Whidbey Examiner


Opinion: Let’s hear it for the good ol’ damp and dark

February 14, 2014 · 3:02 PM

By Harry Anderson

I think this time of year on the Rock gets a bad rap. People are prone to use a lot of words that start with “D” to describe it. Damp, dark, dank, dreary, dour, drizzly, depressing.

I’ve heard the first two months of the year referred to as “Gray-you-are-y.” Some of us get so unhinged we spend a bundle to stay a few weeks in Congest-a-fornia or Freez-i-zona or Humid-ida to get away from our cold, wet Rock.

But, for me, this is a precious time. I see the pussy willows and snow berries forming. Delicate beauty that arrives amid a tough season. I notice new growth on the firs, pines and hemlocks.

A darker, more vibrant green that seems to thumb its nose at the icy cold. I enjoy the sound of rain on our metal roof.

It’s nature’s pitch-perfect symphony to accompany an afternoon nap. I like wearing flannel and fleece. Nothing else produces that special kind of warmth in chill-to-bone weather. I feel very protected wearing wool socks in bed. It seems just like bedtime-story time when I was a child.

I also like the feeling akin to hibernation that we get this time of year. I can sit in my chair and read all afternoon without feeling one bit guilty about un-mown grass or an un-weeded garden or an un-done thousand or more chores outside.

The animals with which we share this Rock know instinctively that this is a time to store up your energy for when you’ll need it, like when that yellow thing-y in the sky keeps shining well past time for bed. We humans seem to think foolishly that we can change the way our body clocks have been wired through hundreds of thousands of years. I say just relax, snooze and enjoy the dark.

Here’s something else I really love about this time of year:  soup’s on! Can there be anything more satisfying on a cold, gray day than a bowl of homemade soup and some crusty bread?  I doubt it.

For inspiration on soup-making, I turn to my dog-earred copy of “What’s Cookin’ in Coupeville, Washington,” a compilation of recipes from the women of Coupeville United Methodist Church.  I bought the book a few Christmas Bazaars ago at the Methodist Church, and it has become my invaluable guide to how to live a delicious and satisfying life on the Rock.

I am especially fond of Ginny Munn’s “Prize-Winning Clam Chowder,” full of bacon, celery, carrots, onion, red potatoes, green pepper, whipping cream, clams and a splash of Tabasco.  I also really like Cherry Sigrist’s “Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup,” which includes, in addition to those two main ingredients, some celery, fresh ginger, garlic and toasted coconut.

You see, the trick to surviving this season that so many of us denigrate with words starting with a “D” is to respond with plenty of “F,” “R” and “S.”  Flannel, reading material and soup.


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