Summer Sailing with Grama T

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By Teri Williams

The summer of 2016 is flying by!! Squeezing in some family fun is a must and Grama T found some on her SV Blue Pearl. 30′ filled to the rails with kids and grandkids (9 total) for an overnight in Roche Harbor, San Juan Island. When you have this many on a boat meant to sleep two, you head to a dock with amenities and space. Roche is a great place where you will find activity for all ages. But the fun is being on the boat together. Had great wind, plenty of sunshine and enjoyed a crab dinner coming home. Life does not get better than this.

Where do you find your bliss?

Where do you find your bliss?

Deck hands taking a break

Deck hands taking a break

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Fish on!!!

Fish on!!!

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Dad time

Dad time

Jammie time

Jammie time

Reading books at bedtime

Reading books at bedtime

Gramps J having fun

Gramps J having fun

Brother time

Brother time

Nap time

Nap time

Love these two!

Love these two!

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Watching for whales

Watching for whales

Girls getting too much wind

Girls getting too much wind

Life is good

Life is good

Crabbing with Gramps J

Crabbing with Grampa J

All hands on deck

All hands on deck

Hope to see you out on the water enjoying family and the Salish Sea that surrounds us here on Orcas Island.

Grama T

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Board Work as Life Work

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By Marlis K. SandwithIMG_3319_bw

When I graduated from junior high, my teachers and classmates presented me with a certificate which read, “Future Mayor of Friday Harbor, Washington.” Mind you, I graduated from a junior high in Kirkland, Washington, as my family had not yet made the move to San Juan Island. I guess my love of the islands was already evident to the people around me, even at that young age. Fortunately for the mayoral candidates of Eastsound, I am not furry, feathery, or scaly enough to compete for the coveted position of Mayor of Eastsound. Hence, I will leave it to my animal friends to represent us all in the important issues facing our little village.

However, I’ve always been very civic-minded, and very interested in the public sphere, on both local and global scales. As a mother, and a former teacher, I’ve been able to be involved with many activities, organizations, and events both in and out of schools. Now, as my three children get older, I am asking myself: how can I give back to my community? Luckily, there are many fine options from which to choose. On Orcas Island alone, there are at least 104 non-profit organizations, in addition to all the public and private organizations that meet community needs. With the exception of serving on my son’s preschool board for a few years, and a year working administratively for the local non-profit, Lahari, board work is relatively new to me.

Last year, after some very positive experiences via my middle child, I joined the Funhouse Commons board of directors, as you may remember from a previous blog post. The Funhouse is a non-profit community center that provides mentoring programs, out of school time programs, teen programs and, in partnership with the Orcas Island School District, education and college preparation programs, as well as facilities for classes and meetings, clubs, and much, much more. Most importantly, The Funhouse Commons is a critical safety net for the youth of Orcas Island–and by extension their families.  This is a link to a favorite video of the Funhouse staff members sharing her story of why the Funhouse is so very important.  Our mission statement is as follows:

The Funhouse serves the urgent needs of young people and strengthens community bonds by providing a safe and stimulating environment where all can learn, discover, create, socialize and be heard.

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This year, I was appointed by the San Juan County Council to serve as a Land Bank Commissioner, representing District 2 (Orcas Island). The Land Bank is a public/county entity, funded by a 1% Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) which all buyers pay when they purchase property in San Juan County. Here is a link to a great piece about the history of the San Juan County Land Bank. The mandate of the Land Bank is as follows:

To preserve in perpetuity areas in the county that have environmental, agricultural, aesthetic, cultural, scientific, historic, scenic or low-intensity recreational value and to protect existing and future sources of potable water.

While some may question why I would want to commit myself to such things when I already have a life filled to the brim with three children, a husband, pets, and my work, I say two things:

1. If you want something done, ask a busy person.

2. Board work is life work. 

Though I didn’t realize it before I came to board work, much of what I practice in my board work is surprisingly applicable to my life at large. There are many times when I am sitting in a meeting when I think to myself: What if I applied some of this intention and work to my own family? To the way I work with my clients? To the way I communicate with others?

Here are examples of some things we practice in board work, that are also beneficial to practice in daily life:

  1. The practice of time stewardship. 
  2. The practice of constructive disagreement and dissent from the majority.
  3. The practice of staying on-topic and focusing on higher goals/ideals.
  4. The practice of upholding ethical standards.
  5. The practice of upholding your organization’s mandate, or mission statement.
  6. The practice of action-oriented discussions and follow-through.
  7. The practice of listening & speaking skills.
  8. The practice of reaching consensus.
  9. The practice of keeping one’s word/integrity.
  10. The practice of confidentiality and avoidance of gossip.

This is actually the Short List. And I must add that I know some of you reading this are chuckling to yourselves, or, worse yet—scoffing. Board work is often incredibly arduous and difficult work (or even boring), and the way I’ve characterized it above sounds as if it’s working more toward spiritual awakening than the management, stewardship, and fiscal responsibility for an organization. I know there are many of you who have had less than spiritual (or even tolerable) experiences on boards. I am lucky to have had very positive experiences thus far with the boards on which I serve, though it’s certainly not easy. But as I say to my kids: the things most worth doing are often the hardest to do.

There is another thing I learned from two beloved teachers of mine that I often tell people (and if you know me, you probably already know what I’m going to say): my life is not busy; it is full. My husband and I are both involved in many areas of our community, and though it can be overwhelming at times, we feel it’s important to do our part, to the extent that we are able. We are constantly amazed by other community members who are much busier than we are, and to whom we are so grateful for all they do to keep the wheels turning on our little island.

If I’ve sparked your interest at all about the Funhouse or the San Juan County Land Bank, please contact me. I’d love to talk more with you about either or both, as they are near and dear to my heart.

Marlis K. Sandwith :: Associate Broker :: T. Williams Realty :: marlis@twilliamsrealty.com

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Celebrating Summer in the School Garden

A long and productive spring in the school garden led right up to the last day of school! What better way to celebrate and culminate another school year than with a pizza party in the garden?2016PizzaParty_SchoolGarden (11 of 17)

Orcas Island Elementary students each spend one hour a week working in the school garden in a class I teach called Farm to Classroom. At almost 8,000 square feet, the school garden requires individual attention from each of the 200 students. Some children take on assigned tasks such as weeding, hauling compost and planting.

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Harvesting strawberries and pulling weeds.

Other children take on projects of their own choosing. One class was dubbed “the diggers” for their love of digging!

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“The Diggers”

Another group of students took weekly responsibility for watering plants.

13499604_1783696268532929_564887034_oOne boy decided it was time to properly install the large stainless sink we salvaged from the old shop building before it was torn down. Each week he would lead a group in the many steps it took to put  the sink in its final resting place.

When the wood chips arrived, donated by Tim’s Tractor Service and delivered by Tim’s son James Segault of Island Climb Inc., the students ban together to move the massive mountain all around the garden. Throughout all of this garden work you can see real-world examples of children caring for the environment, working together, problem solving, communicating, using physical skills, and eating healthy. These are important life skills that no standardized test can ever measure.

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A delivery of wood chips for our paths from Tim’s Tractor Service and Island Climbing Inc.

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Working together to move a mountain of wood chips!

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Unloading a truck full of firewood. Many hands make for light work.

A cornerstone of the children’s time in the garden is the idea that you may only enjoy the fruits of your labor, after you labor! The last ten minutes of each class is dedicated to “harvest time”. During this time the children graze in the garden, eating fresh from the plants they have nurtured. This may be one of the most rewarding times for me as the teacher. It only seemed fitting to end our school year with a garden pizza party using our cob oven.

The pizza party couldn’t happen with out the help and generous donation of James Ferraris of Soul Flour Bakery, AKA The Pizza Man!  James makes the best pizza dough and knows how to bring each pizza out with the perfect amount of doneness.

The children are the real artists at this event. They are supplied pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. The rest is up to them! The toppings come from the plants they lovingly grew. Pizzas topped with strawberries, sorrel and mint are popular. Garlic scapes, borage flowers, rosemary and raspberries top others. There is no limit to the creations they come up with. After each pizza comes out of the oven the chef or chefs responsible tell their classmates what ingredients they used. Then the creators get the first slices and the other children sample after them. Pizza after pizza comes through in this way. The children turn into food critics, analyzing the combinations placed before them. The pizza is devoured and never are the usual pepperoni and sausage toppings missed.

Another remarkable year in the school garden has been completed. If you would like to see our garden please stop by and check it out. If you would like a tour of the garden, we will be on this year’s Orcas Island Garden Club tour June 25th and 26th.

Now that school is out, I’ll be spending the summer with family and friends, taking road trips, and helping people buy and sell real estate on this amazing Island I call home. I love summertime on Orcas Island!

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Johnny visiting Momma in the garden.

 

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Community Spotlight: Crane Island

Sandi Friel - Orcas Island Real Estate brokerPosted by Sandi Friel

If you take the simple life on Orcas Island and dial it down a few notches, you might end up on Crane, a 250-acre private island paradise dangling south of Deer Harbor on Orcas’s west side.

Crane aerial label

This quiet, pedestrian-friendly island is accessible only by private boat. I had the opportunity to get to know Crane when I sold a waterfront home there a few years ago. And on a beautiful day recently I got to visit again, this time bringing a contractor to look at a vacant lot I have listed for sale.

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Approaching the Crane Island Community Dock

We landed at the community dock on the north end and took a 20-minute stroll to the property on the south side, seeing only deer and listening to bird songs along the way. We passed by the community beach, the airstrip and tiny community hall that also houses a fire truck.

Road on Crane

Typical country lane on Crane Island

Circling around the 50-acre nature preserve, we arrived at our destination – a pristine 2-acre waterfront lot purchased in the 1960s when Crane was first platted.

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View from the 2-acre Crane Island waterfront lot listed for only $199k  Click for details

Many Crane properties are held for generations as a summer getaway. There are only a few full time folks on the island, and residents are affectionately known as Craniacs. I asked one full-timer what’s the best part about living on Crane. Her answer was multi-faceted:

Five Reasons To Love Crane, as told by a Craniac:

  1. Surrounded by natural beauty
  2. Nature preserve
  3. Sense of community – we train for fires and first aid together. One of the most organized fire protection efforts on an outer island.
  4. Feels remote but it’s quite convenient to Deer Harbor and Orcas Landing groceries, restaurants and ferry.
  5. We have a community center with a new ping pong table!

 

If you feel tempted by the simple life on Crane Island, and think you have what it takes to be a Craniac, contact me!

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Our First Day of Forest School

I sent my child into the forest with strangers and he came out more alive then ever!

Did you know that Orcas Island has a Forest School? Forest School is relatively new idea in America but has been successful and commonplace in many European countries for several decades. The Orcas Island Forest School offers a play-based, all- outdoor, nature immersed and child directed education. Children ages 2.5 to 6 years old learn and play together in a multi-age, outdoor setting.king of rock

When I first heard about the Forest School model I was instantly intrigued. My son Johnny wasn’t quite old enough and hadn’t fully potty trained so I had time to think it over. I teach at Orcas Island Public School where I created and teach a class called Farm to Classroom.  I consider myself and outdoor educator since my classes take place in our school garden for most of the school year. I have seen first hand how valuable it is for children to spend time immersed in nature. I have seen the excitement of discovery. The glow of rosy cheeks, flush from the warmth of the sun or the sting of the wind and how that translates to a mind fully engaged. I want more of this for all of our school children. Ultimately I knew this was what I wanted for my youngest child too. forest walker

I signed my son up for the morning session, two days a week. We talked about it. He seemed excited. We went on vacation and missed the open house day. We returned from vacation and tried to connect for a quick visit before the first day but life was hectic and it didn’t happen. I drove Johnny to see the forest site the evening before his first day. He seemed to be excited.

On the day of Forest School we wake up early and pack Johnny’s lunch, something he has never done before. He is excited to get dressed and wear his long-johns under his clothes. We fill his new backpack with extra clothes, a water bottle, and the packed lunch. We get in the car and drive down the hill and across the main road to the back entrance of Camp Orkila where the Forest School is held. As we drive through the woods Johnny says, “Mommy, the woods are dark.” He is right, they are. Next he tells me he is nervous, gulp. We arrive and park in front of the big red barn. We meet another little boy who is coming for his first day also. We walk over to meet one of the teachers who is waiting in the field near the forest edge. Johnny starts to cling. Then he wants me to hold him. When we get to the teacher he can no longer speak. Oh no! I start to really regret not going to the open house! I know he is going to be safe and have a great time, but he is not quite three years old and he doesn’t have the same perspective. All of the children arrive and it is time for them to walk together into the deep dark forest, leaving their parents behind. Johnny is clinging tightly now. He won’t let go, he won’t say goodbye. I give him a hug and a nudge. His new teacher reaches down and asks if Johnny needs a hand with his new backpack. They walk off into the forest together. I hold my breath. I watch. into the forestAt the edge of the forest he turns around and I wave. It is time for me to turn and walk back to the big red barn. As I do, I hear Johnny yell “momma” in that panicked voice that every parent fears.  I wave again but keep walking. I hear him yell again and this time he is crying. Oh my God, I have just sent my son into the woods with complete strangers and he thinks I am abandoning him! I am the worst mom in the world! The other mothers comfort me in the parking area. I can still hear my sweet little boy crying for me and it is ripping my heart out. I start to cry. One of the other moms walks into the forest to see if the teachers want me to come get Johnny. She returns to report that he was in  the arms of one of the teachers “snuggled like a bear cub”. He was whimpering, but showing interest in his surroundings. The other moms convince me to leave. The teachers have my number and I live just a two minute drive away. I drive away with tears in my eyes. I get home and look down at the forest below where I have just left my son, and I pray that I have made the right decision. Within a few minutes the phone rings, “Is this Johnny’s mom?” Oh no! My heart skips a beat. It is one of his teachers calling to tell me that Johnny has stopped crying and is currently exploring the forest with the other children. Yay!

Two very long hours later I return to the camp and walk into the forest to the meet Johnny at the covered area where they hang back packs and keep supplies. My heart is racing as I get closer. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around my sweet little boy. I can’t wait for him to see that I haven’t abandoned him. But he is nowhere to be seen? I see other kids. Where is Johnny? One of the teacher sees my face and kind of nods in the direction of some little Superman boots sticking out from behind the shelter. I hear some whispering and snickering. I know this game! “Where is Johnny?” I ask loudly. He comes running out with his arms wide open. His smile is huge and his cheeks are flushed. Sigh.

There is no time to ask the teachers how things went. Johnny is running into the forest leading me to his “favorite tree” and then off to his “favorite rock” and then shouting excitedly that he heard a wood pecker just like the one at our house.

We finally get back to pick up his backpack and say goodbye. As he emerges from the forest I see that he has put his backpack on his front. I realize that it is much too big and he tells me that if he wears it this way it doesn’t tip him over!emerging from the forest

He leads me to some rocks and we sit on the biggest rock to eat his lunch. He talks excitedly about his morning in the forest. He tells me he wants to come back again and again. Phew! I am not the worst mom in the world after all!

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I am so excited that my youngest son has this opportunity. We have many amazing pre-school and school options on Orcas Island, all of them are unique and wonderful. I am grateful to live in a place that values the education and well-being of all our children. What a wonderful community to live in.

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Mandy lives with her family on Orcas Island where she teaches at the local Elementary School and sells real estate at T Williams Realty.

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Lost On Waldron

teri_cropBy Teri Williams

SV Blue Pearl left Bay Head Marina on Orcas Island at 12:45 p.m., headed to Mail Bay, Waldron Island on the west side of Presidents Channel. Drizzling, no wind (Jay says of course, we are taking our sailboat out!). No current book but the tide has a small change so off we go.

Arrived Mail Bay at 2:45. Rain stopped, flat water. Warm. Overcast.

IMG_7590Uncle Bill met me with a big hug and said, “Let’s go!” Off we went on his four-wheeler with duck tape and a jerry rigged gear shift. He was hell bent on showing me all of his property I was listing. What a ride! I heard the history of Bill Carlson’s Waldron at full throttle flying down old dirt roads. I could just see my cousins Mike and Howie back in the day flying down these roads on horseback to get to school. Bill purchased acreage for logging back in the sixties when he was a young buck (he is 79 today). A proud man, he told me of the wells dug, timber harvested and Mail Bay log dump, pointing out the relics of machinery over grown with berry briars, building the family A-frame cabin and clearing fields for cattle. He no longer logs or runs cattle on Waldron, but the memories are fresh in his mind. We jumped pot holes, swerved at the one tractor we passed and down shifted on the downhill run due to the fact the only good brake on the four-wheeler was on his bad side (body strength lost). I was hangin’ on!!

IMG_7592Back at the cabin, Bill says Jay should take me on a tour in the old rusty dodge 4×4, which says “Harvey go now” on the side panel. True to course, you had to coast-start the truck. Good thing it was parked pointing down hill. One brake works, the clutch had a bungee cord holding it together. Jay turned the key, the dash lit up, he popped the clutch and off we went. When asked if I knew where we were going, I said confidently, “Oh ya!.” After all, I just went road trippin’ with Uncle Bill!

To the untrained eye, all the dirt roads on Waldron look the same. They run like a maze through a dense lush forest with surprise openings of field and gardens. Eclectic homes tucked here and there, long driveways leading to privacy and a simple life. We were headed to find the post office and County dock. Not too far from the A-frame, no worries. Well, we soon found out that you could drive for hours and still not know which direction you were headed. We met two island girls walking down the dirt road, case of beer and a dog in hand. Looked like a “roll with it” way to spend a day on Waldron. I am grateful they did not take offense and “school” these two obvious trespassers too much. They pointed in the opposite direction the truck was pointing and said, “Head that way until you see the big road.” That is the County Road. Take a right and you will run right in to the Post Office. Duh! Of course, look for the big road.

Eventually, we found the dock and post office. It was getting dark and we still had to navigate back to the A-frame, so we spent just enough time there to know that we need to get back to this quiet island and get more history, starting first with the County dock and post office.

IMG_7589Sunday morning found us starting our SV Blue Pearl engine at 10:14 a.m., leaving uncle Bill’s dock. After tea, coffee and watermelon at the A-frame, we headed back to Orcas knowing we would need to return to explore more of Waldron Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

 mandy card By Mandy Randolph

Here it is, March again. It certainly came in like a lion here on Orcas Island! I began thinking about the Lucky Irish as soon as my calendar turned. My Farm to Classroom students at Orcas Island Elementary got a baking lesson last week complete with some Irish history and basic chemistry.

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Bread soda was introduced in the early 1800s and it suddenly meant that people who didn’t have an oven—and virtually nobody had an oven then—could make soda bread. They cooked the bread in what’s called a bastible—a big cast-iron pot with a lid on it that would have been put right onto the coals or onto the turf fire. The great thing about soda is that it was not as perishable as yeast and it would have been relatively inexpensive. The Irish people would have had buttermilk from the cows (old-fashioned buttermilk is a by-product of making butter) and they would have been growing wheat, so they would have had flour (whole wheat of course).

A very basic explanation of the reaction between the soda and the acidic buttermilk was followed by a classic demonstration of the concept using baking soda and vinegar.

Time to make the bread!

Traditionally a cross was cut into the bread before baking. Some people said it was to let the fairies out. Some said it was to keep the devil out. But most likely it was to help the bread bake evenly!

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Add some rosemary or other herbs for a dash of flavor.

Bread is best when shared with friends!

INGREDIENTS:

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons caraway seeds or rosemary (optional)

1 teaspoon baking-soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (about) buttermilk

 

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet (or cast iron pan). Mix flour, caraway seeds, if using, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round. Place in cast iron pan. Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

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My Friend turns 20 after 80 years!

 

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Oh, to be young again.  I feel like it was only yesterday that I turned 20 years old.  Now, I had the experience of helping someone turn 20 years young.  Notice the different tense?  I know, you’re thinking, what’s the difference?

Today, February 29th, 2016, is the birthday of a dear friend of mine.  Even though she has travelled the world for the last 80 years, fitting more than one lifetime’s worth of adventures into her journey, Ann turns 20 today.  Ann is a “Leapling”, the name given to people born on Leap Day!  Can you imagine?  You come into this world, and then, as a child, you realize you only have a birthday every four years.

20 years old, and with a lifetime’s experience.  Love, children, travel, careers, friends. I met Ann when I was a young girl. We both lived on Orcas Island in the small “town” of Olga, Washington.  She became a family friend, and eventually my personal friend. Ann and her husband always bought whatever I was selling when I knocked on their door with the latest school fundraising idea in hand. She was there for my graduation, my wedding day, my baby showers. Ann loves to travel and I am usually the lucky one who gets to pick her up from the airport and hear about her latest adventure.  Ann even became the first person whose home I listed when I became a realtor.

This weekend we celebrated Ann’s birthday, which if you’re following along with me, doesn’t come along that often.  Ironically, we celebrated Ann’s birthday a day early! Ann wanted an easy and delicious way to celebrate and so she invited her friends to a pancake breakfast. We gathered at our local American Legion Post for their monthly pancake breakfast which also serves as a fundraiser.  Fresh buttermilk pancakes, crisp bacon, tender sausage, with eggs made to order.  How could you go wrong?  You can’t, especially if your friends are joining you on this special occasion, and then you follow it up with cake after breakfast.  That’s right, you heard me, CAKE AFTER BREAKFAST! The delicious carrot cake was made with love and care from Bev at Café Olga.  I know my two year old son thought it was an awesome way to celebrate, he even started off the Happy Birthday song for our friend Ann.  What a wonderful time was had by all!

Happy 20th birthday Ann! I am so grateful for this island that brought us together.

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What is your Winter Mindset?

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By Marlis K. Sandwith

If you’ve been around me lately, chances are you’ve heard me mention this article, by psychology researcher Kari Leibowitz, who went to the town of Tromsø, Norway to study its citizens’ seemingly low rates of wintertime depression. In her words, “how do the residents of northern Norway protect themselves from wintertime woes? And could these strategies be identified and applied elsewhere, to the same beneficial effects?” Why did she choose this particular town? There were several reasons she discusses in the article, but foremost is that Tromsø happens to be a town where the sun doesn’t rise at all from November to January—a period called “the Polar Night.”

Whoa. Can you imagine? This seemingly darkest of dark wintertimes is offset by another period in summer of “the Midnight Sun,” during May to July, when the sun never sets. But still.

Interestingly enough, Tromsø is also an island, and though it is geographically very wild and isolated,  it is much more densely populated (about the same as Bellingham, WA),  and has all the amenities of a small suburb or city, including a university, so it’s much different than Orcas Island. However, I’ve given a great deal of thought to wintertime blues (Leibowitz’s term is “seasonal wellbeing”) during this current winter. Over the years, I’ve known many people who have moved to the San Juan Islands only to move away again saying “I just can’t handle another winter here.”  It’s a real thing. I have many friends who strategically plan their warm-weather trips during the winter months to provide a welcome break from the dark, wet and cold. I’ve done the same myself, so that’s one of the reasons this article interested me so much.

When Leibowitz talked to the people of Tromsø, what she found was that “most residents, though, simply talked about the Polar Night as if it wasn’t a big deal. Many even expressed excitement about the upcoming season and the skiing opportunities it would bring,” and that “In Tromsø, the prevailing sentiment is that winter is something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured…..winter in Tromsø would be full of snow, skiing, the northern lights, and all things koselig, the Norwegian word for “cozy.” By November, open-flame candles would adorn every café, restaurant, home, and even workspace.”

During the course of her research, she came upon the work of a few other researchers whose unique research focuses on the concept of “mindset,” which is defined by Stanford Professor Alia Crum as “the lenses through which information is perceived, organized, and interpreted.” This led Leibowitz to the question: “Can we measure positive or negative mindset toward winter? And might this wintertime mindset have something to do with Tromsø residents’ psychological well-being during the Polar Night?”

When she finally studied the residents of Tromsø in regards to wintertime mindset, the results were pretty astounding. Not only did the results indicate that wintertime mindset may figure prominently in seasonal well-being in Norway, but also, that “the Wintertime Mindset Scale had strong positive correlations with every measure of well-being we examined, including the Satisfaction with Life Scale (a widely used survey that measures general life satisfaction), and the Personal Growth Composite (a scale that measures openness to new challenges). The people who had a positive wintertime mindset, in other words, tended to be the same people who were highly satisfied with their lives and who pursued personal growth.” AND, they learned that the farther North you go, the more positive the wintertime mindset.

Mind blown.

I’ve definitely had some winters that felt a bit difficult on a mental/emotional scale. And I’m a born-and-raised Washingtonian/Pacific Northwesterner. This place is definitely in every cell of my body. When I went to school at the University of Montana in Missoula (great town, great state, by the way), I physically missed the quality of the air at home. I often longed for the grey, rainy days that went so well with morning coffee and jazz. I missed Green. I missed Lush. I missed Salt Air. Don’t get me started; I’ll go on all day….foghorns, sound of water lapping on rock, kelp, tide pools, marine fog settling on valley farmland, the damp underbrush in a tall cedar forest, the way you can stand on a coastline and see/feel/touch the coming together and intermingling and sometimes-fury of all the elements striking each other with such force.

No matter where I’ve lived or traveled, my body, mind and soul have hearkened here. And in its defense, I must say we are quite lucky in many ways during wintertime in the San Juans, as my co-worker, Sandi Friel talks about in her post “The Shocking Truth: We Get Sun In Winter.” I’ve really noticed it this winter. For whatever reason, be it hormones, or experience, or grace, I am experiencing a positive wintertime mindset. When I say that, I do want to include a distinction that Leibowitz makes in her article: “this is not to suggest that those experiencing clinical wintertime depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, can magically cure themselves by adjusting their mindset. There’s a big difference between feeling cranky about the cold and clinical seasonal depression.” Big difference indeed, and one to which I am very sensitive and empathetic.

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But again, I’ve been enjoying Winter, and seeing that there is a lot to enjoy on Orcas in Winter, but it does require a different mindset for some. Here’s what I’ve been noticing and loving:

1. It’s an inward time.

Dark in the morning, dark in late afternoon (somewhere around 4pm near Winter Solstice), we are not so pulled out of ourselves, out of our homes to be going and doing so many things. This can be a great time of reflection and taking stock, and of looking forward to the lighter, more outward times ahead, when we are pulled outside again, with lots to do and light until 10pm.

2.   It’s a quiet time.

You read about it all the time—the frenzy of modern life. Even on little ol’ Orcas Island, we can get caught in it. But wintertime here is quiet. A great time to breathe, to focus on personal development, bring a healthy rhythm to your life. Go out on your boat for 3 hours and not see one other boat. Not a one!

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3.   There are fewer tourists.

Don’t get me wrong—tourism is important to our economy, but it does feel nice to have things settle down, to have the island it little more to ourselves again. This also means some of the shops and restaurants close for a bit, but I very much support my friends and neighbors taking a much-needed break, and I SO appreciate them when they open their doors again. As I write this I’m remembering that New Leaf Cafe is opening up again soon for the first time since just before Thanksgiving, and I’m over the moon with excitement!

4.   I now have a candle budget.

I am all about the cozy. What did they call it in the article? Koselig!  My father is German, so I like the German word that kind of goes along these lines—gemütlich.   I light at least one candle every single night. We heat our house with wood, so I am attached to the sights/sounds/smells of that as well. I bought several big blankets last year to have on hand in our family room specifically for cozying up. Lighting is big for me; I don’t like harsh, overhead light, but rather, several lamps that add to the cozy feeling. Lots of tea and popcorn going on at my house in the Winter. Slippers, boot warmers, cozy jammies and robes. Cooking at home. Reading books, listening to music, playing games. Friday night kitchen dance parties. All these things make me very happy.

5.   If you have the right gear, the world is very much alive.

It’s easy to sit in the dimly lit house and look out at the wet, grey, day and think how dull and lifeless it all looks. But lo and behold—-parkas! Gore-tex! Silk or wool underclothing! Layers! Bogs! Duck boots! Hats and mittens of course! All amazing items of clothing that allow you to get outside in our (very mild—-I’m sorry, but it’s true) Winter. And once you get outside, you see it—there is so much life! So many changes going on in the forest, at the beaches, on the trails, in the ponds. Your partially hibernated body (and maybe your dog as well) thanks you for allowing it into the fresh air and to experience actual movement. Then you get to come back in to your warm house alive, red-cheeked and refreshed, and life seems pretty wonderful.

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6.   Winter is a great time to connect with friends.

Potlucks. A cup of coffee/tea, a beer at the brewery. Game night with friends. As I said, it’s an inward time, and there isn’t a ton open in town, so our homes are where are hearts live, and where better to hang out with people we care about? Though we are very lucky on Orcas to have some of the best restaurants around, some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was prepared in the kitchens of friends on this island. Summer pulls us in so many directions. It’s fun fun fun all the time time time, so the slow time of Winter is a great time to reconnect, check in with our people. I’m always glad I did. Even though I live on an island, I sometimes go for months without seeing some of my favorites.

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Don’t get me wrong; when Spring comes, I will be singing its praises. But I’ve very much come to appreciate Winter, and can most certainly see that my outlook on it has really developed over time. It’s also made me see how much I love that life on Orcas Island, while it might not always be “convenient” in the modern sense of the word, in many ways honors the seasons, and I appreciate that for myself, and for my family. We adapt and adjust, and for that I am grateful.

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A Dog’s Life on Orcas Island – Part 2

Sandi Friel and Picardy Shepherd Puppy, QuinnPosted by Sandi Friel

Named one of Sunset Magazine’s Top 10 Dog Friendly Escapes, Orcas Island is truly a pup’s paradise for those lucky enough to live here. My previous post focused on the multitude of outdoor adventures available to dogs. Now let’s look at some of the community resources supporting our four-legged friends.

Pawki's for pets

Who needs Petsmart when you have homegrown Pawki’s

Pawki’s for Pets   
The first retail shop you see when you come into Eastsound isn’t an art gallery or clothing boutique…it’s Pawki’s! Here’s you’ll find a full line of healthy natural pet foods and treats, a huge variety of toys big and small, grooming items and all sorts of accessories.

Eastsound dog park

Misty morning at the dog park

Orcas Off Leash Area (OOLA)
With the help of many donors including local contractors and architects, OOLA volunteers created a much-needed Dog Park near the Eastsound airport on land loaned by the Port of Orcas. They’re now working with county officials to secure a permanent location nearby for an even bigger and better dog park. See the concept sketches here. Very exciting!

Pet Parade
A fundraising event for the past 25 years, animals of all types march in the annual Pet Parade and compete for a chance to win quirky awards – including Best Smile (sponsored by a dentist), Best Built (sponsored by the builder’s association) and Best Fed (sponsored by the grocery store). The event supports Kaleidoscope, a provider of childcare and preschool.

2014 mayor of Eastsound

“Jack” 2014 Mayor of Eastsound

Honorary Mayor of Eastsound
Maybe you don’t have political aspirations but perhaps your dog does? Another creative annual fundraising event (this one for Children’s House, a childhood early-learning center), the Eastsound Mayoral Race frequently features canine candidates. It’s a chance to give your pooch some notoriety while raising money for a good cause. One year our mayor was a cow.

Kelly Puccio of All The Happy Dogs

Kelly Puccio of All The Happy Dogs, a dog-walking, sitting, adventuring and training service

Pet Care – Boarding – Grooming
In addition to a vet clinic practicing both eastern and western medicine, Orcas has a variety of options for boarding and grooming (see partial list here.) Be sure to check the menu of services offered by Eastsound Kennels and All The Happy Dogs.

Orcas Animal Protection Society
No pet-friendly list would be complete without mentioning the Orcas Animal Protection Society (OAPS). Run by a dedicated group of volunteers and supported by donations, the shelter helps re-home animals, find lost owners, provides spay-neuter assistance, education, and offers classes: puppy socialization, basic obedience and agility classes.

 

Sandi Friel - Orcas Island Real Estate brokerAre you thinking of moving to Orcas and want to know more about resources for your dog-friendly lifestyle? Contact me — I can help!

 

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