Farewell, Examiner. You taught me a lot about the Rock

It’s always tough to say goodbye to an old friend, especially one I have loved as dearly as The Whidbey Examiner. I know only too well about the realities that have led to the closing of this small-town paper. Newspapers as I have known, written for and supported them all my adult life are changing; the Internet has altered how we receive news and information. Newspaper economics are difficult in this new age.

What we used to read in The Examiner we’ll now see in the Whidbey News-Times or the South Whidbey Record – both great local papers. And I’m delighted that Keven Graves, their smart publisher, will permit my monthly musings on life on our island, “Rockin’ a Hard Place,” to show up now in the News-Times.

But I will dearly miss holding this little paper in my hands every Thursday to find out what’s new in Central Whidbey. I first began to write for The Examiner not long after I “retired” to Whidbey in 2009. Kasia Pierzga, then its owner, editor and publisher, needed help and my old journalist’s fingers could still type.

In The Examiner, I had the chance to tell you about Dale and Liz Sherman’s fancy new machine that chops up Whidbey’s giant Hubbard squashes into neat, microwavable cubes; to describe the rise of the foodie movement on Whidbey that began when Susan Vanderbeek opened Coupeville’s Oystercatcher restaurant in 1998; to take a boat trip with Ian Jefferds and write about how Penn Cove Shellfish harvests its famous mussels; to ride out in her pickup with Georgie Smith to explain how Rockwell beans are grown and harvested; to chronicle the rise and sad end of the raspberry field at Mile Post 19 Farm.

And, since August 2013, this little paper has given me a platform to get off my chest what I love (or don’t) about our Rock, especially its quirks. I have written more than 40 editions of “Rockin’ a Hard Place,” with topics ranging from the Zen I feel while on my riding lawnmower, to the polite but passionate way we argue with each other, to our unique flannel-based dress habits … even our tribal love customs that use few adjectives.

Thank you, Whidbey Examiner. You won’t be forgotten. I will continue to wear proudly The Examiner t-shirt Kasia gave me with that wise slogan: “Be Local. Read Local.”

Now, more than ever, all of us need to keep doing both those things by supporting our remaining local newspapers.