Although I didn't find it a particularly exciting life at the time, I can now look back and see that growing up in Little Norway did give me a deep understanding of the value of traditional culture in the new world. The town's (then) vibrant Norwegian cultural heritage was engaging and I came close to joining Leikarringen, the local Scandinavian youth dance group, but I quit just before making the final commitment of having a bunad sewn for me by the ladies of Fun With Fabrics just down the street from the Sons of Norway.
I hesitated because I knew that I was destined to play the harp. I first asked my parents for one on my fifth birthday, but the gods didn't see fit to get my feet on the path until much later. I started piano lessons at 9, and didn't think much more about the harp until my sister took me to the Puyallup Fair when I was 14, and I saw Phillip and Pam Boulding playing Irish harp and hammered dulcimer. I was completely transfixed the first moment I saw and heard the instrument that would define my life.
Within a few months I found a harp teacher in nearby Suquamish and rented a small instrument.
I played my first gig at the opening of The Emerald Cottage on Bainbridge Island six weeks after my first lesson. I learned the kind of generic British folk repertoire that is easily available to the uninitiated and earned my pocket money throughout high school playing at restaurants and weddings.