by Georgie Bright Kunkel
With the sound of gunfire echoing throughout Seattle of late it was a relief to be heading out of town for a day of pleasant exploration. Yes, to return to Whidbey Island after selling our family getaway there some years ago was a kind of reawakening. My special friend and I planned to visit Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens but first we drove through Freeland near Holmes Harbor and leisurely continued on the cross island highway with trees lining the path before us. Even though the rhododendrons in my West Seattle yard were in their last stages of bloom, here there were still dozens of tree sized rhodies, shaded by larger evergreens, that were spreading out in an array of color—red, pinks, violets, gold----and all as if no humans had ever disturbed them.
A wonderful green velvet lawn area was a pleasant lunch stop for us. As we ate our sandwiches, we viewed ancient stumps with berry bushes nurtured by rotting bark and bees feasting on the lush blooms of not only rhodies but buttercups and bluebells. The trail wound near enough to a brook so that we could hear the trickle of water over rocks and relax in the Garden of Meditation. No planes roared overhead. No automobile sounds were evident. Only the occasional crunch of rocks on the trail reminded us of the moment.
Further down the road was the winery at a farm originating in 1904. It has long been a favored stop for those wishing to rest on a bench beside a pond with ducks swimming about or taste the special pies made from local apples, loganberries or boysenberries. Believe it or not neither my friend nor I can drink fancy wines so we browsed in two little art galleries with surprises of color and shape created by single artists and not a factory turning out hundreds of identical copies.
After browsing in Coupeville amongst Dutch blue pottery and wonderful European chocolate delights I sorted through one-of-a-kind garments with price tags geared to provide sticker shock for a thrift shop buyer like me. Soon the softer side of Whidbey gave way to the sounds of training planes as the landscape changed to a place with more signs of commerce as we drove through Oak Harbor and on to Deception Pass. There we could look down from the narrow bridge into the narrows with water rushing with great force—a phenomenon that has presented danger to many a boat that dared to brave these rapids in years past.
Crossing another bridge reminded us that we had left Whidbey Island and we chose to take a back road to La Conner where the clouds ballooned above the flat farmland in all shades of muted blues and grays. I found a thrift shop in town where I bought a lavender-knit top. I wore it for the rest of the trip with just one more stop—this time at an outlet mall where I purchased the only thing besides a bathing suit that I buy retail—underpants. Believe it or not I already have two dozen but they have seen their day in the sun—well not really in the sun but they have had their day. When I told a friend about buying sixteen pairs of briefs she was astounded. Go figure. My housekeeper only does my washing every other week so I have to have enough clothes to last me through, right?
The backup on Interstate 5 approaching Seattle was daunting so we dodged over to 99 only to be bogged down on the viaduct if you can still call it that. What we had traveled to escape was again looming before us as we slowly wended our way back to what I call my little town of West Seattle. My only sense of discomfort was when I realized that I had worn the pre-owned knit top with the price tag flying out from the back of the neck all the way home. But I can still see in my mind’s eye the tree sized rhododendrons, the ducks swimming in the pond and the water roaring through Deception Pass—all visions to store in my memory bank.
Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer and public speaker who can be reached at
email@example.com or 206-935-8663.