EDITOR’S COLUMN | A rebirth for Clinton?

I thought with regular exercise one is supposed to lose weight. What a crock.

Six pounds. Six. Pounds. That’s what I’ve gained since Mr. Spock and I began our daily after-work wanderings across South Whidbey more than a month ago. And these aren’t five-minute jaunts to the mailbox, mind you, but expedition-length treks through forests and along many miles of shoreline. So you can imagine my outrage after that first trip to the scale.

My only consolation is that I’ve become a discoverer. Not the likes of Christopher Columbus, though in some ways just as much of a fraud. Like the man who “found” North America, I recently located what I believe to be the largest tree on South Whidbey, or what remains of it anyway. Within sight distance of the Fern Gully Trail in South Whidbey State Park is a behemoth, a tree with bark nearly a foot thick and a circumference so large it puts even my belt to shame.

Sometime within the past few decades, this silent sentinel succumbed to fate and all but about 50 feet of it now rests on the forest floor. As I walked along its fallen trunk I was humbled with the realization that for hundreds or even a thousand years this incredible tree towered toward the sky and that it was only in this tiny and final snapshot of its total existence that such a feat was possible.

My wonder was lost on Mr. Spock, my three-month-old blue heeler, but the marvel stuck with me and has remained in the corner of my mind. I hate to say it, but I thought of it again Monday while eating dinner at Cozy’s in Clinton — I had a BLT, no fries, by the way. That very night the community council was meeting to once again ponder the area’s future. Included was a discussion about the installation of a roundabout on Highway 525, a traffic light alternative that some hope will slow ferry traffic as it rockets out of town. One might wonder, however, what’s left to stop for? A banana split at Dairy Queen? A U-Haul, a used car?

Of course the downtown business district has more to offer than just that, and the community council has made strides to bring people to town in recent years. They’re true Clinton warriors. But the northward migration of key businesses to places like Ken’s Korner have taken a hefty toll, and it’s hard not to think of Clinton as that fallen tree, something great that once thrived but at some point suffered a deathblow from which it cannot recover.

The enthusiasm and perseverance of the community council may yet pay off and members will come up with a magic recipe to turn things around. Or perhaps not, and downtown Clinton has simply seen its day.

Personally, I’m not ready for that, and so choose to remain optimistic. I’m also willing to do my part, which I guess means I’ll be buying a few more of those tasty BLTs. Oh well, we all have to do our part, and I’m ready to make the sacrifice. My waist line be damned. It was a lofty goal anyway.