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I took a walk along the beach one afternoon last week. I hadn’t done that for ages. I did it because I had a lot on my mind. Scientists says salt air by the shoreline contains negatively charged hydrogen ions that help us absorb oxygen and balance out serotonin levels, resulting in more energy and diminished depression. Whatever the reason, a walk on the beach always helps clear the clutter in my head.
One of the things I like most about living on the Rock is our pride in manners and proper driving habits. Indeed, our town speed limit is 25 mph, and we have only one town marshal. So, therefore, we are proud to self-enforce our speed limit. In fact, if you pull up and hug our bumper, we may just go even slower than the limit. I have to admire the brave souls who do that, thereby suffering even worse slings and arrows of outraged people in a hurry.
We had a lot of rain early this spring, then a lot of sun, then a lot of cooler temperatures, then a lot more sun. Those in the know about such things on Central Whidbey can add it up. After a couple thin years, 2016 should produce a great harvest of Rockwell beans.
Has anyone else noticed how much traffic seems to have increased on our Rock’s two-lane main artery with a split personality that morphs from Highway 525 into Highway 20? The Fourth of July weekend was cloudy and chilly, but that didn’t deter the bumper-to-bumper line-up inching through Bayview and Freeland, or creeping through Oak Harbor.
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.
Second graders at Coupeville Elementary School held their very first “salad celebration” in their classroom late last month. On a Thursday, they carefully arranged place settings for themselves with bowls, forks and napkins.
In winter I like to play outside in the snow just long enough to make a snow angel, build a snowman or throw a few snowballs, and then I’m done and ready for the ice and cold to go away. During the summer I can’t wait for the blistering heat to dissipate and the rain to return so I can stop fretting about my garden turning to ash right before my eyes. And in the fall, I’m counting the days until the monsoons end and the sun peeks once more through the clouds.
It’s been a beautiful spring weekend on the Rock. Sun was out, flowers were in bloom, farmers’ markets were bustling, sailboats and kayaks were out, lawns were mowed. And, of course, there were at least five non-profit fundraising events to attend up and down the island. Make that at least six. There was one wine-and-cheese affair I didn’t receive an invitation to. How did that happen?
When you live on the Rock, it is almost impossible not to volunteer. Hardly a day goes by without some opportunity to do something good for someone around here.
Once I had the space ready and the deer fencing in place, the time came to tackle the task of choosing the perfect trees to plant. In this column I’ll share with you what choices I made and why.
I’ll admit I got a little spoiled this past fall. When you’re weeding beneath a tree practically dripping with ripe fruit and the homeowner tells you to help yourself, what does any sane person do? You know it. You reach up and avail yourself of succulent pears, juicy apples and peaches to die for.
I hesitate to say that this winter’s rain has set a record here on the Rock. Somebody out there would surely arm-wrestle me over that. Until recently, weather gauges — even the good ones — were not always reliable. So I will politely avoid an argument over this being the wettest winter ever. It just feels like it.
Even though the first day of spring is officially a long ways away, you don’t want to wait much longer to set this year’s vegetable garden plans in motion. That’s because our mild climate makes late February the perfect time to sow snow peas, fava bean and many varieties of carrots, radishes and onions directly in the ground.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Love is in the air, chocolate fills every store shelf and lovers put on public displays of affection at every opportunity. But, although we like romance as much as anybody and we take love seriously here on the Rock, talking about such things can make us squirm.
There’s a shrub I think we ought to see more of around here, especially in the wintertime when a spot of cheerful color in the garden is just what some of us need to lift our spirits. It’s called beautyberry, or Callicarpa.
January’s a good month to be thankful and wishful. After all, there’s not much else to do; it gets dark too early, the tides are too high for beach walking, and it’s too cold outside.
Despite swaths of Washington recently getting pummeled by heavy snow, I’m convinced either Mother Nature has hopped on a freighter heading to parts unknown or is holed up somewhere gorging on brownies spiked with wacky weed and way too much sugar.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a child the one thing I could always count on finding on Christmas morning was an orange or tangerine in the toe of my Christmas stocking. I suppose this was a holdover from the days over a century ago when citrus fruits were considered exotic treasures during the cold depths of winter in these parts.
Long, long ago – about 15 years, to be exact, BFB (before Facebook), BTW (before Twitter) and BSP (before smart phones) – a few passionate people on Whidbey Island were very upset that the Rock had no local public radio station to call its own.
If you like the look of holly but want something fragrant and non-invasive, consider giving Osmanthus heterophyllus a try. This member of the olive family has holly-like leaves with one to four spiny points on each side and small, white, four petalled flowers that bloom in the fall. You can easily distinguish between holly and O. heterophyllus by the arrangement of the leaves on the stems. Holly leaves occur alternately, while Osmanthus are opposite.
I guess it’s time for “The Talk.” No, not that talk. Not unless you’re an adolescent who stumbled upon this gardening column by accident while searching your grandma’s kitchen counter for the missing jar of Nutella and you need the lowdown on the birds and the bees. No, this talk is about not planting invasive species in your garden or giving amnesty to noxious weeds and other big, bad plant bullies.
I was happy to see that enrollment in Coupeville’s public schools is on the rise after steadily declining for the past decade. The town’s been feeling a bit arthritic and it needs a burst of youthful energy. We can use more kick-ball screaming and jump-rope rhyming; hopefully that will help drown out the clatter of so many canes and walkers.
This is a great time of year for at least one type of Euonymus: the burning bush. Don’t confuse it with the smoke tree, or smoke bush. They’re different plants from entirely different plant families. Smoke tree is a Cotinus and related instead to the sumac. This is one instance where if there’s smoke there isn’t necessarily fire.
Georgia Gardner and Nancy Fey want to continue serving on the board of elected officials that sets policy for the hospital. They are being challenged by two very different candidates. Rob Born is a firebrand, an outspoken critic of the hospital. Erika Carnahan is a calm person who believes in a collaborative approach. Both challengers will provide second opinions — and fresh ideas — needed on the board.
It doesn’t appear there’s going to be anything graceful about the Greenbank Farm Management Group’s split with the Port of Coupeville. Despite claims by the nonprofit group that it is doing everything in its power to not fan the flames of community discord, the group’s actions say otherwise.
A friend of mine recently revealed her husband was worried about their western red cedar trees. You see, he’d noticed areas of orange foliage dotted throughout the canopy and thought they were dying. I told her to tell him to relax. When sections of old cedar foliage lose their green color in the late summer through fall, it’s just a normal part of their growth cycle called flagging.
Viburnums have often confused me. This is where I should say I’m not easily confused, but that would be a lie. On the other hand, I’ll bet there’s at least one other person out there who thought for the longest time that a snowball bush was some kind of hydrangea.
The Scottish writer and philosopher Thomas Carlyle wrote, “Man is a tool -using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.” There are a number of things I would disagree with Carlyle on, but this isn’t one of them, especially when it comes to gardening.
There are many qualities to admire about us Whidbey folk. One that I notice frequently is how fiercely we battle to keep things just the way they are. We fight tooth-and-nail against big development, environmental travesties or any sign of America creeping toward our pristine shores. We’d sooner jump off the Deception Pass Bridge than permit a billboard or neon sign, for instance.
What pops into your mind’s eye when you think of honeysuckle? Is it a fragrant vine or is it an arching shrub that makes good hedges and borders?
With the dog days of summer upon us, it’s a perfect moment for a lazy, hazy, crazy memory of my days of Rock past.
Let’s look at some Port of Coupeville numbers from 2014. Commissioner Marshall Bronson is essentially correct in his statement that under our current contracts with the Greenbank Farm Management Group, the port allowed them to keep $87,000 in Greenbank Farm rents and a $49,500 yearly fee, for a total of $136,500. This has been the arrangement going back at least eight years.
The Port of Coupeville, after having been in negotiation with the Greenbank Farm Management Group for more than one year has come to a point of impasse.
If you thought this summer would be a great time to buy a bunch of trees or shrubs, gather together a hoard of your favorite annual and perennial flowers or completely revamp your landscaping, my heart goes out to you.
After years and years of on-again, off-again relations, quiet grumbling and likely more than a few private fantasies of more financially profitable partnerships, Port of Coupeville commissioners this week abruptly cut ties with the Greenbank Farm Management Group.
To the residents of Island County, In response to recent media reports and community concerns, Washington State University seeks to clarify discussions it had, and is currently having, with the Port of Coupeville in its role as owner of Greenbank Farm.
Six years ago this month, my spouse, two dogs and I began our new lives on the Rock. Hallmark Cards says the correct sixth anniversary gift should be wood, but please don’t bother. We already have plenty of that on this evergreen-encrusted isle.