Rockin’ a Hard Place: How to perk up and avoid crawling under a rock on our Rock

Local cooking, a stroll on the beach, leaving the car in the garage. They will cure what ails you.

It’s January on our Rock, a time often described as dark, dank and dreary. This year we can add snow- and ice-bound, rain-saturated and muddy-slogged to that sad litany. Bad weather bollixed many of the holiday deliveries attempted by the post office, Federal Express and United Parcel Service. My cousin’s gift box of fresh fruit from Florida arrived more than two weeks late, and the fruit was rotten from sitting someplace – who knows where – in freezing weather.

Then, to top it all off, omicron reignited the pandemic just as we were peeking out of lockdown and quarantine. Restaurants are closing again, schools are reporting covid cases in kids, our Rock hospital’s emergency room is overfilled, and store shelves are out of a lot of what we came to buy.

It’s enough to make me consider crawling under a rock on the Rock, which of course would be a very unRock-like thing to do. We are normally friendly, outgoing, unflappable, involved, wandering around and sharing our joy to be living in such a beautiful spot. I knew immediately I needed to set about changing my sagging attitude. Herewith are some of my remedies; feel free to borrow them.

To overcome the new round of closed restaurants, harken back to the takeout extravaganzas of 2020-21. Most restaurants have an app for that. Wonderful stuff in white bags that can be enjoyed at home or in the car, with no noisy people in the booth next to you. Akin to that remedy, as you wait in the many drive-through lines in Burger ‘n Friesville (aka Oak Harbor), you can grab some precious quiet time to catch up on email or the news on your phone. I had just such a 20-minute opportunity last week waiting in a line of more than 10 cars to pick up our double cheeseburgers and fries at Wendy’s.

Another food remedy: buy what’s grown on Whidbey and cook it. Much is available in our local markets and there is also an online food hub operated by Whidbey Island Grown, a cooperative of local farmers. Concoct some recipes using local squash, potatoes, turnips or greens. Add some local beef, chicken or Penn Cove mussels. Island grown and cooked is guaranteed to perk up an appetite – and an attitude.

As a cure for feeling claustrophobic as your house walls close on you, take a walk on a Rock beach. That’s what I did recently – after the Tonga tsunami fizzled, of course. Rock beaches are alive with amazing displays of life, from barnacles to tiny crabs to jellyfish to seaweed. The impact will quickly remove your sense that life on earth may be coming to an end. Be brave and even take off your shoes and dip your feet in the water. The temperature will be frigid but it will stimulate your whole body. Just remember to bring a towel to brush off the sand between your toes.

Sit back and enjoy the fact that you are not driving as much as you did before lousy weather and the pandemic struck. Consider how much more valuable your used car will be with lower-than-expected mileage. My dealer recently sent me a reminder that, according to their records, my car is due for 5,000-mile service. I smiled when I realized that I still had almost 1,000 miles still to go to hit that milestone.

Take a hike. Our Rock has dozens of great trails maintained almost entirely by volunteers. Outdoors the air is so much fresher than what’s fanning inside your abode. Take that great new KN95 mask off and inhale deeply. Wander through the towering evergreens and take a look at the views at almost every turn. A lot of our trails go down near the water. Admire the connection between water and land – it will make you ever so glad yet again that you live on an island.

Finally, just sit and enjoy the dazzling sunrises and sunsets we get this time of year. You can do it out of a window or you can do it on a trail or a beach. The thrill is the same. Atmospheric conditions are giving us a rich palette of gold, orange and yellow with some spectacular cloud formations thrown in for good measure. Is there anything more comforting, more healing than a dazzling sunrise or sunset?

Takeout, local cooking, a stroll on the beach, leaving the car in the garage, hiking an endless trail, sitting silently and watching the sun slowly rise or set. They will cure what ails you.

Harry Anderson is a retired journalist who worked for the Los Angeles Times and lives in Central Whidbey.