BY STEPHANIE BARBÉ HAMMER
January 13, 2016
A few months ago a Langley acquaintance told me he felt sorry for me because I live north of Classic Road. That is to say, he pitied me because I live in Coupeville, which—if you’re reading this blog and aren’t from these parts—is in the middle of Whidbey Island.
Now friends, don’t get me wrong. I love spending time in South Whidbey. The Clinton Ferry gives me a thrill every time I ride it and I’m a denizen of the Star Store and Star Store Annex, as well as all the Langley bookstores. I’m a huge fan of the Bayview Taproom and the Bayview Famer’s Market.
I love that walk past the statues near the bench in downtown Langley where you can see the water. And who doesn’t dig the Music for the Eyes boutique? Last time I was there, I snagged an amazing pair of hamsa earrings that I lent to my daughter and then never saw again; she loved them so much she, uh, requisitioned them. The South Whidbey libraries are gorgeous, and I’ve heard wonderful concerts and attended neat writing workshops at the high school in Langley.
But listen—if you take the time to drive a little bit further up the road, it’s pretty nifty here, too.
Last Thursday is a case in point. I took my usual walk past the kettle in Pheasant Farm Acres. We have a couple of kettles in our neighborhood and they’re super cool to look at. They’re huge bowl-like holes that were created by the melting of detached, buried glaciers. Over time, the holes have filled in with trees. (To learn more, you can check out http://www.britannica.com/science/kettle.)
Then I turned up the road and took in a view of the prairie that’s managed by the Pacific Rim Institute. The Institute’s volunteers are bringing several endangered plants, endemic to the area, back to health and they have an owl barn that’s home to several BIG owls. You can see them, sometimes, flying around the neighborhood. The birds, not the volunteers. Just to be clear.
I came home, put on some nicer clothes and went off to Thirsty Thursday at the bayleaf wine shop in downtown Coupeville. “Gosh,” my husband said, “hope it’s not too deserted there. It can get pretty quiet here in the winter.”
Here’s a picture of the scene:
I think it’s safe to report that the joint was jumping. Our friend Sara joined us in this packed-to-capacity tasting room. FYI, Beth, the owner, is an incredible connoisseur of wines from Washington State and beyond (like Greece), and she’s the most nicely knowledgeable person I know regarding what libation to try and what yummy cheese to pair with it.
Then Sara and I drove further north to go see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Oak Harbor. A young dad and his tiny son held the doors for us as we came in from the cold and stood in a line of about six people.
“You see?” Sara said. “It’s not complicated going to the movies here.”
I won’t say that the Oak Harbor movie theater is grandiose. But it’s clean, the seats are comfortable and they show first-run movies without a hitch. The sound was great and the projectionist was on point.
And the folks in the theater with us—let me tell you about them.
I’ve already mentioned the man and his son. There was another man with an even tinier daughter. And there were lots of youngish guys who were each sitting alone throughout the room.
I asked Sara about them. “Well,” she said. “Remember, this is a military town.”
Then the movie began. I chomped on popcorn and wished my mom was still alive to see the movie with Sara and me. My mom and I saw three of the original Star Wars movies together and she loved watching handsome Harrison Ford in action. (Sara and I do too, just for the record).
As I looked around the room, I noticed the guys in the audience raptly watching the X-wing star fighters, and realized that many of them would actually know how to fly fighter planes. Or repair them
I probably should confess, at this point, that I’m one of those leftist-leaning hippy-pacifist types, and I’m not crazy for the airplane noise that we get sometimes on my part of the island. But I have to tell you—there was something moving about being in the room with those guys, watching Star Wars. Because—like it or not—they are our Jedi.
So friends, remember this: when you go further up Highway 20, past Langley and Freeland and, yes, even past Greenbank (technically, a central-island community), you’ll see owls and deer, and navy guys and gals. You can also drink some incredible wines, visit delicious restaurants, and still see some inspiring views of the water and the land.
And, by the way, we don’t have a rabbit problem here. At least not yet.
Stephanie is a published poet and novelist who loves teaching. She is offering a class on the origins of magical realism on Jan. 23 at the Writers Workshoppe in Port Townsend. Visit here for more information: http://www.writersworkshoppe.com/workshops.
To learn more about Stephanie, visit: http://www.stephaniebarbehammer.net.
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I just read your blog and loved your comments about magical realism up and down the island. I just learned about that genre and am writing a book with my ‘writing brother’ in that vein. I wish I would have known about your class. Are you offering more? Tell me yes. BTW, thanks for your comments about the military men watching Star Wars up at the Oak Harbor theater being our own Jedis. Well said.