“Boy and Dog” public art sculpture by local artist Georgia Gerber
Just this past week, I have had the following piece published in 2018 Whidbey Island Christmas by the Sea, published the Langley Chamber of Commerce. Four local writers have their work featured in this magazine, each featuring either some topic about Langley or about Christmas. Enjoy
On a cold clear day in December, an old gentleman sits by himself on a bench near a bronze sculpture, “Boy and Dog,” located in a small park on First Street in Langley, Washington. His extended family had decided to take a trip there to see the Christmas decorations and do their Christmas shopping. Having arrived on a tour boat from Seattle. The time ashore is not long, five and a half hours, but is still tiring for him. Not being fleet of foot, he has chosen this comfortable resting place, sitting on the bench with the boy and his dog in bronze for company. He can look over Saratoga Passage to view Mount Baker and Camano Island. If it were the springtime of the year, he might also add a grey whale and her calf to this vista, but, alas it is winter. Because they were traveling by boat, he had bundled up when he dressed for this foray, his wife having insisted that he wear the heavy red sweater with the snowflakes all over it. “It is Christmassy.” She had reminded him. He is toasty warm and happy to doze on this bench until his family returns.
His wife, daughter and three granddaughters have agreed to meet him here before having lunch. Their chatter, running, jumping and hanging on Grandpa has worn him down and he is happy to have just a little rest here on the bench. There are many folks milling about both from the tour boat and those who have traveled here by car, taking the ferry from the mainland. You see, Langley is on Whidbey Island, a popular destination.
Every year in Langley, the merchants dress the town for Christmas and this is the reason that his family has planned today’s event. Lots of shops to see, great places to eat and….a place for grandpa to sit and enjoy the winter sun. Many fine artists live here on the island and there is an annual competition to see who can do the grandest display decorating one of the merchant’s doorways. It is a stiff competition and the displays range from wacky and outrageous to absolutely gorgeous. Prizes are given to the winners. Last year the Braeburn Restaurant’s façade was decorated like a large della robbia wreath, complete with Braeburn Apples. This is part of the draw to come to Langley for Christmas shopping.
While Grandpa is dozing in the sun, a flock of little girls race into the “Boy and Dog” Park where he is sitting. They chatter like birds and awaken the old man. He smiles at them, giving them reassurances that he is benign. Suddenly one little girl jumps up on the bench and stands next to him. She chatters away at him in her high little girl voice. He continues to smile and then nods his head. She races off and talks with her companions. “He nodded yes!” she said excitedly. Soon there is a line of little girls, all dressed in their Christmas sweaters, red coats, red hats, fleece boots, and smiles. They are lined up by the bench where the old man sits. One by one they get up on the bench and whisper in his ear. Mostly he cannot tell what they are saying because he has taken his hearing aids out and stuffed them in his jacket pocket. And besides, little girl whispers are really hard to understand. Still he smiles and nods his head.
Soon they have all talked into his ear, and they are all smiles and twirling pigtails and happiness. He is happy too. Their mothers are approaching from a nearby shop where one mother has stood vigilant outside the door to be sure the girls were safe. The girls gather around their mothers and are all trying to relate their experiences all at once with lots of shrieks and squeals about talking with the old man.
He sits contentedly on his bench enjoying their laughter and joy. Soon his own granddaughters will be there to take him to lunch. Hummmm….he IS getting hungry.
The little flock of girls flies off up the street while calling to the old man….GOOD BYE, SANTA!