A Natural Fit
Note: Patrick Kennedy is a Whidbey Camano Land Trust board member who moved with his wife from Seattle to Whidbey Island in 2017. He shares what he loves about the island and his passion to help protect the natural and rural features that drew them here.
My wife and I talked in the 1990s about moving from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest. I had a Seattle area client, and on my trips to the region, fell in love with the Northwest. At those meetings I would gaze out from Kirkland’s Carillon Point, over the shimmering waters of Lake Washington, the city with its high-rises sparkling in the sunlight, to the Olympic Mountains far off on the horizon. I experienced a sense of wonder in those moments, over time understanding better how it bred an active outdoor ethos, one of greater participation with nature, one I increasingly wanted to experience first-hand.
In 1998, the dream became reality as I was recruited to join a Seattle-based corporate banking team. Instead of moving via a several-hour flight from O’Hare to SeaTac, we decided to instead load up the Jeep for a greater than 2,000-mile cross-country excursion. We took our time to experience America and its changing landscapes as we physically and symbolically moved from our Midwestern roots, our families and friends, to our new Seattle home. We’ve honestly never looked back.
Until 2017, we enjoyed Seattle living at our home in Seattle’s Denny Blaine neighborhood. It was our young daughter who chose The Bush School when we moved; we together picked this neighborhood so that she could walk to school. Near multiple amenities, life in the city was convenient and provided for many of our needs.
We had visited Whidbey Island several times through those years. Over a Valentine’s Day weekend in 2017, we visited again to enjoy the Red Wine and Chocolate Tour. Between the majestic vistas experienced that day, the several wineries visited, the open and genuine sense of community we felt in conversations with others, we made the decision that we could embrace island life! (It was NOT all the wine.) By the beginning of May, we sold our Seattle home and moved to Greenbank becoming stewards for nearly 17 acres of mostly woodlands!
“On Whidbey, I live IN a park and practice conservation every day. The sense of nature surrounds me.”
I have only the fondest memories of life in Seattle with our many friends and relationships. To experience nature, we had multiple parks to visit, from the Arboretum, to nearby Denny Blaine and Madrona neighborhood parks. So why move from the city to my rural South Whidbey Island community?
On Whidbey, I live IN a park and practice conservation every day. The sense of nature surrounds me. I experience daily the whizzing of hummingbirds, the chirping of goldfinches. From my deck, looking out to a valley and meadows, I view foraging deer, rabbits, small native squirrels, and as I write this, an eagle soaring overhead. Occasionally as well, the hooting of owls and howling of coyotes. Hiking the many trails that the Whidbey Camano Land Trust preserves, I hear and feel the wind blow and watch the tall firs and cedars sway.
This summer I walked a portion of our forest with Kelsi Mottet of our Whidbey Island Conservation District. On that walk, I discovered I have old growth ‘relic-stumps’ on the land. In the picture, I’m standing next to one, with its ‘springboard notches’, carved in another era (the 1930s) for loggers to stand on as they used their crosscut saws. That’s history!
I have always had an appreciation for and acted upon opportunities to promote conservation. Growing up in a rural area, I find the Whidbey Camano Land Trust to be aligned with the rural values I see on our island. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this organization that seeks to preserve the best of our islands for future generations to enjoy.