The August Letter

Friends,                                                                                  August 12, 2016

As it turns out Birch Bay is the favorite Summer getaway spot for the locals in western Washington.   Wide, wide beaches appear at low tide that welcome kids, families and folks digging for clams.  The limit is 20 clams per digger; take your wife/buddy and get 40 and that’s enough for a good dinner.  A small “Funland” with go carts is nearby and there is a nice sized water slide park with a swimming pool just down the street from our neighborhood.  Four small restaurants are here and lots of parking spaces.  Our little neighborhood sits on the hill overlooking these beautiful beaches and blue waters.  Leslie pointed it out:  there are no corporate businesses here – it’s all mom and pop and low key.  And no crowds.  It’s Mayberry.

Blaine is our address as that’s the closest town – it’s a short 10 min drive to downtown, pop. 3,700 or so.  The northern city limit sign for Blain is next to the border of Canada.  The city’s motto:  Blaine is where America begins.  There’s a cool bar there with Sunday afternoon Texas Hold ‘Em poker games.  Twenty five bucks to buy in and play – I’m not telling them I’m from Texas until I take their money.  Winner of the game gets 400-500 bucks as they have 20-30 players filling three tables.  Blaine has a nice marina with about 100 boats and a cool park for the kids.

I can really feel being on the West Coast again.  I lived in LA for 7 years.  Lived in SF Bay area 15 years.  And now coming back here I realize the differences in people and tastes more clearly.  There is so much more sophistication here, even in backwoods northern Washington.  Every Mexican restaurant we’ve eaten at here is better than any we ate at in Corpus Christi.  Same thing with other cuisines.

Flowers are everywhere.  Huge, three foot baskets of flowers are on the light poles in all the little cities and fabulous.  Plus, people here are into growing things and the flowers in front yards here will blow you away.  They plant trees here, in the middle of a forested region.  There are very few fences between houses and farmlands.  Instead they plant fifty evergreen trees a foot apart and create walls of green that grow and grow – everything that grows here, GROWS here.  The soil is a sandy loam and looks like cocoa powder.  It drains quickly and the potatoes love the freedom to grow which is why so many are planted here.  Just order hash browns with your breakfast and you get a plateful of local spuds and they are damn good.

The people here are happy.  It’s immediately noticeable on the street and in the grocery store.  They are not friendly like we are in Texas.  I remember when I first got to LA and gave a nod and “howdy” to a stranger they jumped back like I had a knife.  Same thing here.  The Canadians are even worse and lots of them are about.  Noticeable is that the young women here walk with strength and kindness – they are not hooked into the glamour game.  Most of the children are enjoyable to be around as they seem grounded as well.  And there is no real crime. I don’t lock cars or doors or even worry about it.

The peach crop was big and tasty this year which prompted Leslie to buy a half case and do some magic – the jars are on the counter.  She made some pickles, too.  All because of Joe’s Garden.  Bellingham is the big city close to us, about a 20 min drive.  And in city limits is Joe’s Garden, about 20 acres of organic veggies and this is where you buy it from the farm.  Lettuce – 99 cents.  Onions, garlic, blueberries, carrots, celery – there’s a roomful of produce that we stock up on – it’s like having your own vegetable garden and fabulous.

Pete baptized me by buying me a growler.  Nope, it’s not a dog.  It’s a heavy stainless steel container I take to the mini-marts where they fill it with craft beer, the good stuff.  And obviously save using a bottle or cans that need to be recycled.  Sunday is growler day for both of us and we get it filled with local brews.  Yum.

Joining the two crows in the back yard is a black squirrel – nose to toes.  Never seen one like it.  So, Leslie buys five pounds of peanuts to keep Blackie and the crows fed.  It’s her Cancer instinct.  She’s delighted to be here.  So am I.  As times change…

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