Monday, August 4, 2014

25 and Alive!

I woke with that special, stirring feeling that only comes once a year.  Already, the excitement for the day ahead began brewing, and my energy summoned itself at once.  My birthday.  Not any birthday, my 25th birthday.

I see this as an opportunity to take pause.  25 feels like a collection; a placemark.  I'm a quarter century old, and yesterday felt like a beautiful day of time-between-time.  We escaped to Whidbey Island.  As we boarded the ferry that would take us there, my worldly thoughts dissipated and made way for calm.  Sure, I was buzzing with excitement, too, but I was also forgiving myself of thinking of anything that I could have been thinking of.

The ferry ride was over nearly as soon as it had started.  It's a very short distance between the mainland and Whidbey, but driving off the ferry, we found ourselves in a totally new world.  Everything seemed slower, simpler.  The lettering on the sign of "Whidbey Middle School" was hand painted.  Signs for the fair adorned the roadsides, and the smell of salty air lingered everywhere.  Also, for being in such a mountainous area, Whidbey was notably flatter.  Soft rolling hills and wide open farmlands reminded me a little of home, and further determined my love for wide open spaces.

Our first stop was the Whidbey Fair.  Mike paid our admission as I fiddled with the camera, equipped for the day.  Inside, the smell of fresh funnel cake, french fries, corn on the cob, and all the other delicacies of the fair set the mood just right.  We ambled through the animal stalls, admiring big beautiful horses and teeny, bouncing goats.  There was even a cat stall.

On the far end, a woody smell drew us closer as we discovered a series of events all themed by wood, somehow.  First, the pole climbers.  I've never seen anything like it.  Two guys climbing a ridiculously high telephone-style pole with sharp-edged shoes and a rope.  No harness, no net, only a 4-foot-high pile of woodshavings below to cushion any tragic falls.  Then, a man to the right was carving an eagle with a chainsaw at an alarming pace.  His work was detailed and beautiful though his tool was clunky and large.  In the center, a square pool held the log rolling.  I've seen it in movies and never believed it to be real, but here it was.  I was stunned at the talent of these kids.  Closest to where we sat, two men got in position for a log-chopping contest.  They each straddled a small log, armed with an axe, and waited for the call.  Then, they both started chopping with a fever, eventually breaking through their pieces.  It was a true small-town fair, and it was so cool to be part of.

Our next stop was downtown Langley.  After a glass of wine at a bistro, Mike and I ducked into some of the shops.  Soap stores, art galleries, candle-makers, Middle-Eastern importers, and other shops all lined up on the water's edge.  But we were hungry, so we did a quick search and drove out to what seemed like the middle of farm country, where we reached Gordon's on Blueberry Hill.  It looked like a house converted into a chic little restaurant, with windows that gave away the whole view of the surrounding area, including a beautiful peek of the water.  I had chicken with cheesy grits and a waffle.  It was DELICIOUS.

view from Gordon's
After a quick stop in Meerkerk Gardens to peek at the famed rhododendrons (which were, in fact, gorgeous), we made our way to Ebey's Landing.  On the way we, small two-lane country roads, blasting classics like "Jack and Diane" and "Let's Hear it for the Boy."  Overcome with the beauty around me and the great music, I did something I've never done, but have always wanted to.  I popped out of the sunroof, held out my arms, and took in the whipping wind, the salty air, and the warm sun.  "25 and aliiiiiive!" I shouted, as Mike turned up the music.

The flowers at Meerkerk

The landing was beautiful.  A big, grassy bluff led down to a small, pebbly beach, offering a great view of ships, ferries and cruiseliners in the distance.  A steep walk up the bluff offered a different perspective, high above the beach.  A narrow little path led us up and down the sandy trail, with frequent stops for birthday kisses and beautiful views.

After we came back down, we drove another short distance to a perfectly westward facing beach, where we had the whole thing to ourselves.  We talked and snapped photos as the sun went down.  Watching the last sliver of it pass over the distant mountains punctuated the day.  It had been full, it had been fun, and I was exhausted.

We drove back to the ferry, then back home, then straight into our tiny, cozy little apartment.  We had a pizza delivered and ate it in bed while watching a movie.  It felt like a sleepover party.  As I nodded off next to my husband, I checked through all my birthday wishes and felt loved.  What a great birthday.  

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