Seasons Of Whidbey

Bayview Christmas 2016

Taken at Bayview Farm and Garden

‘Tis the season, at least as I type this, it is the Holiday Season. Lots of lights (and also a good time of year for Northern Lights), lots of trees (though most of them are year-round residents, including holly), lots of romantic settings (which is partly because of the natural setting, partly because of the B&Bs, and partly because of the artistic and creative shop owners.) It is a good time to shop and wander without crowds and do something rare for this time of year, relax. It isn’t, however, the only season worth celebrating.

Take your pick of the twelve months. February gets Valentine’s Day. April is framed by the nearby Tulip Festival, which is also a good time to visit the rhodies (rhododendron) as they bloom, too. About that time, and for a few months longer, the whales arrive. Welcome the Whales with a parade that the whales sometimes attend – at a distance. Come the summer and tourist season hits main stride with art festivals, outdoor music and dancing, and boats sailing from marina to marina. Right in the middle is the Fourth of July, which some neighborhoods celebrate on the Third of July. Have fireworks on the Third, then head into Seattle or to other island events on the Fourth. Soon after that is the Whidbey Island Fair, an opportunity for a truly rural fair with 4-H, lumberjacks, rides, music, and plenty of people visiting their neighbors. It is so easy to find things to do in the last part of the summer that choosing becomes the toughest task, and then resting up for the next event. After Labor Day, and after the kids go back to school, the island quiets down again, which some use as the perfect time for coming to the island for a retreat. Autumn is also a great time for localvores to enjoy fresh harvests. Soon enough it is back to Thanksgiving and the holidays at the end of the year.

There’s a reason there’s always something to do on the island. The climate is mild. Thank the water for that. Islands get the benefit of cool water in summer, and water that may be warmer than the air in winter. Sure, snow falls, but it has to work harder at sticking when it’s close to the sea. The average high only varies by about 20F. The average low varies even less, about 15F. Except for November, there’s usually only about an inch or two of rain every month. November is probably the stormiest month, depending on the neighborhood. Pacific storms provide entertainment for storm watchers, and are also a good reason/excuse for candles, fireplaces, good books, and maybe a generator.

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source: wikipedia

The island is so long that there are several climates and an untold number of microclimates. The northern end of the island looks down the Strait of Juan de Fuca where west winds sweep in from the Pacific Ocean, which is also why there are long views to the horizon. The southern tip sees storms come up from the south, unhindered by any other land for dozens of miles, which is also why there are views to Mt. Rainier and Seattle’s skyline. Between the ends is a rain shadow that dominates on the Olympic Peninsula, and yet benefits the middle with milder weather. Gardeners and farmers get their pick of growing conditions. Flower and food lovers get the benefit of the diversity and variety.

There are several other seasons that are more familiar to their fans: hunting, fishing, clamming, crabbing, etc. Check with Island Tourism and WA Fish and Wildlife for details.

Checking officials and locals for details is a natural for any of the seasons. Asking around about your favorites is also a good idea. Wind surfers, kite boarders, bicyclists, sailors, dancers, quilters, bagpipers all find times that are theirs. I know I’ve missed several of the seasons, but listing them all would fill a book. Hopefully, this is enough to help you find your niche, your community, and your season. Enjoy!

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