Friday, July 16, 2010

Dear Birdland, Wish you were here...

The seafaring boys came home, and we did a do-si-do as they saw me off to the West Coast. I barely had time to see a few photos and hand them a list of Birdland chores before my flight to Seattle to see my oldest, Chad. The sky was blue in Indy, but thunderstorms in the east and south delayed my flight and shaved half a day off my visit. I got to stay in a posh hotel, but it wasn’t worth the half a day I lost with my boy. It’s been a while since I traveled alone. You get a whole different perspective and talk about topics you might not have if it was your friend or family in the seat next to you. On the way to Detroit I evangelized about backyard chickens, and I think I’ve convinced a man to set up a coop in Indianapolis for his three young daughters.

Seattle is green and cool and filled with gardens and hiking trails. Chad lives on Capitol Hill with the space needle right outside his window making the skyline surreal. At night it glows; the moon sets over its shoulder behind the mountains. In the morning the fog hides the base of the mountains and they seem to hover, like a mirage until the mist clears. It’s hilly here, making our neighborhood walks and our woodland hikes double as workouts. The neighborhood has a wonderful variety of greenery and flowers, shops and restaurants. In fact, I noticed the lack of chains in Seattle. Beyond a very few fast food places and, of course, the ubiquitous coffee shop, I didn’t see any of the names that dot the interstate like weeds in the Midwest. Chad told me I’d have to go to the suburbs if I wanted that, but I said why in the world would I want to step through a doorway that linked me back home when I was on vacation? We chose a lovely Nepalese restaurant where the coconut curry was divine. It was a small basement dining room with a mandala painted on the low ceiling, and prayer flags strung along the walls. After our late lunch he took me to the ice caves. They are actually holes in the glaciers carved out by the spring melt. We hiked in and out of the frigid pockets of glacier breath to the edge of the snow and peered into the caves. They are inviting, but the danger of collapse kept us out. I did have Chad take a picture of me on the other side of an arch, so it looked like I was in the cave, but I first had to promise him that I would keep the blue sky above me. The thought of the weight of all that snow was enough to keep me out of danger. The snowmelt made for lovely, clear streams. We saw red raspberries, bigger than the black raspberries we have at home, and without the mosquitoes that always accompany berry picking at Birdland. Sadly, they weren’t quite ripe, ranging from golden to just red (but still very sour, as we discovered).

Yesterday we went to the market, which had an old world feel to it. Rows of buckets held gigantic bouquets of bright sunflowers and fresh-faced lilies wrapped in white paper. You could buy these for ridiculously low prices: $5, $10. $15 for small, medium, large. Fresh vegetables and fruit, golden cherries from Mount Rainier, organic raspberries, artichokes, a fish market. Various little shops sell antiques, gifts, clothes, acupuncture. One little store had a curious handwritten sign: “Gum for the wall inside.” A little later we discovered the wall: outside the Market Theater is a huge wall of gum of all colors--like an abstract pointillist painting. If I missed “the Pig Sign” back home, I could visit with “Rachel the Pig,” a huge bronze piggy bank in front of the fish market. Part of me wanted to transport Birdland here, but I know I would miss the prairie.

At home my other two boys go about their business, feeding the chickens, playing frisbee with Ursula, maybe taking both dogs to the river for a walk, playing with a tiny kitten. It’s good to be here, and it will be good to get home.

Hike in Beauty; Discover Peace: Blessed Be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She hopes to bring some of the energy and color of the Pike Place Market in Seattle to the markets at home.

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