The Last Best Chronicles
Penn Cove and Coupeville
So. Do you smell a change in the air? Me too. Only two posts to this blog in the
last year… even I can sense that something’s up. Yup. Must be time
to put the ol’ Sagebrush Chronicles to bed, evidently there’s been ’nuff said.
What has happened here is easy enough to tell. Three years ago I met this
incredible woman and fell in love with her. Major change right there. But it goes
on… Betty Ann Johnson was from Seattle, and I began visiting her there from time to time. While she also spent a lot of time with me in Montana, it slowly became evident that the bulk of our winter months were far more easily spent in Seattle. Problem with that is, as cool as Seattle is, it’s still a big city, and I am totally over big cities at this point in my life. Hmmm… what to do??
Lucky for me, Betty (“B”) was about to sell her house in W. Seattle, anyway. She sold it in April and bought a cottage on Whidbey Island in May. I was in Seattle helping her move out of her old house and into her new one from April to July. Maybe one post in that time and, you guessed it… it was about Seattle.
Worse, the more time we spent on Whidbey between houses, the better it felt,
the more I liked it, and by the time we got B moved in, I was hooked. We both
realized that Spring and early Summer on Whidbey are absolutely gorgeous
and that we’d accidentally missed the Great Montana Mud Season, or, as we
used to call it, Spring. No, wait… that’s just the point, we didn’t miss it!
We found over time that our new life on the island suited us both to a T.
There is much to do, much to see, and the natural beauty of the place actually
rivals Montana. To our west is the Olympic Mountain range, easily seen from the
top of our hill. To the northeast, Mount Baker rises majestically, which we can also see from the end of our street, down on the cove. Sure, it’s softer, easier, and that’s exactly what we love about it.The weather is scary good, with sunny, cool summers and foggy, cloudy, rainy winters that rarely get below freezing.
And for me, that’s the thing… the weather. The Montana winters have gotten way too long for me. When I first got back to Montana in 2005, I was 62, and there was a kind of pride in being a “year-rounder.” Now I’m 71, and one of two things has happened… either I’ve lived the dream as a real Montanan and have nothing left to prove, or I’ve become a crotchety old fart who can’t take the heat (re: cold) anymore. Either way, gang, the writing’s on the proverbial wall… I’m pretty much done with Montana winters, barring a month or so of snowmobiling.
Of course we still love Montana. We spent the month of July there and had a blast – fishing, camping and 4-wheeling. Summers are as beautiful as ever there, and we even got a new roof on the cabin! We had to come back to the island by mid-August to prepare the new cottage for guests from Atlanta, and guess what? It didn’t hurt at all to leave Montana and come back here. Anyway, all that to say, if you don’t live there much anymore, how the hell can you write about it?
Have I become a turncoat, flatlander weenie? Perhaps. B just pointed out that one reason this move has been so effortless and comfortable is the similarities of the two little towns… Virginia City and Coupeville. Both are old towns with board walks who were built in the mid-nineteenth century. (Coupeville in 1852 and Virginia City in 1863) Both have been restored, have colorful histories and have become tourist destinations in the summertime. Coupeville is larger, population 1800. It sits at the south side of Penn Cove, world famous for its mussels. In V.C. my cabin overlooks the little town, mountains in the distance. In Coupeville, B’s cottage overlooks the cove, with Mount Baker in the distance. The transition, for us, has been effortless. How could it not, though, given that we’ve landed in a small town on a cove on an island inhabited by artists and retirees?
So. 59 posts later, it’s time to close the book on this chapter of a Montana boy’s life. Thank you to those of you who stuck with me through this process. I suspect you are all friends of mine anyway, who would hang in there, knowing it was more cathartic for me than it was entertaining for you. Naturally I hope that’s not the case, but one never knows. Perception is a curious, ever-changing phenomenon, much like life itself, right?