Book features 10 of island's 'Special Places'

With the gloom of winter setting in soon, you can always find warmth and blue skies in the pages of a new book on the market, “Whidbey Island’s Special Places ... and the People Who Love Them,” which is a labor of love by its author, Langley resident Dan Pedersen.

The author worked hard one recent Friday when the delivery truck brought 85-boxes full of books to his home. After stashing the heavy boxes, he went to work publicizing the books’ availability, hoping to spread the word about Whidbey’s magical places and, perhaps, offset some of the printing costs for the thin but handsome volume which offers breezy, informative stories and crisp color photographs about 10 special places on Whidbey and, as the title says, “the people who love them.”

Flipping through the pages one is confronted by smiling faces, historical photos and an animal’s lover trove of birds, whales, fish and even a coyote tip-toeing through a wetland.

“I don’t think there’s anything like it,” Pedersen said of his book. “It conveys what we all love about Whidbey Island ... there is something that comes over people when they move here.”

Pedersen moved here in 1986 and commuted for many years to his job in Seattle, where he was publications manager for Safeco. Upon retiring in 2002 he had even more time to enjoy his home, and got to know it better as publicist for the Island County Marine Resources Committee. In that capacity he met many of the island-loving characters in his book.

Through ten people, Pedersen tells the stories of 10 different places. The names are recognizable to many: Ranger Rick Blank at Deception Pass State Park, Roger Sherman on Central Whidbey, and Elliott Menasche, an authority on South Whidbey State Park, for example. In simple feature stories he smoothly describes the places and the people who treasure them. It’s an easy read, but surprisingly informative even for long-time islanders. You may not have known, for example, that the oldest tree on the island, located in Deception Pass State Park, recently celebrated its 860th birthday.

Most of the beautiful photography is Pedersen’s own, but for especially difficult subjects he had some help. Craig Johnson’s birds at Crockett Lake and Veronica van Allworden’s whales and underwater sea creatures in Langley are particularly impressive.

Pedersen hopes that by showing people the beauties of Whidbey, he can in this way help preserve them. “It’s gently educational, not confrontational,” he said. “Meant to encourage people to take care of this place.”

The books were costly to produce, and Pedersen called the effort “a big leap of faith.”

There should be a place on every shelf of local books for “Whidbey Island’s Special Places.” Even on a rainy winter’s day, you can enjoy blue skies, friendly people and scenery that is second to none.

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