Several miles into our bicycle ride last weekend I remembered the headlamp was still back in the car. Oops. The second old tunnel along our route was truly abyssal, we dismounted (that makes us sound like flexible gymnasts, which couldn’t be further from the truth) for the descent into clammy darkness until the distant light at the other end of the curving hole in the ground was slowly revealed, backlighting basketball-sized basalt which would surely have caused any number of disasters-on-wheels. The frame below depicts the eastern entrance of that tunnel.
This morning the boys and I sojourned to the beach at Discovery Park for the third time in four days. They’d been pleading to attempt an excavation of a small, coast guard-issue row boat which was buried keel-up in thick sand and clay, several hundred feet out from shore. Adam’s truly a lad after my own heart, he thought that doggone little boat would be a splendid addition to the rust garden and last night as I attempted to fall asleep I was tossing and turning with excitement. Could we really do it? Am I corrupting the boys with bananas shenanigans like this? In the event we were actually successfully, the matter of transporting the boat home was of slightly-more-than-mild concern and with no bungee or rope, we scrounged several faded, thirty foot extensions cords. We hauled along my small, old kayak carrier. This was going to be interesting, to say the least.
Armed with two shovels and a hoe, we labored for four hours to unearth the rowboat, working knee-deep in murky Puget Sound stew. The boys did most of the hard work. Although I stuck mainly to hoeing sand away from their dig, my arthritis will be screamingly bad tomorrow. When it looked as though we’d been defeated by the flooding tide, had started patting each other on the back for a job well-done and don’t worry that was still really fun! lo and behold, Adam discovered our excavation was having the effect of floating the upside-down boat! Furious and frantic levering enabled us to flip the boat which was revealed inside to be a moldy, stripped-down-to-the-fiberglass mess, fit for only the hardiest barnacles. The boys had a bit of fun in the flood tide before it got too deep, floating the boat (more of a soggy, ripped-open burrito) around in circles. Adam was convinced to the end that the thing could still be sunk and filled for a charming raised-bed but it looked far better buried the way we found it. In the end we had to let it go, the tide was coming on too strong.
I’m proud of the boys, they worked furiously without complaint, refused to give up. This was even after I’d thrown my hands up with exhausted bemusement and tried to entice them with visions of huge bowls of ice cream at home. We’ve found some pretty cool treasures over the years. A couple of summers ago, Adam wheeled a humongous tractor trailer tire a mile down the beach, to the mouth of the Elwha. It’s in the backyard now, leaned against the Hawthorne tree, framed by English ivy. The S.S. Moldy has probably found another resting home at the foot of the south bluffs in Discovery Park, at least until the next storm in November.
postscript: Wrote this on Thursday.
This morning, the boys and I headed across town to Discovery Park for a long walk. We like sneaking to the beach using a quiet shortcut very steeply down the bluff in the woods. When Adam was little I told him we had to be quiet as possible so the Magic Dancing Fairies wouldn’t hear us otherwise they’d play their flutes and we’d be forced to dance against our will, I’d lifted that little gem from one of beloved Arnold Lobel’s quite possibly most idiotic children’s stories. At any rate, as of last year neither one of the boys believes in the Magic Dancing Fairies. Now they’re just incredulous that I took advantage of their naivety with such a stupid yarn.
The minus tide was incredible, we haven’t walked so far out into the Sound for a couple years. Later on, Oliver Fern thought it was delightfully trippy that our GPS track showed us underwater and I would have to agree. The low tide mark was so out there that standing at water’s edge using Oliver’s binoculars I could see beachcombers on the eastern shore of Bainbridge Island! Both of the boys wore their swimsuits, they crawled about all fours in sandy tidepools, trying to catch crabs. Oliver found a dead fish that he wanted to take home and give a proper burial in the backyard but I told him no. We ended up baked like chocolate chip cookies. Back at the house, none of us was sunburnt or sunburned but the life essence had been positively desiccated out of us. Each of the boys had just enough energy to sit in front of a fan, only to read. Sweat was pouring out of me so that I figured it was a good time for my chores, there’s nothing to beat a heat wave like going on a scavenger hunt for your kids’ hidden dirty underwear.
Adam has recently read H.G. Wells’ Time Machine and Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and I think mostly as an excuse to read another Stephen King book he asked to put King’s 11/22/63 on his e-reader so he could continue the time travel theme (that works fine for me). Oliver Fern reread one of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. I’m a quarter of the way through Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kittredge, it made me really cry this morning.
On Saturday, all four of us put our bikes on the back of the car and headed east of the crest for a hot-as-Hades but quiet bike ride, that’s where this frame comes from. Normal people don’t go bike riding this time of year where we went but these aren’t normal times. It’s starting to get crispy in Kittitas Valley, at least the parts of it that aren’t irrigated for timothy hay and whatnot. I had to explain to the boys how beautiful the balsamroot would’ve been inside the canyon just a month and a half ago, they could hardly believe there used to be yellow flowers attached to the crunchy leaves which dotted the hillside below us. The sage was unbelievably fragrant (and probably why I’m still sneezy). Willows whapped us on the arms as we whooshed into the shade of towering basalt cliffs. Turkey vultures soared in the sky above us, ravenous at the pasty white Seattleites, below. One of the vultures flew off for A-1 Steak Sauce. I’m a little disappointed for not trying harder to capture this abandoned homestead. It was late enough in the afternoon that some of the beautiful color of the steppe came out. Probably I was just too hot to care about pretty things, anymore.
We listened more to Lower Dens on the way home, the band (Jana Hunter, really) is a recent find for me. Their debut album is hands-down my favorite of their work but the newest record is cool, leaning more heavily on the synth-pop side of the spectrum. Jana Hunter recently transitioned to he/him. It really overwhelmed me with emotion reading about how he experienced terrible anxiety about the potential changes in his voice (a marvelous, honeyed thing) as a result of testosterone therapy and what the reception might be from devoted listeners of the band.
Today I took the boys up to the Cascades for a summit that was fairly adventurous for Oliver Fern, there was some exposure involved with just a bit of easy class 2 climbing. After lounging atop for some time, we made the surprising acquaintance of a mountain goat recently relocated from Olympic National Park, it was wearing a bulky box around its neck, ostensibly for tracking-purposes but which instead gave it the appearance of a demented funhouse mirror Saint Bernard in the Alps. What a mangy, ugly fellow it was! It had fearsomely sharp horns and part of me was nervous it would pin us down in a bad spot, during the mildly hazardous portion of our descent. The boys and I filled our pockets with rocks and just like that our heretofore uneventful summer turned positively interesting.
Alas, we descended with no drama. After prolongedly sniffing the rock upon which my stinking, sweaty Hunt’s Manwich manbutt had been parked for the past hour, the mountain goat wandered in the opposite direction.
On Sunday we went for a walk in Seward Park to find Oliver Fern a Bald eagle. Those stately, giant Douglas firs which dominate Bailey Peninsula, soaring to the heights and offering the majestic raptors surround-views of the water they favor so much, are reliable places to look. Never mind Bald eagles are like fruit flies these days, Oliver got his first real binoculars for his birthday and wanted to try them out on something bigger than a chickadee. At first we stuck mostly to walking in the woods to avoid people, and to hunt the lower canopies for other aviary species. Oliver’s heel was still recovering from a long walk in the Teanaway on Friday, where he developed a terrible blister from sloppy, seemingly perennial untied shoes (it looks like there’s a pepperoni stuck to the back of his poor foot). He was more cheerful to be on this stroll than you might imagine because he was going for a spin in the pair of leather hiking boots which had been dug out from the basement, hardly-used hand-me downs from his older brother. The boys’ feet grow ridiculously fast but we can’t just stick them in junky kids shoes, Oliver turned eight but wears a larger adult size. Adam is twelve years old but on the verge of wearing an adult size fourteen. We’ve got to stop giving them vitamins or ice cream, I haven’t decided which.
For a beautiful Sunday afternoon in one of Seattle’s beloved parks it was surprisingly quiet although periodically a jogger such as the gorgeous hardman archetype you’ll find in Seattle, Boulder (or Berkeley) sporting cloying manbun, short shorts revealing tanned, tightly sculpted hamstrings tying into flexible gluteals and furthermore quite inexplicably, parsimoniously clad in Roman sandals, huffing-puffing too close past us on the wide-enough path, sans mask. Hark Great Horned Owl, why just this once won’t you come swooping down to attack the manbun, shredding it to a topknot like a Trowbridge shrew, taking the longest strands back to your tree cavity for a cozier owl house? No Baldies or Great Horned owls when you need them, the boys accused me of scaring all the good birds away with my stupidly-squeaky podiatrically correct shoes, every step sounds like a Mallard duck in heat. It was a lovely stroll, though. I’m sorry if I make myself sound like a misanthropic asshole every time I complain about other people jogging through the park or neighborhood without the simplest contingency mask or face covering. God-almighty, is it really too much to ask for everyone to strap something around their neck, at least…… for the just-in-case? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
At any rate, I love Seward Park the park (the namesake neighborhood is nice, too) which is like Green Lake except more, different stripes and comers. The crowd at Green Lake has gotten more racially diverse the past twenty years in my unscientific opinion but Green Lake the largely single family neighborhood of the same name seems lily white as ever. Seward Park is comparatively shoutingier distance from more socioeconomically and racially diverse neighborhoods. It shows in the kippahs, hijabs, obnoxious four-wheel drive strollers, and boomboxes blended seamlessly on a Sunday night.
postscript: This particular frame is from Seward Park. But it was February, I crawled about all fours like a wet dog and held my breath to avoid disturbing this masterpiece.