Apologies for sounding like the island version of “A Prairie Home Companion”, but it’s been a quiet week here on Whidbey Island. Every year is different, but January is one of the best months for relaxing and unwinding.
The weather has calmed. Storms are headed north of us (which Alaskans can readily deal with) and south of us (unfortunately turning California’s ashes into mud that may slide). Today’s temperature flirted with 60F. The rest of the week has a forecast that challenges stereotypes (and shouldn’t every stereotype be challenged?).
Chainsaws aren’t as busy. During the storms, they fire up to clear roads and roofs. After the storms, they continue until debris has been turned into yard waste or firewood. Chippers create piles of sawdust and very chunky slow compost material.
The generators have been shut down, and put back into storage with the hope, but not the expectation, that they won’t be needed until next autumn.
With weather this warm, another sound may rumble through, lawn mowers. The grass isn’t growing much, but soon we’ll be in the rainy season when the grass races ahead while we wait for clear days to catch up and knock it back down – for a while.
Christmas crowds and carols have retreated. Seasonal visitors returned home, ready to return for the next season. February kicks off a series of seasons: Valentine’s Day, Mystery Weekend, various festivals for mussels and tulips and the arts, always the arts. For a few weeks, though, the population settles down, shrinking lines in the stores, waits in the ferry lines; and increasing the likelihood that someone you see will be someone you know.
It’s a fine time for watching wildlife. Herons, eagles, seals, and whales are always around. The ones near or on land are less likely to be scared off by people and playthings. Patient watchers can get closer than usual simply by sitting still and waiting for the life to walk or fly by.
It’s a fine time for visiting friends, especially those who work in tourism. In a few months, they’ll be busy making the money that pays the bills through the winter. Get out the wine, the candles, the roasts, soups, and stews, and simply visit for a while.
There are more dramatic times of the year, and that’s the point for many islanders. January as a time to rest and relax? Resting and relaxing doesn’t only happen on tropical beaches, and doesn’t have to happen somewhere else, someplace that’s a ‘there’. It can happen here, if you live in the right ‘here’.