From the Managing Editor –
Welcome to the sixth print edition of Whidbey Life Magazine.
As autumn turns to winter, and we retrieve our sweaters—from the back of a closet or the bottom of a drawer, it’s a fitting time to recognize the contributions of our domesticated livestock. Many of our fields and pastures on Whidbey are dotted with sheep, but few of us make the connection between these animals and the sweaters on our backs, the scarves around our necks, the mittens on our fingers. Lydia Christiansen, the founder of Abundant Earth Fiber Mill, has made that connection a way of life. Our story about her Clinton mill is a fascinating read; her operation is the essence of “locally sourced,” and Christiansen’s pioneering pluck lifts the heart.
The “Whidbey Way with Wool” theme continues in a story about islanders who create magic with their materials. Whidbey is graced with a large community of fabric artists—spinners, weavers, felters—and writer Natalie Olsen, herself a fiber artist, profiles three of them and their one-of-a-kind creations.
While sheep as a species serve a utilitarian purpose, artist Claudia Pettis shows us their individual personalities and endearing quirks. Her many years as a breeder and shepherd inform her portraits of sheep, and her abiding love infuses each with personality. In explaining her sources of inspiration, Pettis reflects on childhood summers spent in the company of a true islander with whom she discovered a deep affinity for Whidbey’s land and way of life.
We are thrilled to feature the work of several different photographers in a single story on Deception Pass Bridge. Depending on the season, the time of day, and the angle of the shot, the bridge can seem reassuringly solid or mysteriously ethereal. If you’re unfamiliar with the origins of this connecting link between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, some of the historical tidbits in our short essay may surprise you…and the portraits will certainly delight you.
Classical proportions, honest design, and native materials make the barn a beloved structure. Whidbey is fortunate to have more than its share of historic barns, but decay and loss of purpose threaten this icon of rural life. Writer Harry Anderson introduces you to the individuals and organizations that keep our island barns standing.
No issue of Whidbey Life Magazine is complete without at least one article about the food that is provided by our favored terroir and the chefs who are passionate about preparing it. Leslie Irish Evans takes us down to the beach to observe oyster gardeners planting, tending, and harvesting their crops. And writer Kate Poss bids us pull up chairs at the tables of Roaming Radish Gastropub in its new setting—a renovated airplane hangar where island favorites Jess and Jon-Paul Dowdell work their culinary wizardry.
Our emphasis on bigger and bolder photographs continues. Thanks are due to the many who contributed photos but especially to staff photographers Marsha Morgan and David Welton, who continue to chase down and capture the images that express the spirit of our stories.
Winter approaches. In this—as in every season—we continue to celebrate all things Whidbey.
Dianna MacLeod, Managing Editor