Monday, July 18, 2011


 I'M THINKING ABOUT BIRDLAND AND WONDERING about rain and heat and bugs there. Here in Seattle it's sweater weather, at least until afternoon, when I shed my sweater and carry it around until evening, then put it back on. We had one evening of negligible rain, more like walking into the mist next to a waterfall than actual rain. The longer days, rich soil, and damper climate is good to the plants, and we find flowers twice as big as those at home. Daisies as tall as a 7 year old child; generous Roses the size of my grandmother's china tea cup nestled in in its saucer. Our first day, Ellis and I were on our own, as Chad, my oldest was working. We decided to walk down the hill to the Market, and a block from Chad's house we found an organic community garden. 

The lot is dedicated to mixed beds of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, with a winding, cobblestone path leading to a small shed and composting bins. Each plot has its own personality, some with naturally shaped raised stone terraces, like small hillsides and cliffs, others with rectangular wooden, waist-high beds of railroad ties. Lilies grew next to Kale and Chard; Raspberry canes arched amongst wrought iron chairs and stone birdbaths. Crisp lettuces waited freshly in rows and Foxgloves stood guard. When I asked Chad about the garden he told me there was a waiting list, and no wonder. I would wait a long time for a chance to garden there. Luckily, it is open to the public for wandering, if not picking. (Signs ask visitors to respect the gardeners' harvest.) 

 When we'd had our fill of colors and scents we continued on to the waterfront where the market is bustling. We followed the brass hoof prints, but didn't find Rachel the Pig.  We found a pig down by the waterfront, sitting on her haunches, smiling, waiting to be admired, but I wasn't sure it was Rachel. In the market I bought the bouquet I'd been thinking about since my visit last year. Sweet Peas, Gerber Daisies, and rusty red Lilies. The bouquets are wrapped in plain, white paper, standing in vases and packed with water in a plastic bag. I carried them plus the sweet yellow cherries I bought all the way back to Capitol Hill, and they didn't wilt at all. You can get bouquets of various sizes: $4 to $10. The four dollar every bit as lovely and crisp as the ten dollar bunch, maybe only a little smaller.

 That evening, Chad took us to a pizza restaurant with a wood fired oven. We sat in view of the open oven door, and I could see the flame dancing inside. The oven was a large, tiled hemisphere with an arched opening. I watched them pull our pizza from the oven with a long handled paddle, called a pizza peel. 

Next morning, Ellis and I were on our own again, and we took the opportunity to walk down to the Space Needle. The view from the top was nice, but most fascinating to me was the blacktop yard of the nearby music museum. From above we watched a pick up game of basketball, some kids doing tricks on the stairs, jumping over the banister, one even doing a back flip. We kept circling the needle, admiring the view, looking for various landmarks, but I kept returning to that blacktop because painted there was also a labyrinth, the same pattern as the one I visit in Crystal Lake park. At first nobody was using it, then a child ran across, stopped in the center and came back to the start. A couple more kids came, and then a woman with a stroller. She left the stroller on the edge and slowly began walking in. Soon 5 or 6 people were walking the pattern at various speeds. Watching from above is nearly as satisfying as walking the labyrinth yourself. Several walkers makes the experience dynamic. Of course when we descended I told Ellis we had to find the labyrinth. It is painted in electric orange on black, and from up close you can see that the paint is chipped. Walking the pattern on industrial orange paint with Nirvana blasting above from the billboard advertising the music museum is a different experience from walking at home on cobblestones surrounded by a fragrant garden. As I walked, I gathered energy from the music, from the basketball game, from the children still running up and down the spiraling path, from my center. I thought about how I can find a labyrinth here or at home, about how I carry my center with me wherever I go.
Walk in Beauty; Work in Peace; Blessed Be.

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