Poulsbo’s Fish Park Sans Fish

Four days of downpour. Its the season of the return of the salmon and while I’m weary of the deluge, the salmon are not. Rain helps their journey. It fills the streams, cleans them of chemicals and makes the water colder, all preferred travel conditions for their annual fall migration home.

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Poulsbo’s aptly named Fish Park can provide prime viewing of the salmon return. But this year, though I’ve walked its trails peering into Dogfish Creek twice after a rainstorm , I haven’t seen  a single salmon. Nada. In part that’s because this 40 acre urban park surrounding an estuary is evolving into prime wildlife and salmon habitat as was the park’s plan. I’m a visitor but the park is home to the returning salmon. Much like I don’t get to peer into closets when I drop by a friend’s for coffee, the growth of native trees and plants planted along Dogfish Creek since the park was created, shelters the fish from prying eyes. That’s why the park’s viewing platforms.

The Fish Park project began in 2002; a cooperative venture between the City of Poulsbo, the Suquamish Tribe, the Great Peninsula Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and family trusts who donated the property. The trails, bridges, viewpoints, sculptures are all the work of volunteer groups and individuals.

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Each time I visit the park I find a new interpretive sign providing both historical and scientific information.

Since October, 2014 Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment in Poulsbo has used Fish Park as a lab, monitoring the data and the new plants. The Poulsbo Fish Park Citizens Steering Committee works diligently on future planning, fundraising for more land acquisition and volunteer recruitment.

Olalla’s Winery and Vineyard

It seems an unusual place for a winery – past the elementary school which has been in existence in one form or another since 1888, beyond the grange hall turned community center, near the infamous property that once held a sanitarium made famous by the book, Starvation Heights. If you come to the Olalla Bridge where the annual New Years Polar Bear Plunge occurs, you’ve gone too far.

Yes, it seems an unusual place for a winery that prides itself on hand making wine using an ancient method originating with the early Greeks and Romans, but the new owners of Olalla Valley Winery are determined to turn the venue into a community gathering place and model for agritourism .

The vineyard and winery opened to the public in 2008 under previous owners Joe and Konnie Serka. When they decided to sell, neophyte vintners, Stuart and Mary Ellen saw the possibilities of combining wine, music, art and community in the vineyard and the tasting room. All summer they’ve been trying out wine tasting plus music on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. On Halloween they plan on hosting their official Grand Opening.

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The winery’s flagship wine is a red Golubok made of Russian grapes originating in Ukraine. The vineyard has a new section of Pinot Gris grapes that will (fingers crossed say the owners) be ready for the 2017 crush as will a Malbac and Cabernet Franc.

The enthusiastic owners have regular tasting room hours from noon to 5 on Thursday through Sunday.

 

 

Paint Out Winslow & Poulsbo

French painter Claude Monet was an accomplished early proponent. So was his French compatriot August Renoir. Because it was French painters who took the act of formal painting out of stuffy French drawing rooms and studios and into the great outdoors, the art of painting in the open air is called plein air – French for outside.

Painting in the open air became more popular in the mid 1800’s with the invention of transportable paints in tubes and small folding easels. Up until then painters made their own paints using ground color mixtures and linseed oil.

Plein air is enjoying another revival with a hip new moniker – Paint Out and the support of Kitsap north end arts organizations. Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo sponsor Paint Out events to encourage anyone, from professional artist to hopeful beginner to go outside and paint subjects in their community.

At Paint Out events artists must begin and end at a designated time using any paint medium they choose to create a work of art about a subject in their community. And they have to paint rain or shine.

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The annual Paint Out Winslow, sponsored by Bainbridge Arts and Crafts is happening this coming weekend, August 13th and 14th in downtown Winslow. Artists will have only 27.5 hours to complete a work of art, beginning at 10 AM on Saturday. The painting must be finished by 1:30 PM on Sunday and delivered to Bainbridge Arts and Crafts for judging with an awards ceremony following at 3:30 PM.

On Saturday and Sunday morning, the public is encouraged to wander, watch the artists at work and, if interested, buy directly from them. Last year’s Paint Out event included paintings done at the marina, Winslow Green, Waterfront Park and along Winslow Way. This year artists are encouraged to consider the coffee shops and restaurants along Parfitt Way, the ferry terminal and museums as subjects.

Interested artists can still sign up and pay the $40 registration fee at the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts website or by calling 206-842-3132.

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Poulsbo’s successful inaugural event, Paint Out Poulsbo was held in May. Sponsored by the Peninsula Music and Arts Society, Artists Edge art store in Poulsbo and Northwest College of Art and Design, the event was a combination of timed painting celebrated with music during the all-day May 6th judging at Northwest College of Art and Design.

Poulsbo’s organizers gave artists 96 hours to complete their painting and, because it was co-sponsored by a local art school, the judging included a student category ranging from age 5 to college age.

As guests wandered the exhibit music and dance was provided by the Farragut Brass Band and A’eko Hawaiian musical group. Dates have yet to be set for the 2017 Paint Out Poulsbo but organizers were enthused about the turnout for the first Paint Out and are promising an annual event.

Whether you consider yourself an artist or an appreciator of the arts, watching painters at work is a treat. Catch them in Winslow this weekend. They generally like to chat about their work, but remember, they’re on the clock to get their painting finished.

 

Wine On The Rock: Bainbridge Island

Sunset magazine calls Bainbridge Island “the Northwest’s newest wine destination.” It’s no wonder the island’s seven wineries drew a sold out crowd for their annual summer weekend bash, Wine on the Rock. Check out my article in the Kitsap Scene here and photos of the day below.  I only made it to five of the seven wineries on the day I went, but will be visiting the other two in a few weeks.

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Bainbridge Vineyards where we started the tour, picked up our wine glasses and passport to the seven wineries and listened to some folk music. All of the wine produced by this winery comes from grapes grown in their historic Bainbridge Island vineyard.

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Perennial Vintners, a small one man & friends operation and the next door neighbor to Bainbridge Vineyards. If you’re a fan of French white wines as I am, this artisan vintner produces some great local variations. Some of the grapes come from Bainbridge Vineyards and the art for the labels of their wines sourced from local grapes is the work of a Port Orchard artist.

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Eleven Winery is the brainchild of a former professional bicycle rider whose wine fans toured Wine on the Rock by bike. The Poulsbo tasting room for Eleven closed a few years ago to consolidate the wine-making and tasting operation in a Bainbridge Island industrial park off of Day Road. Wine tasting was accompanied by a terrific country western duo.

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Rolling Bay Winery is in a neighborhood and if it feels much like you’re dropping by a friend’s home to visit and have a glass of wine, it’s because you are. The tasting room and patio are located in the winemaker’s yard and if you didn’t know him before you arrived, you will by the time you leave. His grapes come from one of Washington’s oldest vineyard’s on the east side of the state.

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Also located in an industrial park (and next to a brewpub) Fletcher Bay Winery has regular wine and music events on Saturdays opening up their doors to a patio that adjoins the brewery patio letting connoisseurs of both wine and beer sip to music.

A Beautiful Day for the Tribal Canoe Journey

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It was a beautiful day for a canoe journey. Standing on the long pier at Suquamish, you could see them as they rounded the point at Jefferson Beach, paddles glistening as they pulled in a rhythmic motion -tiny canoes against the skyline of Seattle and Mt Rainier. Throughout the day on Monday seventy tribal canoes landed on the shores of Suquamish for a two day layover as they make their way to Olympia, the final stop of this year’s Tribal Canoe Journey.

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We’re lucky in Kitsap County – we have two tribal nations who both annually play host to the canoes. It’s about 26 nautical miles between the landing at Suquamish and the previous day’s resting stop hosted by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. In prior years the tired pullers would land on the Suquamish shore and, with a handful of volunteers, hoist their heavy, wooden dugout canoes on their shoulders to walk up the ramp to the lawn in front of the House of Awakened Culture. This year, a group of Navy men and women stationed in Kitsap County volunteered to carry the canoes.

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It was an inspiring sight to watch each canoe stop before landing to ask and be granted permission to come ashore (often in their tribal language) from Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman. Yellow-shirted Navy volunteers then waded into the water, lifted each canoe and carried it uphill passing by the flagpole with the waving flags of the United States and the Suquamish Tribe to the applause of watching spectators. The symbolism of that cooperative effort was heartwarming – the original first peoples of Kitsap County sharing their culture and tradition, getting assistance from young Navy men and women, most just passing through on a tour of duty, to the applause of a crowd of Native and non-Native spectators, all under the flags of two sovereign nations.

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Over the next two days there were evening salmon and clambake meals served by Suquamish tribal members and community volunteers followed by tribal singing, drumming and dancing by the visiting tribes – a tradition that allows the visiting tribes to thank the host tribe for it’s hospitality.

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I went back on the second day to sketch the canoes, every one a work of art sitting on the grounds around the House of Awakened Culture. Each is a dug-out canoe made of trees that are found on each tribe’s land. The style varies by tribe though all have to be seaworthy enough to withstand the open water canoeing of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound. Some are painted, some bear tribal flags and wreathes of cedar branches. Some canoes have made the journey more than once and others are first-timers. The new Makah canoe was carved by students at Neah Bay High School.

It amazes me, the number of local residents I know who’ve never attended the Canoe Journey ceremonies hosted by the Suquamish or Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes because they think they’re not open to the public. They are. You can watch and photograph the canoe arrival and departures, attend the evening dancing and drumming ceremonies and even volunteer to serve food and clean up. The tribes ask that you’re respectful and that you don’t bring or consume alcohol or drugs as the Canoe Journey is a tradition that promotes health and healing for the pullers and the tribes.

 

Meigs Park, Bainbridge: Home of the State’s Largest Ledum Bog

While commuting Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island most drivers are probably unaware that some of the highway parallels a trail located in a park  with the biggest ledum bog in the state. Or that some of the land in the park was once a dairy farm owned by the founder of Port Madison on Bainbridge. Or that the park gate features a rat sculpture.

Meigs Park consists of 120 acres of preserved land, some acquired by the Bainbridge Parks Department and Bainbridge Island Land Trust in 1992 and some under a joint agreement with the Parks Department and City of Bainbridge. Most of the park isn’t accessible because of the fragile nature of the ledum bog but there is a maintained public trail that runs parallel to Highway 305 and a parking area at the corner of Koura Rd. and the highway.

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Ledum is a plant whose leaves are used to make Bog Tea. Also known as Indian Tea and the Indian Tea Plant, ledum was used first by local Native American tribes as both tea and for medicine to cure inflammation. The last owner of the property considered building a spa featuring the bog’s water.

Before the land was owned by the parks department and city it was a dairy farm owned by the descendants of George Anson Meigs who built the Port Madison sawmill and founded the community that now exists there. In addition to his Port Madison waterfront holdings, Meigs, began the dairy farm which operated until 1950.

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The trail has remnants of  its use as a farm. Just off the trail is the ruined shell of an old trailer.

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The gate that used to divide the park from the Meigs property is still there along with its decorative and inexplicable rat eating a piece of cheese.

 

Pilgrimage to The Licorice Shrine

I was recently in another country where English isn’t even the lingua franca answering the first question one gets when chatting up fellow travelers. “Where do you live?” Usually they’ve never heard of Poulsbo so I end up responding that I live across the water from Seattle when this one, a stranger on the train to Madrid, interrupted me with, “Do you live where that great licorice store is located?”

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The Licorice Shrine

That great licorice store is Poulsbo’s Marina Market, home of The Licorice Shrine. So hip is the Shrine that it has its own Twitter handle @LicoriceShrine which regularly tweets out updates to its licorice followers: “we have WAYYY more #blacklicorice in stock now! and #buylicorice on Sale!” And a blog. And an online store carrying 502 licorice related products.

I live in Poulsbo and as you know from previous posts, I walk everywhere. Marina Market and The Licorice Shrine are on one of my routes and so I stop by on occasion to pay homage. There are rows of packages and tins of authentic licorice choices from around the world. Brightly colored packages of black licorice from Finland, Holland, Sweden and Germany (Marina Market makes it easy to identify the origin of the licorice by placing country flags on the displays).

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There are licorices filled with blueberry, pomegranate and mango. Sweet licorices. Salty licorices. Extreme super hot licorices. Gluten free licorices. Hard and soft licorices.  And for those of you who insist, Marina Market carries faux licorice – Red Vines and Twizzlers that don’t even list licorice as an ingredient. In fact, some candies that call themselves licorice are really flavored with anise, a seed similar to but with less flavor than licorice extract. Real licorice candies are made from the root of the licorice plant; an herbal plant originating in China and India and used for thousands of years to relieve pain and heal wounds. The root contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin that’s fifty times sweeter than sugar. When the roots are shredded and ground they create an extract used in the making of licorice.

Why in my Norwegian themed town is there a Licorice Shrine? Because Nordic people have a fondness for licorice. In fact Google any Nordic country + licorice and you’ll find that each has a favorite type and flavor. Marina Market caters to that multitude of tastes. And if you prefer your licorice in liquid form, the store has fifteen varieties of beer flavored with licorice among its stock of 1079 beers.