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January’s a good month to be thankful and wishful. After all, there’s not much else to do; it gets dark too early, the tides are too high for beach walking, and it’s too cold outside.
Long, long ago – about 15 years, to be exact, BFB (before Facebook), BTW (before Twitter) and BSP (before smart phones) – a few passionate people on Whidbey Island were very upset that the Rock had no local public radio station to call its own.
Two years ago this month, Michele Lynn and Jerry Raitzer were over the moon with anticipation. Their Whidbey Island dream had come true. Today, however, the dream has been altered dramatically — but they insist it’s not dead.
I was happy to see that enrollment in Coupeville’s public schools is on the rise after steadily declining for the past decade. The town’s been feeling a bit arthritic and it needs a burst of youthful energy. We can use more kick-ball screaming and jump-rope rhyming; hopefully that will help drown out the clatter of so many canes and walkers.
There are many qualities to admire about us Whidbey folk. One that I notice frequently is how fiercely we battle to keep things just the way they are. We fight tooth-and-nail against big development, environmental travesties or any sign of America creeping toward our pristine shores. We’d sooner jump off the Deception Pass Bridge than permit a billboard or neon sign, for instance.
With the dog days of summer upon us, it’s a perfect moment for a lazy, hazy, crazy memory of my days of Rock past.
Six years ago this month, my spouse, two dogs and I began our new lives on the Rock. Hallmark Cards says the correct sixth anniversary gift should be wood, but please don’t bother. We already have plenty of that on this evergreen-encrusted isle.
I am struck by how patriotic we Rock dwellers are. That’s not to say our brothers and sisters in America don’t love the red, white and blue as much or support our troops with equal passion or, for that matter, pay as many – or often more — taxes.
It must be something in the air that makes it so difficult for us Rock dwellers to agree on anything. Maybe it’s another effect of pollen from evergreen trees. In addition to sinusitis.
Over the years, we Whidbey dwellers have developed our own language. Let’s call it Rockish. It usually consists of a phrase or two mingled into common America-speak, which itself is derived – some would say deteriorated – from the Queen’s English.
Hard to believe, but not too long ago some folks on the Rock didn’t care much for mussels. The creatures disfigured dock pilings and messed up boat bottoms. Their sharp-edged shells cut your bare feet. They were tough and rubbery if you ate the big ones right off the beach. And the idea that someone would create a commercial mussel farm and plop several dozen floating platforms on pristine Penn Cove waters just off Madrona Way raised more than a few Rock hackles back in the 1970s.
In historic Sunnyside Cemetery, overlooking beautiful Ebey’s Prairie, there are hundreds of old and elaborate markers showing where the prairie’s white pioneer farmers and their families eternally rest.
Few of us bother to sing the third verse of “Deck the Halls” at Christmastime, but it’s a sweet celebration of the new year’s approach: “Fast away the old year passes / Hail the new, ye lads and lasses / Sing we joyous all together / Heedless of the wind and weather!” So, ye Whidbey lads and lasses, herewith I sing carols about some fond year-end memories here on the Rock, heedless of our wind and weather.
You know what I enjoy most about holiday season on the Rock? Wherever I go, it’s as if the last 50 years never happened.
I just spent 17 days crossing something amazing off my bucket list. In September, I cruised the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers on a luxury boat with 160 other bedazzled tourists through six countries, past countless castles, innumerable cathedrals and more cobblestones than there are stars in heaven.
I grew up in the 1950s in Tacoma. My mother was a modern housewife who thanked heaven every day for making her life easier with Betty Crocker cake mixes, Swanson’s TV dinners, Hamburger Helper and store-bought everything.
Dear Whidbey Island, This summer marks the fifth anniversary since you and I moved in together, and I am more in love with you today than ever. You have made me forget every other place I ever lived: Tacoma, Seattle, Vietnam, Japan, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Dallas.
The annual summer invasion of the Rock has begun. There are creepy, curious, voracious creatures everywhere, and I’m not talking about tented caterpillars littering our footsteps. Squish, squish, squish.
My friend Bill Dyer died recently, just shy of his 88th birthday.
What is it about life on the Rock that makes all of us so contented most of the time? Can’t be the weather — too wet. Can’t be the booming economy — it isn’t. Can’t be the scintillating night life — um, let’s not go there.