Rockin’ A Hard Place: Saddling up to find happy, peaceful, quiet trails for all

You’d think I’d be used to it. The December through February funk. Dark, dank, depressing. We’ve all been told we should have known it when we moved (or were born) here in the Pacific Northwest, sometimes affectionately called the Pacific Mossmildew. This year, we added a snow-bound moment during our winter tide for the first time in a blue moon. And that caused our funk to seem bluer than normal, especially when the power went out for days here on our beautiful Rock.

Then, because I live in Central Whidbey, my depression became frigidly worse in early March when the Navy politely announced it would it quadruple loud, rumbling Growler jet flights all over my neighborhood during day and night hours it will select week-by-week. I felt like finding a cave to crawl in or slipping into a fetal position — or perhaps simply packing up and driving the RV to Nova Scotia.

I know, I know. The sound of freedom; our brave Navy pilots need this training to protect our nation and they deserve the best; you should have known about jets (but not this many) when you moved (or were born) here; and so forth. I can hear those incessant Oak Harbor “go-Navy-go” chants from the shores of Penn Cove to Ebey’s Landing. But that kind of noise plus the Navy’s own statements haven’t persuaded me that the Navy chose this “preferred” alternative to please anybody but itself. (And please save your snarky online clap-backs for somebody who’ll play that game with you.)

But then I took a deep breath and I’m feeling better now. What really turned my funk to gladness was the return of that big yellow thingy in the sky. The one that had been gone for so long. The sun came back and stayed, day after glorious day. The mid-March temperatures rose above 70 degrees. The mountains and sea around me were in glorious array.

To celebrate, we brought out the patio furniture and the barbecue earlier than normal. We trimmed and weeded the garden beds. Daffodils began to grow several inches a day. The rhododendrons suddenly budded. The cherry trees blossomed overnight.

I pulled out my John Deere riding lawn mower and gave our acreage its first haircut of the year. Of course, I strapped on my sound-deadening ear protection while I did it; I’m wearing it a lot more these days. Its especially useful whenever brave pilots train overhead.

I must have been smiling broadly during my zen-induced mowing reverie that afternoon. My friend Cameron Chandler, who has been aware of my funk, drove by as I was aboard my John Deere, and he said he hoped it would lighten my world view. “Recommend you get back in the saddle tomorrow,” he wrote on Facebook.

That gave me a flashback to my youth, when “back in the saddle” meant Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy, among other western heroes I watched on TV. Indeed, what would Roy, Gene and Hoppy do if beset by a dank wintry funk and very loud jet noise? “They’d say, Cowboy Up!” Cameron told me. They’d get back to chasing bad guys, singing around the campfire and making the world a better place.

Of course, my “Cowboy Up” will be quite different from Roy, Gene and Hoppy’s. But I won’t high-tail it out of here – at least not yet. I will try hard to achieve the same sort of worthy goal they did. In my case, that will be to do whatever I can to make all our trails on this beautiful Rock happy, peaceful – and quiet – for everybody.

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