Back to Whidbey, for mud, dirt, gravel, and music

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Robin inspects the construction site.

Robin inspects the construction site.

We are back on Whidbey after a too-short holiday visit with the children and grandchildren in North Carolina (though we are glad to be missing the big East Coast snowstorm).

One of the first things we did after returning to the island was, of course, to stop by the building site. Work has been slowed by the rainy winter, so it doesn’t look like much yet. Some trees and bushes are gone and there’s lot of fill dirt and gravel leading up to the actual home site, which is still mostly a muddy hole in the ground. There is a big stack of firewood that will have to wait a year or so for the house’s fireplace to be operational.

Dumping dirt

Dumping dirt

We arrived late on a Friday afternoon, so work had ceased for the day, but while we there a dump truck with more fill dirt and gravel backed down the driveway and dumped its load. The driver was Ray Gabelein, scion of a ubiquitous island family. He said that so far the work had consisted mostly of hauling away mud and hauling in fill dirt.

We followed up our construction visit with a musical weekend. Saturday evening we went to one of the winery tasting rooms in Langley to see a local band led by Joann Quintana. Joann and her husband, Joe, live on the island and were on the China trip with us. She’s an accomplished singer/songwriter who has written some quite affecting tunes, and the band was very good. We enjoyed the evening tremendously.

The Joann Quintana Band performing at a Langley winery

The Joann Quintana Band performing at a Langley winery

Sunday afternoon, we ventured up the island to Fort Casey, near Coupeville, for a concert by Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. He is a Scottish fiddler of some renown, and she is an American cellist who gets a lot out of her instrument. They have been playing together for several years and have several albums.

The concert was the conclusion of a weekend workshop that the two lead every year at the Fort Casey conference center. It started with a couple of numbers by the Northwest Scottish Fiddlers, a Seattle group. Then Fraser and Haas played a set of Scottish, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Spanish tunes, with a little Cape Breton thrown in. All the students from the workshop played the final set. There turned out to be more than hundred of them, so they overflowed the stage, and at the end marched through the audience. It was an amazing performance.

The Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser (center) leads his workshop students at a Ft. Casey concert.

The Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser (center) leads his workshop students at a Fort Casey concert.

Now we’ll be staying on the island for a while to watch the building of the house, or at least the moving of the dirt.

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4 thoughts on “Back to Whidbey, for mud, dirt, gravel, and music

  1. Welcome back! You two know how to extract a lot out of Whidbey I. Not only mud but culture!
    What do you native Northwest natives have against mud? Is it contaminated, loaded with peat from the swamp, or just too wet for the builders in winter months?

  2. Cliff Sanderlin

    I noticed my comment needs editing but can’t find a way to modify it. Oh well, I guess it will provide something for the editor to change. BTW, am enjoying the book you recommended, Floater.

    • I fixed your typo. We aren’t anti-mud. In fact, we want to keep some of it because it’s very rich soil that will be great for gardening. It is slowing the builders down though. Glad you like “Floater.”

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