Memories bring year to a close on the Rock | Rockin’ A Hard Place

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.

“The Rock in solemn darkness lay.”

As we drove home to Coupeville from Freeland on the evening of Dec. 11, a mighty wind blew, cut off the power and brought down big trees that blocked both the main highway and Bush Point Road — the only other way to go north on the island. Long lines of cars backed up, waiting as some very brave emergency crews wielded chainsaws to clear our path. Folks got out of their vehicles, hung out, chatted and even shared jackets. No road rage, no cross words, no gun fire. Just peaceful patience and deep gratitude to those who risk so much to help us during all such emergencies.

“God rest ye merry Rock dwellers.”

On a damp Dec. 21 Sunday afternoon, a crowd of several hundred gathered outside the Island County Historical Museum, eagerly awaiting a highlight of the local Yuletide season: the Red Ticket drawing. People tightly grasped the tickets they got for doing their holiday shopping in Coupeville, hoping to win the big $1,000 grand prize.

Sarah and Ruth Richards from Lavender Wind cracked corny jokes. Beth Kuchynka from bayleaf kept things moving right along as mistress of ceremonies.  Janice Vaughan from Whidbey Island Bank (sorry, I will never be able to call it Heritage Bank) heroically dove her arm into the mountain of tickets to pull the winners. Denis Hill, as always, took beautiful photographs. Most of us knew we’d never win, but it was fun to stand around with our neighbors and think we might. And there was much hugging and consoling of all the non-winners, which was the best part.

“It’s a marshmallow Rock in the winter.”

What to do with a 10-year-old great niece and her friend from America on a post-Christmas visit to their uncle’s home? Can you say Honey Bear, boys and girls? Indeed, the Front Street toy and candy store owned by Karla Mackintosh is the obvious place to bring visiting kids of all ages, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s next to Kapaw’s Iskreme store. We aged uncles got the chance to renew our acquaintance with the Look, Big Hunk and Pay Day candy bars of our youth. Meanwhile, the youthful niece and friend found bliss in their purchase of marshmallow fried eggs and toy penguins, which partially allayed their disappointment when they discovered that Kapaw’s was closed.

“The cold never bothered us anyway!”

To work off the sugar high from Honey Bear, we proceeded to the Deception Pass Bridge on a gorgeous, clear winter afternoon, to enjoy stunning views from the Olympics to the North Cascades. We bundled up and bravely walked out to the bridge’s midpoint. The bitter cold wind whistled past us; giant trucks rumbled behind us; the riptide wovwe a dangerous current below us. We confessed that the icy cold made us feel frozen. And, of course, we then sang the ubiquitous theme song from that Disney movie all the way back to our car. Let it go! Let it go!

“Joy to the Rock!”

A beautiful, sunny and chilly New Year’s Day dawned on Whidbey Island, and all of us seemed determined to be outdoors on such a rare winter afternoon. We bundled ourselves and our Charlotte, our Basset hound, and headed for a favorite walk on the Bluff Trail from Jacob Ebey’s House. Dozens of New Year’s strollers with their canine companions ambled along, enjoying a spectacular vista from Mount Baker to the Olympics with Ebey’s Prairie in verdant glory below us. The dogs were friendly and so were the people. All of us just seemed to know without having to say it how rare and special our corner of the world is.