the one who called it the magic meadow,” Joe said. “She felt like ‘wow, what a childhood’ for the kids.”

When Laurie died in 2009, the meadow became a refuge and place of healing for Clay, Lily and Madeline, all teenagers at the time. “For the longest time, this was the place the kids would go and hide out in that tree,” Joe said, his voice cracking. He looked out across the meadow to a  mature alder which stands alone, a touchstone to past and present.

Clay, now 29, and his younger sisters still frequent the preserve whenever they can. In fact, they’ve celebrated special occasions there. During one gathering, guests noticed a ray of sunlight streaming through the trees onto Lily and friends. “Several parents remarked, ‘Laurie is in the meadow,’” Joe said. “It was pretty neat.”

Joe can’t say enough about the permanent protection of this cherished landscape. In fact, he shares a connection to the man who donated this magical preserve to the Land Trust.

Dr. George Fairfax, a retired obstetrician from Oak Harbor, donated the property to the Land Trust in 2007 after losing Del, his beloved wife of 57 years. Dr. Fairfax, now 94, still loves visiting the wooded 50-acre sanctuary.  He recalls the day he made the decision to preserve it. “The breeze was blowing like waves of water across the grass,” Dr. Fairfax said. “The sun was shining. I looked up and there was a bald eagle in the sky. I thought ‘I don’t want to see this place developed and lost. I’m going to preserve it.’”

When he visits, Dr. Fairfax remembers the special moments he shared with Del and the six children they raised. His heart is full, knowing this cherished setting offers others a similar experience and ultimately, the chance to find solace and healing in nature.

Dr. George Fairfax

Dr. George Fairfax recently visits the preserve that he dedicated in memory of his late wife, Del. “It makes me feel good to know so many people appreciate it,” he said.

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