by , May 7, 2008, 1:45 PM
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According to Katherine McKelvey, Northwest's publisher, its citizens are "a little protective of their homeland." So are the people in my co-op. Plant two inches into their allotted garden space or discuss communal landscaping and they turn into an episode of "Animal Planet": "When Liberals Attack." Our debate over alternative energy sources put Clinton and Obama to shame. Protective instincts are not limited to the great Northwest, though there's probably more to argue over. "Beautiful" is a word heard often here, McKelvey assures us. My fellow tenants are more familiar with "lawsuit," but that's the beauty of city life. You can get bagels, Chinese food and attorneys 24/7.

If, however, like McKelvey's readers, you yearn for "land, give me land, under starry skies above," you've come to the right place. The bimonthly is divided into various sections, including "Vine & Brew," "Nature," "Plant Life" and "NW Appetite." Here's a little known factoid: Chili peppers are three times richer in vitamin C than oranges. Here's another: Kiger mustangs are renowned for being intelligent, athletic and healthy horses.

These and other nature insights are a Northwest specialty, which puts a premium on outdoor life in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, Alaska and Montana. The stories aren't compelling nature writing, but they are informative. Horse enthusiasts will enjoy the 11-page story on wild mustangs. Similarly, the piece on the sooke salmon of British Columbia, where five different species of Pacific salmon cruise the waters, is deep calling to deep for fishermen. Long before the Europeans set foot in America, the native Salish tribe developed their art, culture and way of life around the salmon. And if you've ever been to a bar mitzvah, you know Jews do, too.

For my money, the story on artist Fred Oldfield was the most interesting. One of the premier painters of the American West, he opened the Fred Oldfield Western Heritage Center in 2002, which explains life in the 19th century. His daughter Joella runs it -- a mention that earns saccharine slobber: "Many daughters would build museums to their fathers if they could, but very few would have such stories to tell!" Judging from the legal fracas Picasso's children waged over his will, many artists' heirs have stories to peddle. And some carry decadent six-figure price tags.

Oldfield, however, is a man of the old school. At 85, he says the secret to a long life is "a good horse and a wide open range." Someone should tell the presidential contenders. When the Bataan March to the White House is over, they'll probably have a life expectancy of 15 minutes. Nothing ages one faster than trying to be all things to all people -- who give you money. Just look at the D.C. madam.

And environmental reprimands don't help, either. Even the White House now cops to climate change. Another culprit? Media leaves a big carbon footprint. So when I read the "Eating for the Earth" story, which reminds us that meat eaters are destroying the earth and buying local is best, I couldn't help but wonder: Does Northwest know its shiny heavy stock paper and ink is probably the equivalent of 1.031 pounds of carbon dioxide? That's just for the print production; it doesn't factor in shipping issues. In short, all of us bear responsibility for the planet -- though if I'm offered the duck breast with grilled polenta, port-wine glaze and blood oranges, courtesy of Chef Santschi on page 59, like Molly Bloom, I'd say yes, yes, yes.

On balance, the Northwest might be a nice place to visit, but I'll stick with the East. When the hydrangea blooms in my courtyard, and the sounds of Maria Callas waft from a downstairs apartment, I know I'm home -- with or without the salmon.


Frequency: Bimonthly
Published by: Peninsula Life, LLC
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