The light remains a little longer each day and it feels good. In my early days on Orcas Island, the dark lingered longer but in a good way. It was a time to rest and regenerate. Winter in times past truly began for us after the holidays. The last of the tourists and part time residents fled the rainy, cold dark and save for a scattered showing in the spring, they didn’t return until Memorial Day. Without internet like it is today, the dark was filled learning and reading off the screen, creating, sharing food. Potlucks were popular as was craft night, “stitch and bitch”. We spent guilt free time binge watching Northern Exposure on VCR tapes recorded by friends and did I mention the crafts. I learned to spin wool (not very well), knit and bought a 4 harness cherry wood loom. It’s something I’m still holding onto. The weaving went well enough that I made and sold chenille scarves at our still thriving, local art cooperative, Olga Artworks. Keeping the wood stove going and the pipes warm was also a priority. Early garden planning was always a joy as it still is. But now we don’t mark up catalogs, call in and verbalize each item number. And we don’t wait patiently for seeds (or anything) to arrive 10-14 days later. And so it was.
Twenty five years later looks different for us and the island as a whole. We are just short of five months at Wild Island. Many restaurants still close in the winter for a few weeks and as long as ten weeks. A shift has slowly occurred and people are much more active than the times mentioned above. Locals are out and about. Busy. Folks are visiting more in the off season to avoid the crowds. Our local Chamber of Commerce has done a bang up job creating festivals and parades and putting Orcas Island on the map. Businesses like Girl Meets Dirt are doing promotions like this one that share the bounty of our island. We’re even in NYTimes top 52 places to visit in 2019. This change of pace requires an adjustment. It means attempting a steady pace year round versus the summer blow out and winter restoration theory. It might require a few more morning baths!
We enjoyed a few days off over the holidays and we now are staying open through the winter. Winter to me primarily being January and February. We’ve seen smiling faces walk through Wild Island’s door these first two weeks of 2019. People come for a quick stop on their lunch break, or they’ll call in an order for pickup. I love too, when customers, a majority at this time of our community and friends, come have some food then stay and feel the comfort of our dining room. It’s intimate and conversations jump between tables. One of my favorite dishes we’ve had on special that I hope to get on the daily menu is a warm kale salad.
I finely cut kale- a variety is nice but you use can use any single variety. Give it a little massage with a dash of olive oil, lemon and salt. I top the kale with warm quinoa, roasted squash (insert any root veggie), mushrooms and chickpeas, It’s seasoned with salt, olive oil and lemon and topped here with red kraut, avocado and cilantro. I’m thinking a nice tahini, green goddess like dressing could be nice here too.