Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Standing in Place

Meadow, sky, bluffs, water, and forest—534 acres of it—are only an hour away from me, I learned yesterday. In all of the years that I’ve lived in Seattle, I think I’ve only been to Discovery Park three times, and yesterday was the first time I ever have been there alone.

I didn’t even know which bus to take, although it turns out that I can catch one just down the street that takes me there on a meandering route through Magnolia and then brings me back home—or onto Georgetown, if I still want to wander. It dropped me off at the gates of the park and was there when I left a few hours later.

I entered into grassland, open and wind-rippled, and soon was at the bluffs, a dazzling configuration of sky and water in front of them. A long and winding path took me through the woods and down to the water, a lighthouse, and a house that I wish were mine. A curtain moved at one of its broken windows, making me wonder if it were really vacant, in spite of its boarded-up door.

A small, rocky point showed that the lighthouse wasn’t there for decorative purposes and I immediately thought of coming back during a storm, although the wooden steps and dirt path could be treacherous terrain in a heavy rain. But there are other trails and acres more of the park to wander through, which is a gift and a promise.

I have short-changed this part of the world, I think, wishing it were more urban, more New York, more Los Angeles, without exploring its very true strengths. There are buses that lead to ferries and ferries that go to towns I’ve never bothered to visit. 

This could be the spot I’ve always wanted, where I can have small adventures in place—at least for a few years, until I’ve seen it all. And without a car, fat chance of that ever happening.

But without a car, the adventures expand a little. The direct route is seldom a journey I want to take, and our cumbersome transit system guarantees that direct will never be an option.  And since water is a large component of any excursion I want to make, any weather is good for me. I may not make it to the “real ocean” for a while but there are other forms of beauty and yesterday I found what I really needed—the sight of tall grass bending in the wind and silver driftwood logs tossed up onto rocks.

Seattle has more of what I search for in other countries than I’ve ever found in Hong Kong or Thailand when it comes to seascapes. The waves I saw yesterday were small but pronounced, even on a day as sun-filled and placid as yesterday was, and the rocky beach was studded with the balloon-seaweed of my childhood. People had built little shelters from driftwood, looking like the Garth Williams pictures in The Sailor Dog, and nobody there was wearing a bikini, unlike Golden Gardens’ or Alki’s Gidget girls. This small beach felt wild, which was exactly the gift I needed—and will return to.