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Friday, January 15, 2010

Where We Live




We live in a place called Wickersham, Washington. It is a very special place because occasionally, in the winter, it turns into an island. Mere days later, it rejoins the continent, the sea receding and the roads magically making a fresh appearance but with fewer Evil Lines. It is kind of like the island of LOST television fame in this way, and not many places have magical properties like this. There were certainly no places this special in the Buckeye state, from whence I sprung, that I know of. Maybe my mother knows of one.


We have all sorts of adventures in Wickersham. The Farmwife likes to boast that we could ride clear from Wickersham to Okanogan without crossing a road if we wanted to, and out of courtesy I never contradict. This is a distance of about the same as Philadelphia to Hartford, only less congested and with more varied terrain. I am confident that any attempt would result in failure. I can just picture the two of us stuck in the underbrush up to our eyeballs before she could say, "Look out! A bear!" And this is with my intrepid nature, which is not inconsiderable. That is the kind of wildness we live in.




The other thing about riding to Okanogan would be the mountains. I have read Into Thin Air, and I am not about to put myself in a situation where I have to choose between dropping my mangled, dying FarmWife into a bottomless crevass or dying of hypothermia in the glaciated hellscape of the alpine permafrost. No thank you. I like these little hoofies far too much to risk losing them to frostbite. I stay below 5000 feet.






We don't need to go to Okanogan to have fun. In the winter, we can play Wild Mules of the Camargue while splashing through the Samish headwaters, which annually overtake little Wickersham Street. In the spring we ride to our favorite lookouts and survey the dramatic weather over the Skagit Valley, observing burning sunsets over the tulip fields of Mount Vernon and the islands of the San Juans. In summer, we ride after work and stay out until ten in broad daylight. In the autumn we wear our orangiest oranges and reflectivest reflectors, using the evenings to squeeze in every last ride we can before the Long Darkness and glowing valiantly against the surging blackness. Wickersham is a good place to do all of those things.

In Wickersham we live adjacent to a 63 acre wildlife preserve owned by the Whatcom Land Trust. This is wonderful, because it means that instead of tract houses as neighbors we have herons and eagles.

FarmWife made me take that bit out, because she says that in Wickersham there are not tract houses, but rather trailers. She says that instead of tarp-clad trailers and dead cars, we have herons and eagles. I think she should be all the more grateful for the birds in this case, and she should also remember that when Wickersham has gotten gentrified she will know that I was right in the first place. Mark my words: one day we will have eagles instead of McMansions, where now we have eagles instead of trailers.


The FarmWife's house, which I am not allowed into but which is probably stinky and boring anyway, is the oldest thing I know of except nature. It was built in 1900, which might as well be ancient history as far as I am concerned. No wonder it looks like it needs a paint job.


We have had several people come around to tell us stories about this house. We have heard that it was the Wickersham Electrical Transform Station, back when Wickersham was a booming railroad town, and this is probably the source of the weird magical effects of which I spoke. I am probably standing on a nuclear reactor or giant subterranean magnet as we speak. We have also heard that it was a brothel, which was a mystery until I looked it up on the internet and learned that it was a synonym for cathouse. This explains why there is such a firm policy of welcome for the little tigers, but it doesn't explain why the dogs get to go in as well while I do not. Even the goats have been in, and I really don't see how I am different except by about 850 pounds.


The best thing about Wickersham is that this is the home territory of the Blue Volvo. You have heard about how this Volvo inconveniences my FarmWife and her neighbors by disgorging copious quantities of orchard grass hay at regular intervals. Lucky for them, I have a tremendous appetite for this substance and I work tirelessly to staunch the flow. If the Volvo were not here, I do not know what I would eat, and if I were not here I think that all of the Wickershamians would be dead and buried under several tons of dried grass. So it is a lucky thing that the Volvo and I both live in this wonderful place.

Happy Trails!

Fenway Bartholomule


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