In April, my husband and I took a jaunt down to Ocean Shores to do some razor clamming. If you’ve ever dug these surprisingly fast-tunneling, bivalve mollusks, you know you’re only allowed out clamming for a short window of time when tides are low.
Despite this, when the beaches are dotted with a bazillion clam shows — the tiny mounds in the sand that reveal a clam is lurking below — it’s not unusual to get your limit of 15 razors in well under an hour. This leaves a lot of time to find something to do for the rest of your stay in Ocean Shores.
My apologies to any of you who hail from that neck of the woods, but there isn’t a lot to do there that doesn’t involve wind, salt water and miles of flat, sandy beaches, or digging, cleaning and eating clams.
Luckily for us (and the people in Ocean Shores!) they have the Pacific Paradise Family Fun Center with 36 holes of mini golf and Ocean Shores Interpretive Center, a very cool hands-on learning facility run by volunteers that’s a great place for a nature geek, especially young nature geeks, to spend some time.
So what does any of this have to do with plants? I’ll tell you.
When you’re driving around looking for things to do and places to eat in an unfamiliar town, you have lots of opportunities to critique the landscaping you pass.
Okay, I do that every day anyway in towns that are familiar too, like Coupeville, Langley and Oak Harbor, and I’ll bet you do too.
There I was constantly astounded by the frequent lack of any landscaping at all around private homes in this coastal town.
Perplexed, I asked a gentleman who was doing the unexpected — planting flowers and shrubs at the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center — why so few homes in that area bothered to landscape. He told me the high winds and the sand made gardening too difficult, and forget even attempting a vegetable garden.
The only adversity he failed to mention was the herd of deer making themselves at home in the median just down the road.
I wanted to tell him about the many beautiful gardens I’ve experienced along sandy and windy West Beach Road alone, where at least one homeowner I know used to hire a man with a front loader every five years or so to remove the accumulated sand from his driveway.
I wanted to tell him about all the dauntless Whidbey Island gardeners who battle not only the elements, but also deer, rabbits and slugs the size of voles to achieve their hearts’ desires, whether that means the best blooming hydrangea or the biggest tomato. I wanted to tell him how Whidbey Island gardeners never give up, never give in and always know where to get the best deals on deer fencing and slug bait.
Basically I wanted to say, “Neener, neener,” but I was a guest and that would have been rude. Fair, maybe, but rude.
Then, on the way back to the motel, one home owner redeemed that whole benighted town. Masses of Lithodora dotted a thoughtfully designed tiered cottage stone bed, like blue beacons of hope for gardeners everywhere.
At last I’d found my people and I didn’t feel like a stranger any more.