The Nuthatch cabin is our island refuge where I get to gather greenery to make our own holiday wreaths.
IT’S A BLUSTERY DAY IN SHADYHANGER, to paraphrase one of my daughter’s favorite childhood picture books, “The Adventures of Dudley Dormouse.” (His home wood, Shadyhanger, always seemed like a good place to be from.)
Our tall firs are dancing the hula and rain has been drumming a tattoo on our metal roof since daybreak. It’s now 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and it’s already getting dark on Center Island, which I think we should consider renaming “Shadyhanger Island.”
Barbara and I are sitting by the fire and sipping a glass of wine as I turn on my laptop to reflect on the change of year. At times like this, there’s a kind of bliss to being so far removed from the rest of the world.
We are thankful to be fortunate. We just hosted our delightful daughter for the holidays. We have health challenges, but not today. We live in a place where I get to craft my own giant Christmas wreath of bent cedar, fir boughs, salal and wild holly. We have good friends and loving family, near and far.
Resolutions are something people talk about. Neither Barbara nor I take such things very seriously, but we do set goals for the coming year. She has applied for a writing fellowship in Alaska. I’m determined to work on a mystery novel or two. I’m hoping to get closer to the natural world. Do more birding and trail building. Get to know some Lopez Islanders. Make more beer.
Barbara asks if I mind being so isolated on our island. The answer is “mostly, not.” But I do treasure old friendships, and keeping them going can be a challenge when people are in Seattle, Olympia or Portland, caught up with the daily tasks of life and the pleasures and headaches of the city while I’m here tootling around on my boat and taking photos of birds. So, please, come and visit.
A pair of hooded mergansers — a male in foreground, and female beyond — bobs in winter waves on Reads Bay, off Center Island.
One challenge for me in 2020 will be to feel involved in important decisions for our nation. In 2004, I felt compelled to go to Florida, Land of the Hanging Chad, to help Miami’s inner-city voters get to the polls on Election Day. This year’s election is far more crucial to our future.
Tonight we’ll all raise glasses to mark the arrival of a new year — but not a new decade; that will be 2021, my sweet librarian wife insists. (She also was a stickler for claiming the 21st century started in 2001.) Here’s hoping that in months to come, science, education and compassion will triumph over ignorance, lies and intolerance. That we’ll once again find leadership that honors and cherishes America’s constitution rather than showing it brazen contempt. That our democracy will survive the buffeting winds of demagogy.
It could be a blustery year. My personal wish for friends and family, including you, dear reader, is for health and happiness, love and delight.
New year, new beer: Life can’t be too bad when you get to concoct your own brewskis. Here are the newest ales from Nuthatch Brewing.