Season of ‘community’

Last week, Bill and Dana Isherwood personally experienced the community connections that attracted them to Mercer Island three years ago.

An APB had gone out to the MI Chamber of Commerce from a Portland couple looking for an Island couple who had trekked with them recently in Nepal. The clues were: Bill, a retired scientist in alternative energy, Dana, a retired chemist; world travelers, mountain climbers and sea kayakers; he taught glacier rescue in Alaska. They live on an acre of wooded property on the Island.

The Portland couple had lost their contact numbers and last names. So, the Reporter’s rep to the Chamber announced the mystery to our staff around noon. By mid-afternoon, mission was accomplished.

The Isherwoods indeed do live on eight-tenths of an acre on the South end — when they’re not in Tibet, Beijing or Canada. While both are retired, Bill still researches for the Institute of the Tibetan Plateau; Dana was a geo-chemist. They recently trekked in Nepal, and they moved here from California three years ago.

Says Dana: “Of all the places in the whole world, I love Mercer Island most. We looked for retirement homes in Boulder, Colo., and Seattle, Wash., but when the realtor brought us here, we knew it was home. It has such a feeling of community.” Which they’ve now experienced firsthand and are reconnected with their Portland friends.

Outdoor musings: Since we’re getting night freezes, disconnect your outside hoses to avoid broken pipes. Notice that the shoreline has grown around our Island this season. Nocturnal raccoons are still prowling in the early mornings. Yes, you can still plant those bulbs, even though we’ve had frost. Enjoy the ornamental cabbages and winter pansies in city median strips and at Bi-Centennial Park and the new plantings at North Mercerdale Hillside Park and at the buffer at the community center.

Inside shops: The village of nutcrackers has taken up residence at Alpenland Deli. Finders Gifts wraps what you buy there for free. Cellar 46 is expanding from a wine bar to more restaurant items, including CREPES. OO-la-la. Emerald City Smoothie proprietors Angela Napier and her dad, Doug Aardahl, will bring your Island Breeze smoothie to your waiting car at no extra charge. “Gives us a little extra exercise, and we feel better about it,” says Doug. You call in your order, describe your car, and they’ll have a smoothie ready for you at the curb.

Reduce holiday waste: The city urges us to give “experiences instead of things” to help cut the 25 percent more trash generated between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. For instance: gift certificates for movies, performances, meals, dance classes, spa sessions, language lessons or gardening or babysitting services. Other low-waste gifts include donations to charity in a person’s honor, restoring a family heirloom or giving homemade food.

A recent example was a Dim Sum party given by Fern Lam, manager of MI’s Countrywide Home Loans, to 15 friends. One guest, Helen Martin, Keller Williams realtor, explained how they split into teams to prepare the dishes, supervised by cook Sharol Klise from Duvall. For three hours they created congee, Shanghai sticky rice, potstickers, Chinese dumplings, paper wrapped chicken, Szechuan green beans and shrimp foo yung — sprinkled with chat and laughter. The party was bought at auction, funds going to charity. Triple karma.

Wrapping ideas: Maps, newspapers, comics, architectural plans, grocery bags, flour sacks, tea towels or tablecloths for breakables. Tuck hand lotion into mittens.

Need a stress buster? Try a cup of genmaicha tea — green tea combined with roasted brown rice, some grains of which have popped. You can feel the healthy warm liquid (sans caffeine) trickle down your throat and head straight for your nerves. Served both at Yuzen’s and Haruko’s or sold in local stores.

Reminder to hit the community tree lighting, 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at Mercerdale Field and the Firehouse Munch that follows.

Don’t miss MI’s Christmas Ship gathering, 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16, for a half hour. The community meets at Luther Burbank Park Beach around a bonfire provided by Parks and Recreation to welcome Argosy’s Spirit of Seattle, the official Christmas Ship. There’ll be hot chocolate, coffee and treats. Bring a flashlight to navigate the dark. Contact: (206) 236-3545,

As we enter the season of good will, send your observations from around the Island.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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