BY LES McCARTHY
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
September 11, 2014
This one word brings warmth to my heart and nourishment to my soul. It’s sweet, lovely, calming and brings with it acceptance and a verbal embrace. What a powerful word!
I arrived on the island a mere two months ago, and almost everywhere I’ve gone and almost everyone I’ve spoken with has said, “Welcome!” or—even better—“Welcome HOME!”.
I am home. I started this journey of searching for my Utopia seven years ago and I’ve come full circle. For the past 35 years I knew in my heart that I wanted to be up in the NW (somewhere) but thought I should “look around” a bit. So, I did. And, after looking at hundreds of towns and countless properties in nine other states, as I crossed over the bridge at Deception Pass onto Whidbey, I knew I’d found it. Utopia at last!
You’ve probably seen me: I’m the one walking along the wooded paths and prairies, on the beaches with the dog, or sitting on a bench overlooking the Saratoga Passage, mouth agape, like a large-mouthed bass, in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds me. I cannot fully grasp the reality that I live here! It is so breathtakingly beautiful!
I am the non-artist/non-farmer strolling along the store fronts and markets of Langley, Bayview and Coupeville soaking up the charm, totally astounded and delighted at all the creative gifts that are shared by our neighbors, whether they are art pieces, musical renditions or farm bounty…in whatever form. I am the one sitting at the bistro, enjoying every mouthful of something that I wouldn’t even dream of making—let alone, know how, and I am the one breathing in the sweat and craft at the Shakespeare festival—again, amazed by the passion, joy and spirit of those who live here—nearby.
Since I’ve been on the island I’ve managed to do more than I expected outside the house and less inside the house—with the sole reasoning being there is always so much to do here! I felt an urgency to pack as much into my days as I could—abandoning my business duties and all things related to moving in and getting settled.
And then I realized … I don’t have to LEAVE here! I’m not on vacation! I can do ALL of these things at my leisure because I LIVE here! It’s like a fabulous field trip—every day—if I want to partake!
I wake up wondering—where do I go today? What shall I do? I’ve made a bulletin board of all things possible to see and do each week/month (thank you Drew’s List for the info!). My house is near three wineries—which tour today? Which musical venue—there are so many; how do I decide? Which art gallery—do I go to Greenbank Farm or do I go to town? Or do I go antiquing or do I feel like seeing the alpaca and fiber farms?
I go where the winds blow me and along the way I’ll pick up a blended latte and I’ll stop at a farm stand or farmer’s market and pick up a beautiful bouquet of flowers or a fresh bunch of creamy-white turnips so beautifully bulbous I want to eat them raw! (And I can because they are for salads!)
As I drive north on 525, I pass meadows where sweet grasses perfume the air and mountains tower in the distance. I come around a bend (Penn Cove) and there before me, below bluebird skies, sailboats dot the sparkling blue waters. The scene is so perfectly perfect I want to cry.
It seems to be human nature to become complacent as we settle into our lives and jobs and homes and, with time, we tend to take where we live and those around us for granted … even a little. But, since I’ve been on the island, I’ve met transplants and islanders and no one really seems to be following that course! Everyone seems as enchanted and amazed as I am about being here, whether they’ve been here for 38 years or eight weeks, like me!
I’m finding that my neighbors and townspeople are helpful, friendly, community-minded and welcoming! Not to mention insanely creative and talented—on so many levels! My neighbors are varied in their talents and lifestyles and yet there is a commonality, as well. On my block are musicians and farmers and business owners and retirees with vast histories of lives well-lived and contributions too numerous to know about over just one glass of wine. These people are engaging and engaged!
Being the new kid on the block (literally) and coming from Chicago (last two years) and Denver (34 years before that) this is all new to me! I haven’t experienced this anywhere else. Chicago is a nice place to visit; Denver is a fabulous place to live…but here? This place is vibrant! This place is alive! This place is different.
This place is something special.
So, whether you’ve been here all your life or you’re a newbie like me—enjoy this island! Thank you, to those who have lived here before me, for your contributions of talent and time, energy and goodness that make this place so special. I plan to join you in your involvement—whatever that may be—and I whole-heartedly accept your Welcome.
And to those of you—newer on the island than myself…Welcome Home!
Les McCarthy is an author, tutor, life coach and in IPPY bronze medalist for her yearly health and nutrition calendars. She is a recent transplant to the island and is busy loving every glorious moment along with tending to the needs of her voracious local deer and slugs on a daily basis.
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