An Island in Bloom

A yellow film coats everything, from the outside of the car to the windowsill. It blankets the driveway as a visible snow, floating lightly to the ground. Springtime and summer in the Pacific Northwest couldn’t be more different than Southern California. For those who are allergy-prone, this means bracing yourself for all that the seasons have to offer, including the ever-abundant, glue-like pollen that turns the ground a beautiful shade of yellow. Even with the mild allergy annoyance, the beauty of spring and summer on Whidbey Island is a joyful experience.

Bright hues of rhododendron blooms dot the landscape, the perfume of lilacs and lilies fill the air, and the coastal breeze is a cool mix of salt and slight humidity. On walks in our neighborhood, the crisp mornings are a peaceful tribute to island living, disturbed only by the sound of our footsteps. It’s this time of year when the garden blooms — sunflowers begin to sprout, tomatoes start to ripen, and the pumpkin seeds planted a few months ago spread vine-like tendrils in a quest to take over the lawn.

The days are long, with the light a soft and comforting brightness, extending the seasonal enjoyment late into the evening. Gatherings around the firepit stretch past dusk, with the sunset a brilliant orange and pink glow above the tree line.

With the island bloom and moderate weather comes the fawns, adorably speckled miniatures of the local white-tailed deer, squeaking to locate their mamas, and prancing around like springbucks. Their tentative first steps took many of them past our front windows, as we watched in awe as their gangly legs awkwardly carried them from plant to plant, test-tasting our garden’s smorgasbord, even those plants deemed “deer resistant.” Sweet large eyes and oversized ears turn our way with the slightest floor creak from our interior vantage point.

With the deer come the baby bunnies, also known as kittens, many the distant relatives of domesticated creatures that were said to have been released years ago from the county fair. Generations later, these bunnies are everywhere, hopping around the city and devouring anything leafy green or blooming that might appear edible. The babies, small round puffballs of large feet, twitching noses, and wide eyes seem undeterred by humans, but prone to sudden, unexplained hops into the tall grass. The smallest being the size of a human palm, these little creatures are right out of a Beatrix Potter book, adorable enough to gain a loyal following, but mischievous like their literary cousin, Peter.

Spring and summer are a welcome addition for many islanders, who, after a winter of persistent rain and the occasional snowstorm, are happy to experience the golden rays emanating from the sun. There are a few unbearably hot days when the sun seems closer than usual and the thermostat reads in the high 80s, but for the most part, the spring and summer months bring a slight warming reprieve before winter comes once again.