Rockin’ A Hard Place: Enjoying the beauty of nature’s holiday decorations

I hear a lot of folks on our Rock saying that, this year more than ever, they’re looking forward to Christmas. Maybe it’s because it’s been such a year to forget.

It reminds me of the lyrics to that great song in the musical “Mame” — “Haul out the holly! Put up the tree before my spirit falls again! Fill up the stockings! I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now. We need a little Christmas, right this very minute — candles in the window, carols at the spinet.”

It could explain why it seems as if lighting and decorating and early celebrating have gone over the top and then some. I saw a fiberglass angel dangling from a tree in a local yard whose wingspan must have been eight feet. The twinkling LED lights added to its overpowering effect. No owl or eagle on the Rock ever looked more fearsome.

In Oak Harbor, the huge construction crane being used to build the new sewer plant looks almost otherworldly, all decked out in colored lights with a “tree” on top. All it needs is holly and the tinsel. It cries out for eggnog and fruitcake.

Drive through almost any Rock neighborhood and see how many decorated trees are already burning bright by a window. Look at how many more exterior lights than usual have been strung from pillar to post this year. Then count how many of your friends on Facebook have already eagerly shared photos of their joyful home decorations and have already wished you a happy holiday.

Stores seem to have shoved out all the regular merchandise and replaced it with ornaments, candy, toys, Christmas sweaters and pajamas. And gifts for pets. I had a hard time finding a new pair of socks among all this cheer.

I’m not objecting to all this early holiday celebrating. Actually, I like it. And I confess that since Thanksgiving, I have been binge-listening to the “Traditional Christmas” channel on Pandora. Bing, Andy, Nat, Perry. No better way to get in the holiday mood.

The other day, however, on my walk around Ebey’s Prairie, I noticed how beautifully this Rock is naturally decorated all the time. We are surrounded by living Christmas trees — towering evergreens that reach for the stars. Mistletoe grows wild in our woods, and so does holly. Brilliant white snowberries make us feel like it’s much colder than it is. Madrona trees toss off their colorful orange bark as we drive by, and the leaves on alder trees are wonderful to admire in bright gold before they drop. The icy wind makes endless white caps on the waves around us.

What I realized is that our human attempts at decorating for the holidays are a pale comparison to what nature has already done. If I never saw another Styrofoam snowman or a dozen more glitter-painted plastic ornaments (made in China), I doubt I’d care. But if the evergreens, holly, snowberries, madronas, alders and white caps were gone, what would Christmas be on Whidbey?

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