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Going Green on Whidbey Island

Are you Waste Wise?

February 8th, 2016 at 2:50 pm by maribeth crandell
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Test yourself and then look for the answers in this article.

Where can you recycle glass on Whidbey Island?

Which of these things could be recycled for free; a printer, laptop or an E-reader?

Where could you recycle oil or safely dispose of hazardous waste for free?


If you’ve taken the Waste Wise training, no doubt you could answer all of these questions. Do you open packages carefully so you can reuse the wrapping paper?  Do you choose products that have reusable or recyclable containers?  Do you pick-up litter when you go for a walk?  If so, you’re a perfect candidate for the Waste Wise training coming up later this spring.

Broadview Recycles

The training is mostly online with a meeting once a week for 4 weeks and it’s free. Waste Wise graduates are asked to give back by volunteering for the program. You could help out in the office, lead school programs, assist at clean-up efforts like the Coupeville Clean-up or the Tire Recycling Day.  You could also help people reduce waste at big events like the Whidbey Island Marathon, the Whidbey Garden Workshop, or the Sound Waters Conference.

The 22nd annual Sound Waters Conference was last weekend.  Janet Hall, the Waste Wise Coordinator, works with conference planners each year to choose lunch containers and utensils that can be composted or recycled and not end up in the trash.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups. Waste Wise volunteers help set up recycle and composting stations.  They monitor these stations during lunch and breaks.  At the end of the day they measure what they’ve collected.  With 640 people attending this year they had just 8 pounds of garbage.  After big events like this, Janet takes the garbage and recycling to the Coupeville Solid Waste Complex, and the compostables to a commercial composting facility in Stanwood.  Whidbey Island doesn’t have commercial composting to protect our sole source aquifer.

Ana green-brown

If your take-out container says “compostable” on it, you can’t compost it on Whidbey unless you throw it in your own compost pile or worm bin.  If you take the training you’ll find out how to build a hot compost pile and make great mulch for your garden or flower beds.  Much of your food waste can be composted in a rodent proof worm bin and added to your garden as a soil supplement.

marina recycle

Waste Wise volunteers get a lot of questions like, “Why don’t you take glass?”  Glass is heavy and it breaks.  It makes recycling much easier if we separate the glass from other recyclables.  On Whidbey you can take glass to the Navy recycling center, Safeway, Office Max, the Oak Harbor Marina, or any of the County Recycle Parks at Bayview, Freeland, Coupeville, or on North Oak Harbor Road in Oak Harbor.

The hub for recycling on Whidbey is the Island County Solid Waste Complex just south of Coupeville.  It’s open daily from 9:30 to 5:00. The recycle center there takes paper, cardboard, plastic tubs and bottles, tin, aluminum, glass, clothes and they have a small thrift shop.

Hazardous waste items like the ones listed at the top of the article can be taken there, too.  And if you have a load of official noxious weeds like Canada thistle or Scot’s Broom, you can dump it at the same site for free.

Electronics, TVs, E-readers or computers, can be recycled for free at the County facilities in Oak Harbor, Coupeville or Freeland. If you have printers, fax machines or other electronics that you want to dispose of safely, take them to BaRC at the Coupeville Solid Waste Complex and they will take them for a small fee which benefits the local animal shelter.

If you reduce, reuse, recycle and compost, which is mostly free, you’ll save a lot on your garbage bills. Find out more by taking the Waste Wise Training.  For details call 360-678-7974 or visit:

Beach Clean-ups, Think Globally, Act Locally

January 27th, 2016 at 8:09 am by maribeth crandell
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Whidbey Island is 55 miles long and varies 1.5 to 12 miles wide.  The ins and outs of harbors and bays extend that shoreline.  All along those shores litter collects both from land and sea.  Styrofoam, plastics, nets and ropes.  Anyone who has taken a walk on the beach has seen it.  But there is one man who heads out there to collect this trash and get it off our beautiful beaches and away from our wonderful waters.  He’s my hero!

Stinger Anderson, runs the Community Beach Clean-up effort sponsored by the WSU Extension program.  He posts a calendar online and sends out email updates to invite volunteers to work with him.  The high tides of winter have brought in an abundance of beach litter. On a recent clean-up day at Keystone beach, volunteers Jennifer and Karen picked up 5 bags of litter and found 3 tires, 160 pounds of garbage!  On another Saturday morning Stinger had one volunteer.  In two hours they filled his county pick-up truck.

Beach Clean up

You may have heard about the Pacific Gyre, a raft of pelagic plastic and garbage floating in the north Pacific. It is also known as the Pacific Garbage Patch or the Pacific trash vortex. It is one of five major oceanic gyres. This one covers most of the northern Pacific Ocean, approximately 20 million square kilometers and is considered the largest ecosystem on earth.  Ocean currents steer the floating trash into a concentrated collection of plastic debris.


It’s estimated that 80% of the garbage comes from land-based sources and 20% from ships. One of the main sources is improper waste disposal including fishing nets and plastics of every shape, size and color. This type of garbage does not biodegrade so does not go “away”. Plastic degrades into smaller and smaller pieces down to tiny molecules small enough to be digested by aquatic organisms that live near the surface. As it enters the food chain, it leaches potentially toxic chemicals like PCBs, DDT and PAHs.  In some places the concentration of plastics is seven times higher than the concentration of zooplankton.


In recent years the Pacific Garbage Patch has received global attention.  Clean-up efforts were proposed include floating barges to collect and process the garbage. Documentaries have been made, art projects emerged, conferences held, a fleet of 30 ships spent over a month studying the Gyre. Now it’s our turn.

If you want to be part of the solution, if your New Year’s resolution included volunteering for the greater good, if you love the beaches of Whidbey Island, here’s your chance.  Contact Stinger Anderson and join his crew on the next beach clean-up of 2016.

Beach Cleanup

Bags, gloves and other equipment are provided.  Wear appropriate clothing for the weather and sturdy footwear for walking through sand, cobble and driftwood.  If you’re not known for your agility, talk to Stinger about how you can safely participate.  Let Stinger know a few days ahead so he can prepare and let you know if there are any schedule changes due to weather conditions.  A one day volunteer park access pass will be available for those who don’t have a Washington State Parks Discover Pass.  Only adults, 18 or over may participate.

Plastic bottles take many forms.

Plastic bottles take many forms.

And here’s a special secret… Stinger is very creative and has made some incredible artwork using plastic debris.  Ask him about it when you call to volunteer!


Office:  (360) 240-5558

Cell: (360) 941-3171

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree and What to do with it after the Holidays.

December 28th, 2015 at 3:31 pm by maribeth crandell
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The greenery and lights of the holidays are lovely with garlands on the railings, snowmen on Main Street, and lights all over the park. Decorations on the trees are my favorite. I love walking through the neighborhood in the evening passing all the glowing windows twinkling with lights. It’s such a special season.

But after you’ve had the feast and eaten all the leftovers, opened the presents and taken out the trash, family and friends have returned from where they came, what do you do with the tree?  It’s drying out and starting to drop needles. It’s losing its Christmas magic and becoming a fire hazard.

Turn your tree into mulch.

Turn your tree into mulch.

First, remove the decorations, the lights and the tinsel. If it’s not flocked here are your options.

Take it to any one of these Island County Recycle Parks for free disposal;

3151 N. Oak Harbor Road, Oak Harbor, open Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday 9:30-5:00

20018 Hwy 20, Coupeville (3 miles south of town), open daily 9:30-5:00

5790 S. Kramer Road, Langley (across the highway from the American Legion Hall and the Goose) open Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday 9:30-5:00.

Or take it to Mailliard’s Landing for free disposal at 3068 N. Oak Harbor Road, Oak Harbor, open Monday-Saturday, 8:00-4:00.

Or if you live in the City of Oak Harbor and get regular garbage pick-up you can get a prepaid yard waste bag and attach it to your tree for pick-up at the curb. This service is available Jan. 2-7 and Feb. 2-6 only. Bags are available for $3.50 from Safeway, the Market Place Grocery or City Hall. Call 360-279-4764 for more information.

In Oak Harbor use prepaid yard waste bags to tag your tree.

In Oak Harbor use prepaid yard waste bags to tag your tree.

Or, if you don’t live in Oak Harbor, and get curb side garbage pick-up, Island Disposal-Waste Connections will pick-up your tree IF it is cut into 3 foot lengths.  They will charge $3.77 for each 3 foot length. For details call 360-321-1331 or 360-678-5701.

Or, if you live in Coupeville, you can call Boy Scout Troop 4058. For a donation they will pick-up your tree between December 27 and January 3. Call 360-632-1750 or email to make arrangements.

One more idea is to start a backyard wildlife brush pile. Lots of small critters use brush piles for shelter.  A dead Christmas tree can provide the support with other branches from winter storms stacked on top. To find out more about building a brush pile and how that benefits wildlife Click here


Could we burn our Christmas tree?  If you cut it into small pieces first.

In Island County fires smaller than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high don’t require a written permit under the following conditions;

Burning is allowed during daylight hours

Water (a charged garden hose or 10 gallons in buckets) and a shovel or rake must be present.

Someone 16 or older, capable of putting the fire out, must be in attendance at all times.

Only one pile may be burned at a time unless otherwise permitted.

It must not be during an air stagnation period.

All fires must be contained within a firebreak (bare ground) which must enclose the pile.

The fire must be 50 feet from any structure, standing timber or power lines.

The landowner must give permission.


The lights of the holidays helped brighten up the darkest days of the year. Now that the dark days are behind us we’ll enjoy seeing the light return. Happy New Year!




This Little Light of Mine

December 14th, 2015 at 12:06 pm by maribeth crandell
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It’s December, the darkest time of year for us in the Northern Hemisphere.  On December 21, the shortest day of 2015, the sun will rise at 7:55am and set at 4:20pm, a total of 8 hours and 20 minutes of daylight.  In addition there’s a 60% chance of rain. How well are your windshield wipers working?

This time of year I head for work in the dark and come home in the dark. The first part of my commute is a walk along the road. I live in a rural area where there aren’t any streetlights. I carry a flashlight, not so much to see where I’m going, as to signal approaching traffic that there’s a pedestrian walking on the shoulder. People driving to work are sipping coffee, eating breakfast, brushing their hair or teeth, putting on make-up, listening to tunes, catching up on emails, texting and if  the windshield is frosty, sight may be limited. My dark coat makes me invisible to drivers, so I walk on the left shoulder, facing traffic, and use my flashlight to alert drivers to pass with caution.

Some Island Transit bus stops have a signpost with a flashing light on the top.  Mine isn’t one of those.  When I see the bus coming I flag it down with my flashlight. The driver thanks me. As my bus makes its way along picking up other commuters or school kids, many are wearing bright green or orange reflector vests. These vest are great year round. Wearing one could save their life.

Walking from the bus back home after work puts me at greater risk. Statistics show that most fatal accidents occur during the evening rush hour between 6:00 and 9:00pm. Thirty three percent of these collisions involve alcohol. That percentage keeps rising as the night wears on and more than doubles after midnight. It’s something to keep in mind whether you’re walking, jogging, biking, taking the dog out or driving at night.


The League of American Bicyclists ranked Washington State the most Bike Friendly State in America for eight years running. The State has allotted billions of dollars for improving infrastructure, education and encouragement, programs and policies, legislation and enforcement, evaluating and planning.  The Washington Department of Transportation requires a white front light visible for 500 feet and a red reflector and/or a red light on the back (RCW 46.61.780).  Currently there’s no requirement for a helmet but it’s also a very good idea. The Oak Harbor Fire Department has a free helmet program for kids.

A few years ago a cyclist in Oak Harbor was hit crossing an intersection in the dark though he had both the required front and back lights. A car hit the cyclist on the side. A reflector vest might have prevented this unfortunate accident.

Biking, jogging and walking provide good health benefits. However, biking, jogging or walking along the roadside without lights or reflective gear could be extremely harmful to your health.


I took a quick look online and found some great gifts for your favorite dog walker or roadside commuter. You can get a flashlight or headlamp for under $10.  You could buy bike lights or a reflective vest for less than $20. Put a vest on the dog, too. Santa has a red flashing light on his rig. Ho, Ho, Ho! And for car commuters, new windshield wiper blades make excellent stocking stuffers!  Have a happy and healthy New Year.

T’was the Night Before Christmas

December 7th, 2015 at 4:18 pm by maribeth crandell
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It used to start just after Thanksgiving, but in recent years it has crept up to Halloween. In fact, it seems as soon as one holiday is over, retailers put up reminders that the next is just around the corner.  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are nation-wide movements that urge us to “Get out there and shop!”. This is the harvest season for the retail market.


My parents were raised on farms during the Great Depression. They knew how to stretch a dollar, how to work hard and make do. I have a great extended family. We all get together over the holidays to cook for each other and swap presents.  A lot of our gifts are homemade. We take pride in showing off a new craft we learned and appreciate the time put into a gift.  Woodworkers make candle sticks and lamps out of the oak tree that fell in last year’s storm.  Quilters stitch up pillows or placemats.  My sister has a kiln. We love to make glass bowls and ornaments.  My brother in law made a CD for my dad, who is in his 80’s, of his favorite music from the 1940’s and 50’s.  I made CD’s for my nieces and nephews of me reading funny kid’s poems.

We also like to shop at craft fairs that introduce us to our local artists.  I especially like shopping at local book stores.  And we sometimes find treasures at the thrift shop.  Buying local supports our own communities and helps us connect with our neighbors.

Growing up, my mom taught us to carefully unwrap each present, fold the paper neatly and put it under the couch cushions. It presses all the wrinkles out and it’s handy when you need to wrap a present.  We’d wrap presents with the funny papers, or corrugated cardboard with the ridges showing, a little twine and perhaps a dried flower as a bow. I love getting gifts wrapped in maps.  I get distracted anticipating next year’s hikes or road trips. Wrapping small gifts in old calendars, using last year’s Christmas cards for tags or finding a cute gift bag that can be used and reused, are all ways to reduce waste and show your creativity and environmental awareness over the holidays.


It’s easy to get caught up in the rush to buy this year’s latest gadget or fashion statement, wrap it in flashy paper with a snappy bow, but I’m always aware of the overconsumption and the impact on the planet.  Americans generate 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  I’m sure you’ve noticed it at your house.  Multiply that by the 30 million Americans and you can imagine the mountains of garbage that results from our holiday glut.

We can give gifts of experience, a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, tickets to a show or sporting event or tuition for a class  You can even make your own. Give mom a car wash or a day of yard care once a month.  Give Jennie a tune up for her car or a load of firewood.  How about a pie a month or music lessons?  Gifts of experience are low impact on the environment but highly valued by the recipient.

This year let’s pause, smell the cider, appreciate the lights, hug Aunt Sue and Cousin Sam, have another piece of pie and enjoy the season, not just the shopping season.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.


November 24th, 2015 at 9:32 am by maribeth crandell
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To escape religious persecution a group of men, women and children, crowded into a boat and made a dangerous and uncomfortable ocean crossing to a distant country.  They gave up most of their possessions to pay for the passage.  They didn’t know what to expect or how they would survive once they arrived.  Winter weather, exposure and malnutrition took its toll and half the passengers died. Traumatized the rest moved ashore where they were met by a kind stranger. He introduced them to other locals who taught them how to survive.  The newcomers planted gardens and built houses becoming established in their new home.  After the first successful harvest they held a huge potluck with the locals and feasted for 3 days forming a lasting friendship.

First Thanksgiving 1621

First Thanksgiving 1621

As I contemplate the birth of our Thanksgiving holiday, I can’t help noticing the parallels with the current refugee crisis.  When I hear our political leaders, clergy or friends voicing their opinion about whether we should accept refugees here, I think about our ancestors who were the “refugees” or “pilgrims” of their day.  I give thanks for the help that they had to become established in the new world and that I was born in a land where I can live in a manner of my choosing.

Can you imagine living in a place where bombs and gunfire are the norm?  Where you cannot take a bus or go shopping without fear of being the victim of some mass murder?  Where you’re at risk if you say the wrong thing, dress the wrong way, or befriend the wrong person?

The world has changed since the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but some things remain unchanged. There are still dangerous people out there seeking to destroy others that don’t share their beliefs.  And there are still strangers that greet refugees and help them to become established in a new home.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Return of the River

November 10th, 2015 at 3:22 pm by maribeth crandell
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There is a movie coming to town that I would encourage you to see.  It’s got tense conflict, powerful explosions and incredible natural beauty.

Big Quill head

It’s about a huge project to remove 2 dams on the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a beautiful documentary of people like you and me who had a vision and through patience and persistence were able to bring their vision to reality.

The Elwha is the largest river system on the Olympic Peninsula.  One hundred years ago, before the dams were built there were 5 species of salmon in the river, plus 2 species of anadromous trout.  These fish runs supported dozens of other species in what became Olympic National Park.

The dams didn’t just stop fish, they also stopped the natural transport of sediment and woody debris that used to build river habitat and wash out from the river’s mouth to build Ediz Hook, a long sandbar that protects the harbor of Port Angeles.  Because of the dams, the Army Corps of Engineers had to take over supporting Ediz Hook with frequent truckloads of gravel.


I first heard about this effort to remove the dams on the Elwha in the early 1990’s. After  many years of discussion, and an act of Congress, the project actually began in 2011.  Now, after over 20 years, both the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams are gone and the lakes behind them have drained.  The Elwha River flows from deep in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Sediments move downstream rebuilding river and nearshore habitats, and anadromous fish swim upstream bringing their life-giving nutrients to plants and animals along the way.  People have planted native vegetation along the newly established banks.

This dramatic tale highlights how perspectives change through time. An idea might seem great in one generation (like damming a remote river to generate electric power for a pioneer community) and a century later, realize, that idea had some serious drawbacks.  Improvements in energy efficiency and other sources of electric power made these two dams unnecessary and obsolete.  This documentary shows how we need to consider the consequences of our actions over the long haul.  It takes a lot of work and dedicated people to challenge what once was considered a brilliant idea. If you’re looking for some inspiration, go see this movie.  It’s free at your local library.

Return of the River

Oak Harbor Library, Sunday, November 22 @ 2:00pm

Coupeville Library, Monday, November 30 @ 1:30pm

Freeland Library, Thursday, December 3 @ 3:30pm

Your Vote Counts

October 26th, 2015 at 5:03 pm by maribeth crandell
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If there’s one thing we’ve learned with Scott Dudley as Mayor these last four years, it’s that your vote counts.  If voters had done a little research before the last election would they have made the same choice? He had a nice picture in the paper but is that how we should choose our next mayor?

During his first 6 months in office Scott Dudley had fired 5 administrative officials including the fire chief, Mark Soptich, who was responsible for saving the lives and property of many Oak Harbor citizens over his 15 years in charge.  He continued firing city staff without stating any reasons.  Many staff people sought other work before they felt the axe, like Eric Johnston, chief engineer, who then sued the city and won.  There were other law suits including Rene’ Recker, the Mayor’s former executive assistant who had previously worked with 2 other mayors.  She was undergoing cancer treatment when Dudley fired her. These law suits have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. More recently, he spoke harshly of city administrator Larry Cort while on TV.  Larry was undergoing cancer treatment and resigned.  With the elimination of several key city staff the city’s progress slowed to a crawl. Mayor Dudley lost a significant degree of valuable experience and ran up huge bills in legal fees and settlements.

Scott Dudley is an elected official. The citizens of Oak Harbor voted him into office.

Soon Oak Harbor residents will have another chance to vote for a mayor. There’s still time to do some homework.

Bob Severns and Jim Campbell are both nice people. They have both served on the City Council for several years.  When Bob Severns announced that he would run for mayor, Scott Dudley urged Jim Campbell to run against him.  The Whidbey News Times stated on April 22, 2015, “Dudley said he will be glad to endorse Campbell for mayor.”


Jim Campbell retired from the Navy as a chief petty officer.  Later he worked for Lockheed Martin for 21 years as a senior project manager. His final project was as liaison to the Royal Navy Trident Program in Scotland. Campbell was on the board of Island Transit when they ran into serious financial problems and he resigned. He ran for County Commissioner in 2012 but lost. He has no college education. He is 80 years old.

Bob Severns is 65. He has a BA degree in Business Administration and Management.  He’s lived and worked in Oak Harbor in the insurance and banking business successfully managing title company offices for 41 years.  He’s a life-long member of the Navy League and supports the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.  He’s served on the board of Whidbey Island Bank, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the Island County Economic Development Council and the Main Street Association.


On his Facebook page you can see him, and his wife Rhonda, supporting the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Marathon and other city activities.  Last summer they worked hard to collect truckloads of supplies for the firefighters in Eastern Washington.


Pet Poop 010

Bob’s wife, Rhonda, is an added bonus. She worked for the City for 30 years and is involved with the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.  They’re both active volunteers and frequent contributors to community groups.

I encourage you to do your own research, check out their web sites, Facebook page and news articles. Better yet, attend a political debate, sit in on a city council meeting or watch it on local TV.  Base your decision on more than a photo in the paper.  You have a chance to help determine the future of Oak Harbor.  Your vote counts.

Living with Wildlife

September 17th, 2015 at 9:59 am by maribeth crandell
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I took some great trips this summer but the highlight for me was a week in Yellowstone.

When I was a kid I went to Yellowstone with my family and had my first encounter with the Griz.  I was leaving our cabin after dark and there it was, slowly approaching under the streetlight.  After a moment of hesitation, I raced back to the cabin.  A moment later the garbage can outside was turned over.  Dad thinks that’s when I got the “wildlife bug”.

I’ve been fascinated by wildlife, studied animal behavior and worked as a wilderness naturalist for years, so I’ve had a few more encounters with the Griz since then.

Since I was in Yellowstone in the 1960’s wildlife management has made a 180 degree turn.  Back then traffic jams were caused by people tossing steaks out of the car window to a crowd of bears.  They offered tours of the dump where you could watch wildlife up close and personal. People put their children on the backs of wild bison, a huge animal with horns that literally weighs a ton.  Moose were treated as if they’re comic strip characters like Disney’s Bullwinkle, though they’re seven feet tall with four foot wide antlers and very sharp hooves.

Watch wildlife from a safe distance.

Watch wildlife from a safe distance.

Since then we’ve learned that people and wildlife don’t get along well unless we respect each other.  This summer while camping in Yellowstone, I learned I could be fined if I left any food, garbage or cooking equipment unattended. Rangers told people to keep dogs on a leash and children nearby. Signs were posted everywhere to stay 100 yards away from bears or wolves and at least 25 yards away from bison, elk, deer, moose and other wildlife.  They suggested you use your outstretched arm to measure.  If the animal doesn’t fit behind your thumb, you’re too close.  We used binoculars, a spotting scope and a long lens on our camera to get “up close and personal” with bears, bison, elk, moose and wolves.

Watching a wolf pack from a 1/2 mile away.

Watching a wolf pack from a 1/2 mile away.

When I got home, I saw this on the internet, an actual comment card turned in by a park visitor:

“Our visit was wonderful but we never saw any bears. Please train your bears to be where guests can see them. This was an expensive trip to not get to see bears.” 

I suggest people like this go to the zoo.

Most people think Grizzlies are more deadly than black bears. There are far more black bears in the U.S. than Grizzlies.  They crowd into areas populated by people, so troublesome human and black bear encounters are more numerous.  There haven’t been any wild wolf fatalities in the U.S. since 1888 (though there have been some in Canada and “pet” wolves have attacked their owners). In Alaska they say moose have caused more injuries to humans than bears.  The North American land mammals that have caused the most human fatalities are deer when they cross the road.  But they would probably say that we humans are the problem.

Moose are dangerous especially during mating season.

Moose are dangerous especially during mating season.

No matter where you encounter wildlife, in the wilderness or your own backyard, it’s best to follow these simple rules that will keep you and them safe and healthy.

1)      Don’t feed wildlife. That includes keeping garbage, the BBQ, and fallen fruit from your trees, cleaned up and stored securely.  You’re not doing them any favors by feeding them and it could put you or them at risk.  On some park roads more wildlife are hit by cars because people have lured them to the roadside with food.  At home if you leave food for wildlife in your yard, you are also attracting mice and rats which can do a lot of damage to your home.

2)      Observe wildlife at a safe distance.  Wildlife can act unpredictably. Even deer could attack if you get too near or approach their young. For graphic examples, check out the videos on the Yellowstone website.



Gardening in the Gloaming

August 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by maribeth crandell
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Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in the Puget Sound?” Very clever but no, you might say, he said that about San Francisco.  Or, if you’ve done your homework you might know that Twain was quoting someone else.  Someone named Quinn said something like it 100 years before about Paris.  Still, it’s a great little fictitious quote that someone should have said at some point about Puget Sound.

However, no one is saying that this year.  We’ve had record breaking temperatures and drought since June which is normally a rather soggy month. So far this year we’ve had 11 days over 90 degrees in Seattle.  The last two months by average temperature have been the hottest on record.  In addition this May through July has been the driest period on record with less than an inch of rain.  The previous record was 1.73 inches in 2003.

I grew up in the south and will not go back there in the summertime if I can help it.  Heat is one thing. Heat and humidity totally wipe me out.  I’ve lived in Western Washington now far longer than I lived in the south and my tolerance for warm temperatures is next to nil.  So what do I do about my garden on these hot summer days?  I wait.

I’ve taken up gardening in the gloaming, that special time between sunset and nightfall when the heat of the day subsides and a diffused light lingers.  Gloaming is an old English word that people equate with “twilight” which now makes people think of vampires.  “Gloaming” is related to the word “glow”.  I glow when I get outside in the gloaming, to garden or walk.  It’s cooler and quiet and I can weed, water, or walk at will.  And yes, I see a few bats while I’m out there.

A friend introduced me to the official designations for these in between times.

There is Civil Twilight when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon.  In the morning we’d call it dawn, in the evening, dusk. There is enough light for most outdoor activities, the horizon is clearly defined and the brightest stars are visible in a clear sky.

Gardening in the Gloaming

Then there is Nautical Twilight when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon.  By this time darkness is falling.  Objects on the ground become hard to distinguish and the horizon is obscure. By then I have put away my trowel and gardening gloves and rolled my wheel barrow back into the garage.

Astronomical Twilight is when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon.  Illumination from the sky is very faint and it is officially dark except for the light of the moon and stars.  This week a blue moon lit up the sky and cast shadows from tall trees.  I look up between the garden and the house to see if I can spot my favorite constellations, a shooting star or the elusive northern lights.  After these hot dry days, summer nights are a peaceful paradise.


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About maribeth crandell

Maribeth Crandell has a green thumb. Most of the rest of her is "green", as well. She's worked in city, state and national parks as a naturalist, educator and guide, on ships and on shore from the Columbia River to Southeast Alaska. She offers presentations for 6 year olds to seniors. She publishes articles, sings songs, plays the banjo and hikes trails. In fact, in 2006 she hiked the 2,000 mile long Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. She's been an educator for many organizations on Whidbey Island and for 5 years worked as the Environmental Educator for the City of Oak Harbor. She's been a consistent voice on Whidbey Island leading the way toward sustainability. Because Maribeth has a green thumb, along with the rest of her.

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