Friends, October 21, 2016
To all our print subscribers: Sorry we are late this month. Our printer shot craps and that’s why your mailing label is so funky. A new printer comes in a few days and we’ll get December’s issue out to you in better shape and a timely fashion. This is a good reason to become a member on the site – you can get access to the monthly issues faster not waiting for the mail to bring you Skywatch. But I do understand if you like to get mail. I do.
We dodged a bullet with the weatherman predicting we would be blasted by an early Winter storm last week. It rained and we had 40-50 mph winds which blew the leaves and pine needles out into the street. But no real damage came from it, and we didn’t lose power – that’s the most important part. It is so beautiful now with the maples, birch trees and several other trees I can’t name yet all turning brilliant red and yellow as their leaves scatter in the breezes. Having a wall of pines and evergreens as a backdrop makes it even more dramatic. We love it here.
An article I read explained something we discovered here in Birch Bay. The author says that when people have “awe” in their lives they are happier, friendlier, more creative and have better health. Awe comes in many flavors as some folks find it in music, sports, art, mathematics – and in our case, we find awe in the extraordinary beauty that surrounds us here.
I haven’t even told you about the mountain. When the clouds part, Mt. Baker commands the view you have looking east. At nearly 11,000 feet, this snow covered, sleeping for now, active volcano is a majestic presence in the not too distant skyline. The Nooksack Indians called the mountain Kulshan which translates into: White Sentinel. Kulshan is the highest point of the Cascade Range that circles Birch Bay and is only about 40 miles from our house. The clouds also become another mountain range as they tumble and move across the sky. To us, there is awe is every direction. The sky here is bigger, wider, longer and always in motion with the San Juan islands parked in a cold, blue sea underneath the clouds out beyond the Birch Bay. The mountain, the valleys, the farmlands, the islands, the forest and heavens make this place The Great Northwest. And it is.
I missed the Oktoberfest in Deming earlier this month but will catch the next one. Just 325 folks live there but they have the Deming Log Show Grounds where they hold events to raise money for “busted up loggers.” This year was the 34th edition and featured the Swiss Alpine Horns and the Tirolean Dancers. I’m going next year.
Apples are still being harvested but you don’t really need to buy them. Just get out on the little two lane farm roads and you’ll pass apple trees here and there on vacant properties with a good crop on the ground and still on the tree. Johnny Appleseed must have lived here. It’s mushroom hunting time now. Several varieties live in the forest including lobster ‘shrooms and chanterelles. The list I saw had 32 different kinds of ‘shrooms that can be harvested and eaten here. However, there was a big warning in this article on identifying the mushrooms carefully as at least 8 deadly poisonous types are also on the forest floor. Yikes!
You don’t have to guess - I’m out on the back roads and it’s so fine. Two lane heaven. Speed limit is 50 mph. In 10 minutes I climb out of a sweet valley and enter a dark stretch of the forest with huge pines blocking the sunlight for a few minutes. And suddenly I’m climbing, climbing and find myself on a ridge top nearly 1,000 feet above the valley floor – the vista is incredible and I see why some families have carved out a little piece of land that gives them a view that leaves you breathless. While others have a winding drive way that leads back into the trees and total privacy as their house and yard is somewhere in the forest beyond sight. Leslie and I are both in awe of all we see here driving down these two lane roads. I think we’ll live longer hanging out in the Great Northwest. We never knew awe like this before. We’re staying.