This has been a Hard Rock year on Whidbey Island, and I really wish I could mean that just in the music or casino sense.
Our beloved Rock has suffered so many indignities in 2020 that it sometimes feels as if the Ice Age glaciers are back after 10,000 years to continue scraping and carving up the Scenic Isle Way.
This Hard Rock year began with the endless (and still unfinished) repainting of the ancient Deception Pass Bridge, snarling traffic off the North End. And it ended with what’s supposed to be a “brief” suspension of ferry service off the South End to permit the opening of the fancy new Mukilteo terminal, which is sadly much too far from Ivar’s soft-freeze ice cream in waffle cones.
In between, we had a pandemic that has been so much more uncomfortable than just having a probe frequently pushed up your nose.
We had an economic recession that closed, opened and closed again our restaurants, sent school kids home with laptops and Zoom invitations, locked us up inside our houses, laid off hundreds of people and shuttered more than a few businesses permanently.
We had thick smoke from forest fires in America that made it unhealthy to take the fresh-air hikes and bike rides that define our Rock culture.
We endured a long and particularly nasty political season that cluttered our gorgeous two-lane highway with signs, flags and banners that were too big and too many, and ended up wrecking our trust in each other.
So is it any wonder, Dear Santa, that I send you this very plaintive Christmas wish list? I hope you will look kindly on these simple little Rock dweller requests.
Please help us avoid crashes on State Highway 20 as we turn right into the new Grocery Outlet/Starbuck’s drive-through in Oak Harbor with barreling traffic right on our bumper behind us. And help us not to back into others as we navigate that infamously narrow parking lot at the Prairie Center Market in Coupeville.
Please help us be patient when there is no place to park on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor, Front Street in Coupeville and First Street in Langley.
Make those who hog the spaces be more generous in spirit and not park there all day.
Please hurry and reopen our two precious Whidbey movie theaters, the Oak Harbor Cinemas and the classic Clyde Theater in Langley.
We are desperate for the smell and taste of fresh popped corn; watching Netflix on TV just isn’t the same. And please let us chow down once again while sitting at a Naugahyde booth inside the fast food joints in Oak Harbor. Eating out of a bag in the car has grown tiresome and messy, and the roadside litter is unsightly.
Please help us to remember to wear mud-resistant footwear when setting out for a holiday hike on Rock trails during this dark and dank time of year, and to wear a hooded jacket that sheds rain since, as you know, umbrellas are forbidden on the Rock.
Please make us respectful on Zoom calls with friends and loved ones in America and not continuously talk over each other so the rest can’t hear anything.
Let us save that behavior for when we are back together in person.
Please help us keep in mind that we share the same island and we all live here because we love it. Keep us from doubting each other’s patriotism and motives because of our political beliefs or our opinions about Navy jet noise.
Please make 2021 the year that we finally open a permanent shelter for the growing number of homeless on our Rock. They are our sisters and brothers. And please make sure they have enough food to eat and a place to eat it.
So that’s my list, Dear Santa. And I promise that if you grant me these few little things, I will set out some insanely delicious chocolates from Sweet Mona’s and some heavenly bagels and schmear from the Whidbey Island Bagel Factory beside our fireplace just for you. Merry Christmas … and let’s have a Better New Year!
• Harry Anderson is a retired journalist for the Los Angeles Times currently living on Central Whidbey.