I did it again, and I’m not sorry. Actually, it’s something for me to celebrate. The photos, video, and photo book of Twelve Months at Possession Preserve are finished and public. Ta Da! In 2020, I completed the eighth photo essay of the five book set of Twelve Month photo essays of Whidbey Island’s nature. (Yep. Do the math.) As I said in the book (and in the others before it); “My few visits spread across twelve months are one small slice of a very long story, yet more than a single Saturday visit and therefore tell more of a tale.” It’s become a habit.
Twelve Months at Possession Preserve is preceded by seven other Whidbey Island photo essays, which were preceded by three narrative nature essays about the Washington Cascades. And I’m not done, yet – I expect. (Whidbey Island: Cultus Bay, Deception Pass, Admiralty Head, Penn Cove, Double Bluff, Maxwelton Beach, Possession Beach, Possession Preserve) & (Washington Cascades along US 2: Barclay Lake, Lake Valhalla, Merritt Lake)
It is also an example of something that can be done by minimalists and frugal folk.
The general idea concept is simple: find something no one else is doing, that you think should be done, and do it if you can. Others have better equipment, more talent, more time, more resources. I’m a minimalist and a working frugal person. I don’t have the greatest equipment or the most time, but I do have some photo and writing skills and more importantly, I have persistence.
The Pacific Northwest has a phenomenal collection of writers, photographers, and adventurers. They’ve produced award-winning art documenting the area. But I noticed that almost all of the work concentrated on shorter events, those sunny Saturdays in August, or a technical discourse on the science, or detailed trail guides. Those are all good things. But I realized that none of them covered an entire year, or the broader experience of a place.
Hence, Twelve Months at Barclay Lake, Lake Valhalla, and Merritt Lake; three lakes to cover three mountain environments. I wanted to chronicle the life of a place from summer’s welcoming weather, to winter’s approach and dominance, to the timid and messy reveal as snows turned to slush which flowers found ways to poke through.
And then I moved to Whidbey where, for reasons scattered throughout this blog, I didn’t have the time and money to visit the high country. But then, did I need to? Whidbey Island has a wealth of nature. The seasons may not be as extreme, but the diversity in the wildlife is more than enough to engage my curiosity about nature. Several photo essays later, there are still more places to play. But where next?
Fortunately, I’m a Site Steward for Whidbey Camano Land Trust. Just as I was trying to decide where to visit next, I heard that the Trust was preparing to open a new preserve: Possession Sound Preserve. It was close some of my earlier sites, but it was an opportunity to explore a place before it was cleared, prepped, and open to the public. I asked if I could make the preserve the next subject and they said yea. (Bows to the Site Steward(s) for that property because that’s a lot of work.)
As I wrote in the book;
“South of the Clinton ferry is a long bluff over an empty beach above beds of vital eelgrass. Possession Sound Preserve is a half-mile of natural shoreline permanently protected by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust. What might have been a development for estates is now a place for nature to live, naturally.
A path leads from a high point inland, down a windy way through 45 acres of upload forest with wetlands and meadows. Soon, views can be seen through the trees to the Salish Sea. At the bottom, find a beach with the remains of plans being reclaimed by nature, with some help from humans.
The hillside faces east, and acts as a canvas as sunrise light bounces of the still waters of early morning to paint shimmering lights on the near-vertical stand of sand.
At high tide, storm waves try to shrink cliffs. At low tide, marine green blankets rocks, eelgrass and other aquatic foliage that are hints of the fertile spawning grounds for the fish salmon rely on. Wild birds hover, dive, scavenge, rest. Seals, otters, and occasional whales cruise by on their commute or meal run.
Look north, east, and south to see ferries, newly-built jumbo jets, and deep-sea craft from carriers to cargo ships to yachts.
All around are the reminders that the things of our civilization are fragile and fleeting, their seeming permanence proved temporary by sufficient time.
A quiet place to put things in perspective from the sights of volcanoes the nature of Nature and us.”
The official opening has yet to happen as of May 2021. You’re welcome to consider these three versions on the nature essay as a preview. (Nows to Joe Menth from Feather and Fox as well for polishing the images.
Photo book (7 inch square): https://www.blurb.com/b/10699447-twelve-months-at-possession-preserve
Video (because, why not?): https://youtu.be/J4UhEDlNDPw
As for essay number nine, yes, it is in progress; and no, I don’t jinx it by mentioning it (much) before it is done. Stay tuned, and enjoy.