Kajira Wyn Berry defies a couple of timeworn clichés: 1. That attractive blondes are dumb. Watching Jeopardy with her lively intellect is downright demeaning. 2. That a multi-talented artist is merely a dilettante without focus. Yes, she is a writer, editor, poet, calligrapher, painter, photojournalist, sculptor, but a dabbler, she's not.
The early days were an indicator of her fearlessness. Even though she dreamed of being an astronaut, how dare she revel in tailspins and lazy-8s in PT-19s and Aeroncas before she could even drive a car? Outrageous for her New England blueblood to flow out from her generational roots—would you believe John Quincy Adams? —South to Florida, more flying, jobs: performing underwater at Silver Springs, milking venomous snakes for a herpetologist. The nerve. Then, marriage to a jet fighter pilot, and her first son David, on to California and a daughter, Bonny.

After the Korean War, they head to Oregon and Reed College in Portland where son Duncan comes along, and a divorce. She studied art and philosophy at Reed and, under the master tutelage of Lloyd Reynolds, calligraphy, a constant thread through her life ever since.

“The Sufis say that at any point in time there are seven great teachers in the world, but they may not know who they are. I’m sure Lloyd was one of them. He enriched so many of us with the dance of letters, thicks and thins, graceful line and the concept of negative shape. That’s my world—meaning and form together."

In the 60s, she scrambled to raise three kids: taught at Catlin Gabel School, modeled, finally spawned a successful career in photojournalism that culminated in winning first in the professional photographer category of the coveted International Life Magazine contest.

“Being a photojournalist is wonderful—I’ve lived so many different lives through my lens, waiting and watching for that definitive moment.”

Married to noted Oregon author Don Berry (Trask, A Majority of Scoundrels, etc.) she learned what it takes to hatch a book.

“I was intimately involved with Berry’s writing—research, first reader, back cover author photo, agents and editors. A marriage between two intellectual and creative minds is challenging. We leap-frogged each other for 25 years. It was a tempestuous long love.”

The Berry years would not be complete without mention of the Caribbean and their life aboard SaruBe, a sea-kindly, 54’ staysail ketch, jet black, with a tall 75’ mast and a green crew. While they were visiting back home in Oregon, it was pirated from a hurricane hole in Antigua.

“Living with the wind on the blue part of the planet, no boundaries, was a profound, terrifying and memorable experience.”

In the mid-70s, the Berrys moved to Vashon Island, in Puget Sound, near Seattle and Tacoma. They were divorced in the late 80s and she hit the road for seven years, blue-highwaying the west with her computer in the passenger seat, hanging with friends, working odd jobs as a model or reporter. On the road, camping out.

Then in the 90s, back home to Washington and Vashon, surrounded by family, friends and partner, David Steel. More playfulness! their recent Christmas card reads, a spirit that has sustained their 15 years of travel and adventuring together—sea kayaking Puget Sound and British Columbia, exploring Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Bali, Cambodia, Vietnam), tramping Mexico and Guatemala, more travels, with Duncan, to Greece, Crete and France.

“Essentially I’m kind of a nomad. I like the overtness of it. Everything is strange. When traveling, I’m more aware, challenged and invigorated…but home is so very sweet.”

When asked what her greatest assets are, Kaj Wyn easily deflected the question by answering ”…my three splendid children, David, Bonny, and Duncan, sweetheart David, my eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, good friends and blue poodle, Skykomish.”

     David Steel