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February 22, 2019

2/6/2019 1:08:00 PM
What a view

By John Doyle
In the late 1970s, when I first came to live in Skagit County, it felt like coming home. That first view coming off the Conway Hill going north on I-5 brings that feeling. I have to admit that what brought me to that view point was a little more scientific. I was on my way to Anacortes. I had studied the area and Fidalgo Island was the closest landfall of the “rain shadow” from the Olympic Peninsula. I wanted to live in Western Washington, but in the least soggy parts.
In the process of exploring the valley, I stumbled across La Conner. At the time, it was hardly on the map. The town was really struggling. Moore-Clarke/BP was on its last legs (I don’t miss the smell). Ah-h-h, but we had The 1890’s. I’m pretty sure that’s where I met Greg and Terry. Striking up a conversation, I told them that I had recently set up a new construction company. The focus was solar and energy efficient design. By the end of the year, we were all working together out of Nelson Lumber.
Both Greg and Terry had deep roots in Skagit and introduced me to the culture of the valley. I am deeply appreciative of their openness to a foreigner. Greg opened the door to very new experience for me. He introduced me to bird hunting. I had never hunted anything (other than fish) in my life.
After a crash course in gun safety and licensing with the state, we went to some favorite spots in the Bow area. One evening we were set-up along a ditch at the edge of the Samish Bay. It was a late afternoon in fall with the blue/grey ambient lighting that is unique to Skagit. Then, all of sudden, the whole bay seemed to rise up. I thought it was an illusion of the evening light, but then the sky began to turned dark. The darkness spread south toward us, and then completely covered the sky. Ducks blotted out the remaining light and covered the sky from horizon to horizon. I was awestruck.
As winter set in, there was a big snow that year. We set up before dawn. It was cold, and the sky was clear. Huddled in our duck blind, we then bore witness to the succession of predators that inhabit the Skagit Flats. A great horned owl gliding low and silent over the snow and field stubble, was first. So sure, and focused. Next a pair of coyotes darted in and out looking for any unsuspecting prey and unsure of their own status. They were followed by eagles cruising overhead, majestic and regal, looking for leftovers. By then, the sun was rising behind the Cascade peaks and the shafts of light illuminated corridors along the fields. We were the final predators on the field waiting for the ducks.
What a view!

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