LOCAL WALKS: Whidbey Island Wandering

It was a day of serendipity. I had an appointment on Whidbey Island, our neighbor to the south, and decided to wend my way further south instead of heading right back home. The small, historic town of Coupeville beckoned. I’m sorry I don’t have photos of Coupeville’s charming Victorian architecture or its old wharf and quiet waterfront, but I was beelining to Little Red Hen for espresso and treats. Their too-small-for-COVID-times indoor seating space is closed so people lounged around outside as they waited for their orders, trying to maintain distance on the narrow sidewalk. I ordered an egg sandwich with goat cheese and crunchy fried kale served on their own English muffin. But wait, there’s more! I didn’t pass up the crisp, warm double-filled dark chocolate croissants, nor did I forget to buy a ginger-molasses cookie. You have to stock up when you’re in the presence of a baker who knows what they’re doing.

I found a spot with a nice view and wolfed down the sandwich, sipping a rich, intense macchiato between bites. Yummy. Then, on the way out of town I noticed a place called Ciao Food and Wine. I’d passed it before but never checked it out. It was time to investigate. Inside, a chef was frying garlic in olive oil only steps away from shiny displays of high-end Italian deli treats, the like of which I hadn’t seen in several years. I spent my formative years in New York, where Italian food reigns, and foods like like ricotta salata and sfogliatelle are comfort food to me. I miss that now and realize that I took good Italian food for granted, so I couldn’t stop smiling as I chatted with the salesperson, chose a wedge of cheese and a pretty pastry, and tucked a menu in the bag, in hopes of tempting a certain someone into coming back with me for lunch.

Treats in hand, I thought I was heading home but serendipity intervened again. The sky darkened with dramatic clouds to the west so I swerved off the highway in that direction to find a better view. The road led to Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, a generous parcel of land along Whidbey’s Island’s western shore that features gorgeous views with a side of local history. Colonel Isaac Neff Ebey was an early settler on the island – or should I say, an early white settler. He brought his family over from Missouri and began making a life amidst conflict and hardship. Before he turned 40, Ebey was killed by members of a northern tribe (most likely Tlingit) in retribution for the death of one of their chiefs during a battle between a large tribal party that came down from their territory to effect a slave raid. Traditionally, a number of northern tribes took slaves from other tribes to establish wealth and rank but now, with whites in the picture, the scenario didn’t go as planned. Many people, including a chief, were killed by U.S. Navy sailors in what is known to whites as the 1856 Battle of Port Gamble. A small number of Tlingit men who were captured were eventually returned to their homeland, and again following tradition, they planned the revenge raid that ended in Ebey’s death. (He was actually not the target but ended up being a convenient mark for the tribe, as he was home that day and the doctor they planned to kill was not).

A few years later Ebey’s brother and cousin constructed a public house so his two sons would have a means of support. The handsome structure still stands, overlooking the broad fields that swoop down to a shoreline that once bustled with ferry traffic. The absorbing history of the Ebey family includes stories about Colonel Ebey’s role in the Oregon Territorial government, the death of his first wife from tuberculosis, and rumors about Ebey’s scalp, which was held by the tribe for a time, then sold to a fur trader and returned to the Ebey family. After that, the exact location of that sad remnant of a tragedy is murky; the trail runs cold in California.

Engrossing history aside, that day I was just looking for fresh air and stirring views.

In fact, the air was so fresh it was bracing. I found a trail passing the austere, slate gray house and tracing the edge of still-tended fields out to a bluff overlooking Admiralty Inlet, where the Olympic Mountains pile on top of one other across the cold, choppy water. I quickly regretted not putting my hoodie on – the chilly wind whipped my hair in my face and bit at my ears. Invigorated, I paused on the bluff with my back to the gale and watched clouds ride the wind and switch places across a vast, shifting, gray-blue panorama. The beach below was strewn with driftwood logs and an occasional walker could be seen braving the wind. A few wildflowers waved their heads frantically and ravens tore across the sky, slicing it every which way. Then a family approached, triggering my retreat.

Going back was shorter, as it always is, so instead of scurrying to the car I stopped to peer into the gloom of Ferry House. I couldn’t see much inside – the light was against it – but what I saw in the windows made up for the murky interior. The dramatic, cloud-darkened sky swirled around in the glass. A window on the far side of the house appeared like a beacon and my own reflection, broken up by repeating rectangles, disappeared into an abyss of light.

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69 comments

  1. Wonderful story Lynn! Really, really love your window shots … a favorite subject of mine too. I like the less representational, dreamy nature of your captures. #9 … the fence (another favorite subject) caught my attention too! I appreciate the birds and like the low horizon and subtle mountain silhouette in #20. Nice work and a place to go back to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to hear that the less representational images appeal to you. I wasn’t sure about that horizon way at the bottom of #20 but decided to leave it in. Thank you for stopping by, Denise, and have a great weekend.

      Like

  2. Sounds like an amazing excursion! The meal and pastries sound incredible (it was making me hungry just reading about them!). I really love the pictures, in particular 9 and 10, and also the reflections in the windows. Thanks for taking me along on this trip โค

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A well-told tale, with nature, history, and best & most important of all, Food! Yea!
    Milwaukee has some excellent delis & BBQ, but man it’s very light on Italian food in my part of town.
    Your shots with the mts and clouds are stunners, but 18 & 19 are really fascinating, all these different planes, different places all at once, very cool to see trees through a window set in a reflected treeline. #7 is my favorite, those distant people walking off into a great dreamscape, those misty Chinese mountains.
    But enough of this art talk. I need a bag of bombolonis!!! Just a couple of cannoli!! I’m lost in the Bratwurst & Cheese Curd wilderness. ๐Ÿ˜ข

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, food was what got me going, then once that was satisfied the fresh air did. Too bad that good Italian food isn’t easy to find where you are, either. What you said about the various layers in some of these images is what excited me. Often, the window you’re standing in front of, with the cool reflection, might give you a view to another window on the opposite side of the building so I took advantage of those site lines. Walking off into a great dreamscape is pretty much what it feels like there. And hey, you could be lost in wurst places! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks Robert, good to hear from you.

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  4. Great! Great! Great!
    And so much yours!
    It starts with the fact that in the face of threatening storm clouds you don’t rush to the protective home like normal people, no: Lynn goes closer, where she has a better view.
    And then this tragic story about the Ebey family, which you tell in an exciting and slightly ironic way.
    I had to laugh a lot at the pastry orgy, I recognize myself so clearly in it. Also in your enthusiasm for Italian food. You must have gained a lot of weight that day, based on everything you report having eaten.
    Then come the photos – wow! How skillfully you play with the sharpness and blurring, I am particularly amazed by the door in No. 5. The reflections are also great, and the window photos are your photographic answer to the paintings by Magritte.
    Your nature photos clearly show the pulling wind, even the moss on the fence post seems to be fluttering.
    And you did it again! Am I right that there is a nice blue-yellow tint in numbers 14 and 15 (also in number 11?)? And admit it: the fantastic Blue Mountains in number 7 are not only thanks to the aerial perspective and the telephoto lens, you reinforced them a tiny bit, right?
    A great post that I’m absolutely thrilled about, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course I wanted to get closer!
      The Ebey family lived through an unthinkable tragedy but I’m always aware that there are many stories on the other side that are not told. The people who were there before were practically exterminated. Their culture barely survives. This paper, which I just found online, appears to give an in-depth look at the tribe that used to live in this area – but it’s long!

      Click to access J9W88040021_Final_Report.pdf


      Treats! We love them! I do have a little willpower and I enjoy saving things for the next day, so it takes several days to get through that pile of goodies. The weight gain occurs over an extended period of time. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      #5 is my favorite of the bunch. Putting me in the same sentence as Magritte is a high honor. I recognize the warm tint in the sky in those images and once again I can’t say for sure why that is. The sun was getting lower and it was afternoon but it wasn’t very late. And yes, in #7 I added an effect in ColorEfex, one that increases the contrast overall in a very particular way.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this. What was gratifying about that day was that I had no expectations at all, and then I was given this gift of dramatic circumstances that I was able to meet. Does that make sense? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  5. I live reading your adventures and history and this one really drew me in. Especially the native tribe story. Great photos….as usual seeing through your eyes is always a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was hoping the story might be interesting – it goes on and one but you know, there’s only so much time we have, both writers and readers. I recommend researching the tribe that used to live in the Bandon area since it’s a place you’re getting to be very familiar with. I bet you’ll find some eye-opening stories if you dig a little and thinking about the people who were there before Europeans arrived might lend a new dimension to one’s experience – at least I think it so. Thank you very much, Howard!

      Like

  6. You’ve issued an implicit invitation for the Semantics Police to come visit you. They’d ask what you mean by “double-filled” in “double-filled dark chocolate croissants.” Does that mean that after one of those croissants gets filled, the filling is removed and then put back? Or does it mean that once the filling gets put in to the point that the croissant is filled, an equal amount more gets put in, which would burst through the croissant and ooze out all over the place?

    Speaking of double, I take it #5, 18, 19, and 21 are double (or more than that) exposures. What you’ve done certainly creates a mood of mystery. What the window panes do to the clouds in #2 is intriguing.

    You mentioned Ciao Food and Wine. Did you know that ciao is a dialectal form of the Italian word for ‘slave’? As a word of farewell, Italians took to using it in a way similar to the one in which formal English writers of the 18th century would end a letter with a formulaic closing like “I remain your humble servant.” As for sfogliatelle, if you drop the diminutive ending, what remains is etymologically equivalent to English exfoliate.

    What a sign of the times: “Then a family approached, triggering my retreat.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Uh-oh, the Semantics Police!?!? I’m in deep dodo now. Double-filled seemed the easiest, most mouth-watering way to tell you that they put two rows of chocolate filling in the croissant, side by side. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m not sure your versions would fly…but I’d be willing to stick around and try them.
      No double exposures here, all straight shots. The complexity had to do with the number of windows that were in the shot, my angle of view, the light, etc. Sometimes there was a window on the opposite side of the house that I could see out of, while the window I stood in front of reflected scenery behind me. It was so much fun!! I agree that the panes in #2 are doing odd things – from what I read this is not old glass, at least I don’t think so. The building has had lots of work done to keep it from falling apart. They didn’t seem to be classicly old wavy glass but some of them look that way.
      That is amazing about ciao – I bet the owners don’t know that. And there’s surely a reason for the little exfoliation…not sure what it is though. BTW do you know that pastry? So good when it’s done well! Creamy, almost pudding-like filling and flaky pastry. I have to go back. There was a place on Staten Island, which has a large Italian population, that made the best rice balls…
      And finally, yes, a sign of the times. We used to have more casual conversations than we do these days. More causal lots of things. I think this is going to have some lasting effects…already has I guess.
      Thank you, Steve, it’s been a pleasure. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  7. I read your post and the comments made so far, and I am amazed how people have responded to your love of nature and the great and small things that are in it. The photos are excellent. Looking at them, I think you are living amid beauty all around you and wherever you go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a nourishing dialogue, Hien, isn’t it? That’s one of the things that I like about blogs.
      The beauty is there, it’s here, it’s everywhere. I’m sure you see it, too. Thank you and have a wonderful weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You want to make us hungry, right? Where can I get delicious food now at this time of the day? You really triggered my appetite!!! After this I will visit my refrigerator ๐Ÿ˜‰ Fantastic photos Lynn, amazing! Again something of your seeing through topic. I don’t know which one I like most. They are all so great, but I think #1, #5, #19 are my favorites. The one with the door is brilliant and a wonderful picture, heartopening (can I say so?). All of these photos tickle my brain, they are a fantastic mixture of real and unreal, a bit dreamlike, mysterious. Your first one is just ingenious in every aspect! – And then there are your beautiful pictures of the landscape. #6, 7, 9, 10. I love the shadows from #7, all these shades and the lively clouds. Of course I love the old wooden stakes in every form here. They give a nice rhythm to the landscape, adding character. By the way: the plant in #16, is it a kind of sorrel? Great post Lynn, including history and food (I miss photos of the bakery here ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I did that just to torture you! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I see it worked. But it’s too late now. You’ll have to go to bed hungry. Tomorrow you should be surrounded by possibilities though, right?
      Seeing through, yes, that’s here again. I didn’t even mention it but you noticed and I really appreciate that. Your favorites are the same as mine. I took lots of self-portraits like #1 – there are more versions. So much fun. I love that you find the door photo “heartopening” – that’s beautiful. I thought it had the strongest emotional impact. The second-to-last sentence in my reply to Ule is how I felt that day, then seeing how the door and self-portrait photos turned out was the icing on the cake. In processing #7 I used an effect from ColorEfex that increases contrast in a particular way.
      #16 is Rumex crispus, I think, native to Europe – good spot! It looks good this time of year, right? Especially when you see it in a field of golden grass.
      The next time I see a good bakery display I will try to remember to get a photo for you. I’m glad you enjoyed this! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t wait until next morning. After this I went straitforward to my kitchen and had a late-night-snack. Thanks to you, haha! – That is great, that you didn’t expect anything and then so much happened to you, that the “doors opened” and you found so much inspiration. Letting go is the best one can do, but we often forget about it, right? – I didn’t notice you worked on #7. You did a very good job there. I like it a lot! – It is funny, I took a picture lately of Rumex too. Just what you wrote, it is a good eye-catcher right now. I love watching the seeds now, that have interesting structures or shapes or colors. Have a nice sunday!

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    • That little bakery-restaurant is excellent, and I wish you could come on down and meet me there. One day! And yes, the blame can spread around. The other side of the story needs a better airing. But of course, it’s incredibly hard to even find it. We are not as good as you are in Canada about honoring the First Nations. Not that Canada doesn’t have a long way to go, too.
      That was a flock of Cackling geese – do you know them? They’re arriving now for the winter. They’re like a smaller Canada goose with a shorter neck and a higher-pitched call. Without hearing them I wouldn’t have known what they were because we have Canada geese and Snow geese, too . It was wonderful watching them circle round and round before coming back down into the fields.
      Here’s a fact I learned after posting this – as much as 85% of the land within this national reserve is actually privately owned. The current landowners work in partnership with the government to preserve the rich agricultural land and keep it open, as it has been for centuries. The tribes used to keep it open, too, for different crops. Interesting, right? Thanks, Penny.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d never even heard of the Cackling Goose! You sent me flying to the Audubon site, which told me a great deal about both, including the fact that Cackling only got its own separate designation in 2004. Bravo you, for knowing the difference. And bravo those private landowners, working in partnership with the gov’t as stewards of that national reserve.

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  9. That going instead of running away or that exploratory spirit reveals a lot of your adventurous personality. And this is very good to keep all life.
    I really like these images with reflections, penetrating worlds and several planes focused on just one. Really good!
    As all the other beautiful details …. also gastronomic!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess that’s true, the exploratory spirit very life-affirming. That’s a good way to think about it. I’m glad you like the reflection images – reflections have fascinated me for a long time. It was really fun photographing them that day. Thank you so much, Dulce, and have a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Stunning photos Lynn. You really captured the beauty of the place, and the weather. I’ve been to Whidbey countless times and never stopped at Ebey’s Landing – we always have friends to visit. One of these days we’ll make the detour. Hopefully in better weather.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand that after that rather long drive, getting together with friends would take precedence over visiting local sights. Maybe next time you can all take a walk there – there’s a really nice beach walk. I’m glad you liked the photos, Alison.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. “warm double-filled dark chocolate croissants, nor did I forget to buy a ginger-molasses cookie”… oh, stop that! please. ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿช๐Ÿช๐Ÿช

    Love those shots with a deep contemplative quality, especially #4 and #5.

    โœจโ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ•‰๏ธโ™พ๏ธโ˜ฎ๏ธ๐Ÿ™โ˜€๏ธโœจ

    Liked by 1 person

  12. LOL! >>> love the food orders, and the knuckles selfie!!! – I was quite intimidated there for a moment!
    My favourite is 6, loads of atmosphere; and are the birds in 20 geese? And very interesting to hear about the slavery too – that was another world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The atmosphere in #6 could almost be a place near you, no? Let me thank you once again for inspiring me to go dark sometimes. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes, geese. We have a few kinds that overwinter in the area; these are Cackling geese, Branta hutchinsii in the same genus as Brants, which you probably have seen. Thanks, Adrian, I’m glad you enjoyed the read as well as the photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a great post, Miss Blue! As always the photos are wonderful works of art and the history lesson begs for more. I had to laugh at the thought of answering the door and being handed the scalp of the Colonel. I wonder what they did with it, maybe nail it over the door for good luck.
    Please excuse my โ€˜sense of humorโ€™. These days I need all the cheering up I can get and your posts are real medicine for my depression. Thank you for wending your way to Whidbey and taking us along.
    Stay Safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No problem with the humor – we were having fun with imagining various scenarios too, none of which I would commit to “paper.” I’m so pleased that this provided a brief respite. It IS so depressing these days. Sometimes I think that in a way, it’s harder for people who have lived longer and who have seen so much. Does that make sense?

      Like

  14. Reflections on Whidbey Island. Very moody. I especially like #15, the unusual cloud formations are a gift from nature. It almost looks like stacked lenticular clouds, within the most natural of frames.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Lynn, Loved your storytelling and the history of the Ebey family. Your photos are marvelous. The reflection images made me stop and ponder. Your landscape compositions are beautiful with their angles and leading lines, #7 especially. And your birds and clouds image is stunning. Excellent series. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jane, it was a good day all around. The birds are Cackling geese, like a smaller Canada goose with a higher-pitched call. The winter birds are starting to arrive. I saw grebes, some winter ducks, and a loon today/ ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Sfogliatelle! You brought back a delicious memory. Long ago, probably in the 1970s, I bought one of them from a bakery somewhere, I think, near NYU. It was incredible. A million thin layers of dough. It takes a lot of talent to make pastries like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, that’s it! I learned about them around the same time, in the same area, and ate them as long as I lived in New York, which was on and off for decades. It’s interesting that you remember it so well after all that time. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  17. An enjoyable pairing of narrative and photos.
    I sometimes think that everyone should be encouraged to carry with them, at all times. a small frame to enable them to isolate significant
    features of the scene. Your selection provides excellent examples of careful cropping to focus on such features

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    • Dear Lynn, I enjoyed your pictures as always and the writing even more. Louis made a good point: “I sometimes think that everyone should be encouraged to carry with them, at all times. a small frame to enable them to isolate significant features of the scene.” I absolutely do agree with it! Regards – Karl

      Like

      • Karl, it’s always good to hear from you. You frame your photos so carefully – I would be happy to do half as well. And how pleased I am to read that you enjoyed the writing! Cool. Thanks and take care. Joe says Hi!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Louis. Digital photography and the fast pace of life these days both mitigate against taking time to frame and compose photos. I’m guilty myself and often I notice myself moving along too quickly. Your suggestion is a good one!

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  18. These are wonderful, Lynn. #2 – the sky reflected in those windows is beautiful. #7- the distant mountains and the sky {and the two walkers perfectly silhouetted against the water beyond}. I’ll be back to look at these some more … ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mic, and it’s always interesting to know which images strike you. The sky was exciting that day and the reflections in those windows were so much fun to photograph. #7 is a little stylized – I began with an effect, if I remember right, from Colorefex. Then I always make more adjustments. I hope all’s well with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. 1- a very fun selfie. & 2- the perfect reflections – each pane tells a different story
    6&7 the magnificent clouds, the sky and the mountains. What more could you ask for?
    11-15 I’m always a sucker for images with water and they’re all so atmospheric. Can’t pick a favorite.
    20- birds in flight. I imagine it’s what many of us wish for… that ability to fly away.

    “More causal lots of things. I think this is going to have some lasting effectsโ€ฆalready has I guess.”
    Each trip into town seems to be ever more fraught. So much easier to hunker down at home. Luckily we seem to make it at least a couple of weeks without going beyond Port Orford.

    Thanks for taking me along on this adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What more could you ask for, indeed, except that I could have had the presence of mind to bring a hat and a warmer jacket. But the scene was so exciting that I was able to ignore the cold. This place is about 15 minutes south of Deception Pass and has a whole different atmosphere because of the rolling, open fields (instead of conifer forest).
      I’m sorry to hear your trips to Port Orford feel so uncomfortable. I think for us, it’s gotten easier over time and we’ve found the level of comfort we’re OK with – but still, it’s a huge change compared to a year ago, when this would have been science fiction. It’s a good thing that “home” is treating you well!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. First, thank you again for publishing your posts in one entire link, which I am able to read off line via the email notification. This post, like many via my email option, was only text with white spaces -for someone like me to imagine the images. I looked forward to seeing the reflections and suspected this would be a winner.

    Second. Now in the restaurant, which was empty when I arrived and now crowded (boo!), I scrolled down the text until image number one. A very-strange wave of energy washed through me, and it’s hard to articulate what happened. It’s like witnessing a profound moment and being thankful to be witnessing it. Or watching a beginning art student take the brush and execute an amazing wash – all uninhibited and as natural as breathing. It’s such a joy to see the world through your eyes, and in this image – there is so much there – but not. (regarding the face of the artist/photographer.) It’s a powerful image.

    Third. Brrrrrrrrrrr! I admire you for weathering the cold, which is something I don’t do well!

    Fourth: Your food descriptions made me hungry!!!

    Thank you again for giving us strong and calming imagery balanced with a sensitive narrative. I look forward to getting home and spending time with each image!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad this format works for you, and what pleasure it is to read about your reaction to that self-portrait. It was fun – the wind was whipping my hair all around, the clouds were darkening, and the reflections kept getting more and more interesting. So much here, but not. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you for your critique, your reactions, and your time, amiga. I hope you find even more to like later…and stay safe!

      Like


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