answer the question

Until a few months ago I had no idea lawn bowling existed in Woodland Park, this discovery was made upon improvisation of our walking route away from the crowded west shore of Green Lake where walkers, joggers and overly-friendly wiener dogs have a tendency to aerosolize in the afternoons past the acceptable carrying capacity of fresh air. After detours through several alleys, we climbed the grassy hill on the north border of Woodland Park and there it was, the most improbably-placed, immaculate bowling green which might have evinced an air of refinement were it not for the cordon of chain link fence which gave off the aura of prison yard. For the less genteel, there are even horseshoe pits that resemble a golf driving range in miniature. On the other side of the bowling green pictured here is that grassy hill we climb(ed) and beyond that stand of trees one would find the south shore of sprawling Green Lake.  Dunno why lawn bowling brings to mind ruthlessly bratty John McEnroe, it’s obviously a completely different sport than tennis. However, the two activities merge for me, bringing to mind the preppy country club set although truth be told, in Seattle, bowling greens are just as likely to be culturally appropriated by thoughtful hipsters at Jefferson Park, as populated by fuddy dudsters sporting white Dockers. But hands up here because I’m not viciously impugning the sport, really I know nothing about it except the ball is referred to as a “kitty” and that’s funny because the next door neighbors’ cat just meowed from the front porch. He looked up at me and panicked, we have a bad relationship. I’m standing in my closet with my little window propped open with one of Oliver Fern’s comic books, I’m getting the most amazing nighttime cross breeze. It feels like it came straight from the Chocolate Glacier.

May 2020 - Lawn Bowling 410-2

About this surprising bowling green, the boys are far more interested in the mountain bike trails which criss cross the woods in the north end of the park here although it would be a little tricky with the homeless encampments which have proliferated in this particular area, seems like it’d be rather insensitive to ride too close to someone’s tent. There are more visible homeless around Green Lake than I can remember, last winter there were usually at least two or three tents in the copse of trees across from Beth’s Cafe. Today after lunchtime, Oliver Fern came down the hill with me to pick up my newly refurbished bicycle. It’s official: I now have the ugliest bike in Seattle. The refurbish cost more than I paid for the bike twenty five years ago. Ordinarily such an investment wouldn’t have made a lot of sense but test riding new bikes isn’t as fun as usual. In addition, bicycles are a far more valuable commodity these days although it’s a seller’s market for used bikes and plenty of people are wheeling and dealing. I’ve gotta feeling when the pandemic is over there’ll still be a lot of new riders (which is a wonderful thing) but also quite a few shiny bikes for sale when people go back to their cars and gyms.

Oliver and I whooshed home on the bike path through the Arboretum, we were warm and sweaty after the climb up the hill (I walked my bike but Oliver zig-zagged his way up the street). We lay in the sun on the back porch. Hours ago in the morning we had a couple of terrible rows, he and I. Now I looked upon him with deep love and contentedness. He was the unwitting beneficiary of an outpouring of regret and affection, readily accepting as he was of those two ice cream sandwiches which I offered to him there on the porch. Vanilla ice cream dribbled down his chin as reality faded into the pages of Runaway Ralph, a story about a mouse who leads a secret life zooming around on his motorcycle.

2 thoughts on “answer the question

  1. I keep thinking about this one. You’re a master explorer and storyteller. I lived up that way when I first moved to Seattle. I’m not sure I ever wandered through the parks around there. I want to go see the lawn bowling site. That’s similar to bocce/boules, right? I haven’t been back to that neighborhood in a while. I was sad to read that Lama G’s closed. I always liked going in there. He made some wonderful chai and a simple but tasty breakfast sandwich. I think our politics were pretty different, though.

    Those Arizona fires are always a concern. My parents and my sister’s family share a small place in the mountains. The most recent fires aren’t threatening it, but they have had to alter their routes. Fires are scary. I’ve been to Paradise, California twice now. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be there during the Camp Fire. I hope the West (and everyone) avoids a hot, dry fire season.

    • If you read me long enough you’ll figure out I’m kind of a one trick pony when it comes to telling stories 🙂 but trying to do it is the proverbial worthwhile journey and all the same I’m glad you stopped by. Yes, it seems like lawn bowling and bocce are fairly similar. Dunno if you’ve ever been there but Jefferson Park up on Beacon Hill has a pretty fancy range (I think that one’s even artificial turf). Woodland Park has both the big yard and separate lanes. They’re not fancy, the building next to the main range looks circa 1970. Never went to Lama G’s.

      I’m pretty worried about fires, this summer. We really lucked out around here, last year. I was so prepared for it to be a lot like the year before (when we had ash dusting the city and terrible air) but the WA and OR PNW was just not that bad. For what it’s worth, among others it was one of your essays/journals about Paradise that convinced me it was time for at least a one-time prop- for all the work you’d been doing writing, documenting. I was struck by the intensity, surreal ness of that trip for you

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