Author: Kate Poss | With Photos by David Welton

Kate Poss This Is Whidbey was founded by Kate Poss for readers who are interested in cultivating our island’s quality of life, including its land, sea, and air; its people, plants, and animals; and the bodies, minds, and spirits of its inhabitants. You may know Kate from her work in island libraries through May of 2016. Her background includes a career in newspaper reporting in Los Angeles for various weeklies and dailies, including The Los Angeles Times. She was a frequent contributor to the online Whidbey Life Magazine and still writes for the biannual print magazine. David Welton Stories are highlighted by David Welton’s excellent photography. David is a retired physician who was a staff photographer for Whidbey Life Magazine since its early days. His work has also appeared in museums, art galleries, newspapers, regional and national magazines, books, nonprofit publicity, and on the back of the Whidbey Sea-Tac Shuttle!

Note–David Welton wrote and photographed this story. He has a lifelong interest in and majored in biology. Working in the Moore Laboratory of Zoology at Occidental College, he received National Science Foundation grants in 1968 and 1969 to study birds in the Sierras and Central America with professors Martin L Morton and John William Hardy. His senior year research project, “Postnuptial Molt and its Relation to Reproductive Cycle in Mountain White Crown Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha)” was published in “Condor,” the Journal of the American Ornithogical Association in 1973. He briefly considered a career as a field biologist or park…

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Before coronavirus came and stayed longer than we wanted, we routinely gave our used things to Good Cheer, Senior Thrift, and WAIF. We shopped at their stores, recycling one another’s goods, and helping the non-profits earn a steady income. However when coronavirus restrictions became effective in March, our local thrift stores stopped taking donations for a while. When they did re-open this summer, Good Cheer and Senior Thrift accepted donations just one day a week. While WAIF accepts donations six days a week, it closes when its capacity is filled. Our South Island thrift stores maintain social distancing requirements and…

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The show must go on is the mantra of dedicated families in the dance community and their commitment to producing the 28th annual Nutcracker Ballet this winter, a first-time virtual experience, though, due to the COVID pandemic. Last weekend a pair of positive, can-do women hosted a successful garage sale at the Bus Barn parking lot to benefit production of this year’s virtual Nutcracker Ballet. I was taken by the friendliness, enthusiasm, and aprons of Jennifer Thrasher and Kristin Hummel, board members of Whidbey Island Dance Theatre (WIDT), a non-profit, which produces the Nutcracker each year. Both women have daughters…

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I met Urashan two summers ago through South Whidbey at Home. I volunteer with the non-profit, which advocates aging in place, and was founded by Lynn Willeford. When I met Urashan at her home, Maris Stella, meaning Star of the Sea, she was sitting in the afternoon sun, looking out on the sparkling water. She was familiar in a deep way, though we had never met before. At 91 in 2018, her mind and spirit strong, her hearing and eyesight dimming, her body relying on a walker to get around at home, Urashan asked South Whidbey at Home to send…

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Note: Update!!! The South Whidbey Record’s David Felice wrote about our swan pair, using David’s photos. CBC Radio Vancouver picked up the story and interviewed David last week! CBC Radio Station Manager Paul Malcolm, said we can listen to the interview at this link. Bravo! David! Please note. The swans are on private property. Earlier this month, David Welton took a drive and discovered that the lone Trumpeter Swan has company! He emailed the Trumpeter Swan Society, writing: “Hi! This swan now has a potential mate! She showed up just before Christmas. The wetlands are frozen up now, hopefully they…

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You may have noticed the once shabby walls of the South Whidbey School District bus barn have taken on a new look. The old building, whose one good face shows a terrific mural celebrating Langley’s usual Django Fest—cancelled this year due to the COVID pandemic — had fading, peeling paint beige walls needing attention on the remaining three sides. Langley Creates proposed to give the old building a facelift, contacted Boy Scout Troop 57, and asked for some help in getting it painted. The building sits in the parking lot at Cascade Avenue and Sixth Street near the Whidbey Island…

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Affordable housing is not easy to come by these days on Whidbey Island. Our elders, young people, young families, folks who have lost their jobs, artists, minimum wage earners, and others deserve a safe place to live that is within their means to pay. In the face of this growing need, which has expanded in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a band of can-do organizers have created a plan to build ten tiny homes which can serve as a model for other communities. “We are Christ’s hands and feet prepared to act on behalf of those in need.…

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With a far-away and poignant look in his eyes, Peter Lawlor, who turns 99 November 26, reached into his memory for a song, Now is the Hour. Fingers pressing mother-of-pearl buttons on his melodeon, the feeling of longing in the melody and Peter’s expression tattooed the moment in my heart. I wondered, is this the last time that I will see Peter? “It’s a song they sing on the dock when someone was sailing away from their families,” said Peter’s daughter Gretchen Lawlor, who sat with her New Zealand-born papa on an overcast Saturday morning at Mukilteo Coffee’s Cafe in…

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Since introducing the story Langley Creates in the June 12 edition of This is Whidbey, the district has helped to recreate the Langley Farmer’s Market and continues to collaborate and create a vibrant and connected community. Langley Creates, one of four statewide districts to receive the Creative District designation, is designed to “…help Washington communities thrive. This award-winning program works to grow the creative sector. It helps communities turn cultural activities into economic growth.” And, it is working. Traffic flows past the vendors on Second Street and there is a safe community feeling that has been absent since the coronavirus…

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A sunken ship. A box of bones that goes missing. Oral history shared by island Native Americans about a ship with a broken mast. Murder of a crew. Tall tales? John Williamson lives in the Maxwelton Valley and believes there is truth about a sunken ship in the marshes, dating back to the 1850’s. His wife Rebecca’s grandfather, Herbert Fish, was a history professor at Central Washington University in Ellensburg (aka CWU), who learned of the myth of the sunken ship through conversation with a South Island Indian chief named William Shelton. I talked with John last week and he…

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