We missed the boat quite literally but not metaphorically having thereafter shifted to silver linings: Not only a nice consolation prize, but ending up first for the next sailing aboard the Tacoma felt like an omen of sorts getting the year started off on the right foot. The boys and I speculated as to whether or not our emergency brake would hold fast in the unlikely event the ferryboat captain were to faint from the mid-afternoon munchies but a mootish point because front-row seat on the bow notwithstanding we don’t usually sit in the car on the ferry unless it’s one of those groggy, late nights on the way home. Still humming his defiantly cheery personal anthem of late (circa 2007 Jack White meets Johnny Cash), Oliver Fern split off with his mother to satisfy a hankering for a juicy hot dog (discernment is in the taste buds of the beholder when it comes to ferry food) from the galley while Adam and I did as many laps as possible on the sun deck but my feet started hurting when we were even with the West Point Lighthouse (it seems to stick out all the way to Bainbridge Island) and the brilliant afternoon sunshine shimmered painfully from downtown skyscrapers to Elliott Bay to my eyes so I said see-ya-later-alleygator and went down to the car deck. Speaking of which, we almost had to drive away from Colman Dock without Adam: He came running (and gasping for breath) to announce he’d managed ten laps.
As you could imagine, the boys’ favorite part of the weekend was sledding except for the time Oliver Fern got caterwhomped by some big kids after flying out of his inner tube on gnarly snow. The path to Hurricane Hill was tempting but overly festive for my liking so while the boys zipped and whooshed downhill 257 times, I headed in the opposite direction, timidly offering right-of-way to skiers, snowboarders and other shredders until establishing due course above the terminus of the bunny lift and trending toward Mount Angeles on crusty snow via familiar, lonely ridges until laughter and delight of children and adults alike faded to snowy silence and peachy afternoon glow across distant salt water. Time stood still before I realized quite a bit of it had actually passed and although the boys and their mother are used to me being gone too long, I was a tad nervous about the backcountry ranger on the opposite end of the long ridge from me (he was approximately the size of this uppercase letter B). Engaged in lonesome retreat though he was, it became clearer my own progress was being monitored and having already in provisional self-defense pegged him for the nannyish sort, I noticed he was having trouble with purchase up a steep slope in his fancy cleated snowshoes and upon closer inspection with some relief ascertained he was the stout but teddy bearish sort but that only made me nervouser the nearer we drew together because I could’ve sworn he was going to trip over his own snowshoes at any moment and the pistol in his holster was going to shoot me by accident because he absentmindedly forgot the safety having oiled it up on his dining room table in Sequim while listening to the radio so after exchanging big guy pleasantries (the nicest fellow, as I suspected) about the transcendental beauties of wintertime and such stuff, I sped up and created some distance between us. On the other hand, later back at the ranch he delivered a rousing reproach to a band of ne’er-do-well Johnny-come-lately-frolickers (nope, the wintertime curfew was closing in and everyone needed to head home to their fireplaces so the snowplows could be readied for the next morning).
Adam and I went for a nighttime walk from the beach house to the mouth of the Elwha. It was threatening to rain but very low, scudding clouds swirled clockwise like an aperture to behold the moon, larger than life. It was a sublime scene, we felt like characters in a snow globe and commenced to lose feeling in our hands as we knelt down to splash the icy water of the river where it mixes with the sea and after a perusal of interesting debris on the gravelly finger of the river’s west bank (here today, twenty feet over there tomorrow) that reaches into the Strait, the moon was cloaked once again and dusk descended very suddenly and we easily imagined the shapes of scattered driftwood here and there to be otters and seals. We revisited the river a handful of times the next couple of days, no moons but a couple of eagles and five curious seals on New Year’s morning. The beach house sat low across the road from a Native cemetery as well as a troublesome slide area high above. One night when I had trouble falling asleep I couldn’t stop imagining a tsunami carrying the boys terrifyingly adrift in the middle of the night while we cried for each other and I startled awake and it was Adam wanting to take a morning stroll to the Elwha for seeing if we could find interesting things washed up during the night such as colorful bobbers or sticks shaped like Han Solo’s blaster and I was starkly reminded nature is neither ruthless nor benevolent.
It’s certainly no longer autumn through the mountain passes. This indisputable truth was revealed to us a few days ago during a snowy tromp which devolved into a heron-like choreography of frosty one-two-threes (not unlike beleaguered, bundled-up sumo wrestlers) northwardly over-and-sometimes-through thigh-high drifts along an historic, abandoned portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. With surprising accuracy, the boys found it delightful sport to free snow laden boughs (directly above my head) from their wintry burden and it was barely cold enough for tolerating the fluffy blizzard-dusters (warmer but wetter plops can hurt).
It’s shivery up high (unless a Pineapple Express comes along and puts a damper on things) but one of my favorite rituals in the lowlands before autumn really fades and everything turns gray-green is documenting our festering, rotted jack o’ lanterns because that’s when even the most uninspired carvings will take on life their own but owing to the time-honored tradition of post-Hallows Eve pumpkin-smashing by who-the-heck-knows-who (pampered, spoiled rats have been known to pry in search of forgotten seeds and send gourds rolling) my subjects have dwindled to an odd couple perched atop the sidewalk and I expect they’ll be meeting their grisly denouement at any time.
Speaking of grisly denouements, macabrely entertaining meals for the Venus flytrap include Halyomorpha halys (the stinkbug) in that they don’t go down without a fight, veritable gladiators in the face of certain death. This morning we delivered a would-be juicy package of protein with the bug tweezers but it clawed its way to freedom so we brought him back and the ugly little bugger once again refused to go silently into the night. The discomfiting scene of stick legs feebly wiggling for freedom was unsettling to me and I couldn’t help opining on this sinister business, the feeding of his little monster but Adam reminded me rather brutally there are no vegetarians in our household. I’m not going to disavow my notions that easily but it is creepy the way the bony, ugly things come crawling nose-first down the drapes on some sort of bug mission such as crawling into bed with me. Feed the little monster!
Where the stinkbugs come from, your guess is as good as mine but it could be someplace like the woodpile. I don’t know how many cords are sitting there outside the kitchen window but it makes the boys proud and frankly it makes me feel manlier having it around although I worry a little about termites. We don’t have a fireplace let alone a wood stove, that’s true. On the other hand, the neighbor’s murderous cat has one less place from which to creep and pounce upon unsuspecting birds just minding their own business, window-shopping their way down to Grandma Bird’s treetop in the Arboretum. The pussycat had it in for me from the first, I believe for no reason at all. Our relationship is damaged beyond repair, unlike that bond which I shared with his predecessor, an orange tabby who before succumbing to old age (limping through the flowers with hurting kidneys, he’d arrive to me desperate for drinks from the garden hose or lick water-drops off the leaf-tops) always stopped by for tea and napped in the upstairs closet where he’d paw a nest out of my dirty laundry. Furthermore, the bad chap has the most ridiculous swinging teats which certainly must hinder him each and every dash from cars, dogs, hurried package delivery drivers and other hazards of the urban environment.
postscript: The inspiration for this musing was a set of interesting close-ups featuring a giant stinkbug being devoured alive but several months later upon editorial review by the Probably Should Get Rid of this and Start Over with Something Else Committee it hardly struck a chord and no wonder since the Venus flytrap is now in hibernation (a very unimpressive, solitary green sprig resembling prison-yard flagpole is holding down the fort) and I conceded perhaps turning my gaspy, wheezy journal into a B horror movie isn’t the way to go. As a paean to the rhythms of life, ramblings have been left alone (including halfhearted complaining about uncharismatic, naughty house-cats) and the spotlight instead swiveled to horribly foul gourds.
It was official last night: You could hear boiling in the radiators while the gremlins in our hundred-year-old pipes did their initial mischievous clanging and a final inspection revealed no toy trucks, MacBook power cords or drapes in danger of forge by the finned hulks sentineled about the house. No leaks, either. It would have been nice to make it to the end of the month before firing up the stove but a heap of deferred maintenance means the house is currently a sieve owing to decaying window caulking in high, scary places along with crooked sills and missing shingles. I’ve always taken a certain pleasure being on display at night for nosey dog walkers or wayward tourists hopelessly lost after a long walk in the Arboretum (baffled by where the real top of the hill could be) but come November the blinds and drapes get tucked cozy to keep the outside out.
Last week in the grocery store a bent-over, feisty old lady shuffled after me like an octogenarian Ms. Pac Man. This commenced after she tapped me on the back of the arm, offering a matronly how-do-you-do and explaining her eyes were starting to go south (macular degeneration) and since it’s getting trickier choosing (stuff is going south or long rides from there) I helped her in Produce. She seemed a little off her rocker (forgive me for sounding like an ageist jerk but I had the intuitive sense she had always been bizarro) and while weirdos don’t faze me, small talk with strangers is not my forte and she seemed disappointed yet determined to adopt me as hairy hunchbacked companion and indeed did I have the distinct, out-of-body sensation of mute fairy tale creature reunited with the resident forest godwitch come to benevolently touch him on the head with her wand. Watching her wave handfuls of greens underneath her nose for antteatery whiffs or stare sideways through melons like peepholes in a motel room door brought waves of recollection……… years ago in Willamette Valley country I was acquainted with a retired Lockheed engineer also clinging to self-sufficiency in spite of similarly deteriorating eyes and I remembered what a frustrated, ornery fucker he was when it came to favors (we volunteered together a few times a week and I weathered Jekyll and Hyde swings since I was a kid who knew nothing and feared [or stood in awe] of the man, having been made privy to credible Flash Gordon sort of rumors involving his ideas which had changed the course of history). For the rest of the day I wondered if I’d ever see this woman again and how on earth she got to or from the market. The boys and I have been on our own an awful lot and when this happens, life feels exceptionally fragile and every sunbeam and dark cloud take on exhausting gravitas.
Regarding less weighty matters, I was relieved to finish Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, my copy being the twentieth anniversary edition featuring a never-ending epilogue of cringe-inducing backpatting along with bonus where-are-they-nows. Bouton was ahead of his time for a jock but to distance myself from a detestable sort of hyper-masculinity of sports writing I dove into Stacey May Fowles’ Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game that Saved Me. It was grating at first what a sentimental shill she could seem for Major League Baseball but there’s more than meets the eye and it was a breath of fresh air. Nevertheless, I’ve exceeded my quota of sports-related books for the foreseeable future. In between Ball Four and Baseball Life Advice I read Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn and The Tripods books by John Christopher (my mother had reminisced to me recently about reading this young adult series and I found it predictably cheesy but enjoyable).
Several nights ago on the way to the Central Library, an excessively above-and-beyond field trip for a fourth grade school project having to do with medieval castles, the Ramones (requested by the boys) were vibrating from the speakers but all the better to drown out the inane banter from one of Adam’s yakkier pals. Following Beat on the Brat a few tracks later was the song about sniffing glue and it dawned on me that a line could be getting stepped over. Speaking of glue, Adam wore a brown ensemble to school, several weeks ago: Brown shirt, brown pants tucked into scuffed-brown cowboy boots because he’s assistant administrator for a group of seven of the smartest, nicest boys in the fourth grade who’ve formed the National Security Secret Club (the boys are heavy into unicorns so it’s not bad as it sounds) headquartered in a den burrowed out of wood chips under the playground’s catwalk or slide, I’m not sure because he was unforthcoming with the coordinates it being a secret club. Your guess is good as mine as to what purpose this fudgily-bureaucratic sounding club could possibly serve and I couldn’t help good-naturedly razzing Adam that he resembled a zookeeper, my only recommendation for the club being the boys switch to more upbeat, less authoritarianish colors. Unfortunately, he (and me) got in hot water because dressing up like a grocery sack for picture day at school is a surefire recipe for retakes and furthermore he origamied his shirt collar dracula-style (repeat of a past prank which was not well-received despite a thousand watt smile) and tonight he and I naughtily reminisced with satisfaction about this during penmanship. While I’d rather be chatting over my last cup of tea with him about geography or natural history, cursive is considered expendable by the school district these days so I’m having us work on it hard now before other things become more important.
Lately, I’ve grown more consumed than usual with the idea of teaching the boys as much as possible before I die as they’ll be needing to take care of their mother when I’m gone. At least one of them will have to pull down a comfortable salary if she’s to remain in the city unless she opts to live out her days quietly on the Peninsula in which case one or the other (or both) boys will need to not mind the periodic long drive out to Port Angeles and they’ll have to be good with their hands for fixing problems such as under the kitchen sink. Last weekend, Adam installed the new tire on the old wheelbarrow. This weekend we’re clearing off the work bench so he can start on his model kit (a classic Dodge number). I’m a little worried about fumes from the glue.
postscript: I’m still here (with run-on sentences, dangling participles and such). These particular musings were borne from a gloomy, rainy evening last October and although I’m making it my first post of January in the new year, I’m backdating it to eliminate confusion. I’ve never really known how to start back up after these extended lay-offs. Still, when I crank up the dusty WordPresser the warm, fuzzy feeling comes back.
After the steep, always delightfully roguish descent down sandy bluff (far easier than usual due to overnight showers which stabilitized the ordinarily terrible footing) through colorful maples and green nettles, Oliver Fern and I spent several hours wandering the beach at relatively low tide. After inspecting untold numbers of tiny crabs and undertaking a handful of meandering detours around ghastly, slippery clay leaching and oozing out of the forest above into the shallows of Elliott Bay, we eventually happened upon a derelict runabout, a garish-orange Whitehouse full of putrid seawater and gravel and we pried the dangling, corroded nameplate off with a mussel shell, loving found objects much as we do (Oliver Fern insisted we tow the boat home, cleverly appealing to my sensibilities with a most intriguing proposal involving containerized Saguaro cacti in the backyard). The boys and I’ve discovered lots of broken-up old boats on the Whulge, over the years. They’re terrific finds for children and their shutterbug fathers, akin to strolling along forest paths which mysteriously lead to meadowy clearings underneath abandoned treehouses with thick rope ladders hanging down. Obviously, if a treehouse appears suspiciously well-constructed of cookies, gingerbread and the like, you turn and run the other way unless your dad insists it looks safe (even tests the rope himself).
The youngest bicyclist in our household is only a few months removed from training wheels and has a bike with one gear so initially the boys and I stuck to sidewalks for our Saturday afternoon ride: Starting with a delightfully long downhill (distant views of the university’s football stadium) and then gradually leveling off into the Montlake neighborhood where tenured professors live in tidy houses with those telltale neat but frumpy yards that convey organized people with not a lot of time and which feature improperly-pruned fruit trees with watershoots like cellular radio towers (not that bad pollarding stuff, either) and that mess the sidewalk with rotting manna and protrude branches which hang down and poke you in the head. Sprinkled in are fancier, somewhat larger older homes lived in by aging code monkeys from 1998 who conscientiously ride their bikes astonishingly long distances but will bus it on rainy days and finally you have the smattering of dark little bungalows inhabited by curmudgeonly native Seattleites who go for walks in the Arboretum to blow off steam and scowl at English ivy like newcomers from Michigan, ripping it all down bare-handed.
After stopping several times to browse uninspiring yard sales consisting of broken radio control cars and embarrassingly bad music collections, we continued across the ship canal (stopping on the bridge to admire boat traffic this magnificent blue-green day) and joined up with the Burke Gilman Trail for a leisurely ride eastward, though the final push to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard was rather unpleasant as a matter of course. Throughout and during this time we paid a visit to the hordes on Kite Hill in Gas Works Park, got milkshakes (root beer and strawberry) in Fremont and whizzed past giddy beerphiles at Oktoberfest.
On Sunday, we rode the full length of the Elliott Bay Trail and that’s where these pictures come from. We were crosstown for Adam’s game in Magnolia, a place which I find positively dreadful to the fullest with the exception of that one Discovery Park (which we have not visited since the Victoria-ish rupture that sent alligator turds streaming like Atlantic Salmon into Elliott Bay) and it being such a pleasant, warm afternoon it seemed like it’d be an awfully fun save to squeeze in another summery ride and so we dodged ornery yellowjackets, swerved around grouchy guys with fishing poles and raced rumbling locomotives that crawled in the train yard next to us. There was a breathtaking popcorn sky over the grain silos on the way to the sculpture park but the boys wanted to keep going so I settled for left-overs on the return to Smith Cove.
I’ve been taking turns the past couple weeks with Adam, reading short stories by Philip Dick. He picks one to work on before bedtime and usually I take my shift super-early the next morning before Oliver gets up and at some point later we’ll discuss the story’s merits, twists and whatnot. Plenty of weird ones in the large volume we’re sampling, like this old lady who keeps baking cookies for a neighborhood whippersnapper so she can steal his life essence. A tad depressing at times, stumbling across some of the more dystopian older stories, especially considering they were a little ahead of the curve back in the day and trickier yet explaining undercurrents to a ten year old in terms he can grasp (truth be told he’s gotten used to plenty of dystopia the past eight months if you know what I mean but maybe you don’t). At any rate, Adam’s definition of science fiction has expanded. So has mine, really. For a voracious reader, I’m not very literate. For years I needed a dictionary at the ready to make it from one page to the next let alone understand sort of deep things. Right now I’m struggling with Jim Bouton’s classic Ball Four but not because it’s hard reading. An indisputable classic and luckily I’m enough of a baseball nerd for enjoying half the name-dropping but……….. it’s dated. Not exactly in the same way but it brings to mind last year when I finally took down from a dusty shelf and slogged through my yard sale copy of Lake Wobegon and by the end had chuckled a fair amount but speaking strictly for myself I don’t find Garrison Keillor’s writing much cleverer than his old radio show.
It was yesterday I was gardening and wouldn’t you know it the sky turned black coming down over the hill and there was a patch of thunder. Oliver Fern was sensible and heeded my warnings to run to the house and stay there until the weather blew over but I decided to take my chances engaged such that I was in a heartless renovation of rockrose (only ever meant to serve as placeholder). Adam was going to be shouldering his forty pound book-bag up the hill from the bus stop at any moment between sometime-and-midnight (on his fourth bus driver because the trainees keep flunking at the hands of Humorless Bus Supervisor who sits behind with the kids) and figuring I may as well distract lightning bolts from an innocent schoolboy lost in daydreams, toiled away. No lightning problems but a handful of cloudbursty downpours had me mildly hypothermic for several hours and while I was trying to remember the President’s name (you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me) Adam took care of dinner for himself and Oliver as he’s pretty good at fixing hot dogs but he did tear the buns all to hell as they were these fluffy brioche numbers I picked up to allay the boys’ mother’s concerns I’ve been feeding them hot dogs five days a week since school started.
Speaking of which, Adam’s loose tooth had fallen out during social studies. The school nurse gave him a hinged, plastic tooth-holder molded into the shape of a back molar for bringing home the nasty little prize. On the International Scale of Weirdly Revolting Things, a fallen-out tooth ranks highly but when Adam showed it off (reddish pulp still attached) I did my best to hide any trace of revulsion, nodding with pretend admiration at what may as well have been moldy dentures. We were standing in front of the house in the pouring rain and I was shivering uncontrollably but as he was clearly blinded by the beam of pride it’s apparent Adam mistook hypothermia for excitement. Loving him dearly as I do…… all for the better, I must say!
postscript: I wrote this a couple days ago but then the earthquake in Mexico City happened and frivolity went out the window. I’ve been worried terribly sick about friends who live in the city. It was no small miracle to me this morning I received confirmation they’re okay and doing what they can to help others.
After a disappointing perusal of seemingly more abundant-than-usual manufactured kitsch that had me feeling transported to a unique sort of Etsy Hell (such as the vendor who papers old maps and atlases over light-switch plates, I guess homey hardware featuring microscopic detail of backroads and small towns from each of the fifty states) downunder in what doubles as parking garage the rest of the week, the boys and I spotted a vintage, Super-Flex Smokey Bear and I was torn for a little project I’m assembling except his dirty polyvinyl armpits and neck were liquefying into sticky goo in the Sunday morning sun and the price was just not right. The irony was not lost, come to roost as it were, this awfully desiccated Pacific Northwest summer upon that iconic, lovable stooge of the United States Forest Service. In summers to come, many thousands more acres will burn for old Smokey. At any rate, proprietor was ornery cap gun guy who was in a far cheerier mood than usual and later we crossed paths with him while looking amongst the sterling silver for Oliver, who lost his beloved peace ring at the dock on South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan country earlier this summer.
We made our rounds in the antique mall where the boys smirk at the vintage Playboy magazines next to hideous Starter team jackets (for the few remaining ironic hipsters in Seattle?) but Adam begged us to go back to the market so he could get the Venus fly trap he had his eye on. He insisted on paying for it with his own money: Venus fly trap was delicately transported home in the back seat on his lap, Adam was like those nervous parents relieved-yet-terrified to be out of the hospital with baby. Except when they’re yelling and screaming bloody murder in concert with their little brother each time they spot a lime-green, orange or pineapple-yellow bicycle. Adam was up 32-15-3 (I wasn’t really trying) before I invoked the bequeathment clause for Oliver’s sake and snagged a half dozen bikes between the hospital and the football stadium but this raised Adam’s competitive ire and he would spot the usual trio of bikes parked in front of Montlake Market and Oliver basically gave up and we spent the rest of the ride home peacefully thinking up names for numerous Venus fly trap children (little brother and I each got the honor of naming one). I don’t know who exactly this is featured above but it’s clear she has a refined palate when it comes to fruit flies of which there are billions in the house at this time flying scared.
So it was with dutiful tenderness tonight that Adam played Oliver Fern to sleep with Mr. Brahms’ Famous Lullaby and A Minuet for Mr. Bach’s Children. Lately, the boys and I’ve been on our own quite a lot as their dear mother is highly sought-after in the Boring People who Frame their College Diplomas community for advice-giving, inside of which she occasionally must endeavor teaching adults how to act like big kids and will utilize downhomey, impossibly-true stories (corny) regarding gentle cows named Betsy, red snowsuits and deranged roosters (you can’t take the country out of the girl which is one of the things I’ve always loved about her). Before dinner, Adam and I played catch in the driveway. The baseball ricocheted dustily several times off the barbecue grill and once went rolling a block down the hill where it came to a halt next to the green fire hydrant. While the driveway is not an ideal place to play baseball, one could hope the narrow passing lane and spectre of neighbors’ broken windows eventually will translate into pinpointy Madduxish control.
Oliver Fern rode his bike sans training wheels for just the second time last Friday night and before we knew it he’d made it around Green Lake. Also, he is reading now. I mean really reading. He and I’ve worked hard together on it. Adam has been methodically guiding me through a chess match and I’ve been introducing him to David Bowie, the Japandroids and Camper Van Beethoven. About WordPress: I miss it a lot (still faithfully reading behind-the-scenes that output by my handful of dear compatriots). I’ve been replenishing the birdbath, reading (Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name and The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle followed by some insufferable Didion) and indexing copious notes, among the most writerly things a writer does without actually writing. This post is mostly a scribbled-message on recycled envelope tucked in the jamb of the front door. You didn’t see the note until you’d shimmied your way in……… one of the grocery sacks was slipping through the crook of your arm.
postscript: I thought about trying to pass this evening’s entry off as today but the truth’s somewhere in between. After one of the longest days of the year, the night on which I returned to this was clear and breezy in the city. The boys and I’ve still mostly been on our own. Little brother was already asleep when I sent Adam up the hill to 19th Avenue East for a couple of local weeklies (in the hopes of a good feature but usually to see which bands are in town) and I waited outside for him, trimming head-high fennel and lanky Shasta Daisies away from the neverendingly-prescient Black Lives Matter sign in the hellstrip.
Last Saturday afternoon, Adam’s bat finally made in-game contact with the baseball: A blazing, gravity-defying rocket emitting the most satisfying aluminum ping I may have ever heard in my life. Later in the game, he caught a few innings behind home-plate and got the ball back to the pitcher.…most of the time. During one agonizingly long inning of the game in which the casual observer could have completed several chapters of a more difficult Tolstoy work, I stretched my legs with a walk to the Columbia City Bakery for a box of ludicrous brownies (immensely high in price as well as taste) and on the way back down the grassy hill, having decided even a lightning-quick visit to the library en route was a tad self-indulgent, observed the diamond below and duly noted the issuance of another bases-loaded walk- but superb timing insofar as the opportunity next inning to cheer for Adam’s upcoming at-bat. Calling it cheering would be a stretch. Mainly, I nod. Adam generally disapproves of outward public displays of parental boosterism and would rather we keep quiet.
The boys were tuckered out in the evening- the three of us attended the rowing races and boat parade earlier that morning. The University of Washington’s best boats (ladies as well as gents) notched course records in utter demolishments of the jet-lagged, smog-choked visitors from China. The parade started on-time this year but to be honest we found it a little dull, Oliver observed the proceedings at certain times with that certain detachment of the bus rider. The best part was (and always has been) when the police and fire boats putt-putted up the Ship Canal with their water-sprayers on full blast.
A shortish walk was taken Sunday to the top of Index Town Wall. The boys were alternately fascinated, revolted and amused by the foil doo-doo bags (instructions included) provided trailside for sporty rock climbers who can’t hold it. The path to the top is steep for a pair of four year old legs but Oliver Fern made easy work of it. We had the main ledge to ourselves for all of an hour and this was good because my favorite regular cranny was off-limits due to winter windfall. Sixty minutes is plenty long enough for divvying milk chocolate Easter bunnies and watching clouds drift past, it was a glorious afternoon with my family.
At the conclusion of Friday night’s little league practice, Adam and I scrammed straight out of town for the following morning’s long walk through sagebrush and tickly ticks: Throughoverdown the Cascades, eventually backupalittle onto the desert plateau- that portion which doesn’t get watered for potatoes, corn and timothy hay and shelves neatly above the neutered Columbia. It’s olive green country right now with pretty speckles of flowers but that will be changing soon enough with a scorching summer on the way.
By lunchtime, the bluebird morning had turned into a watery sun and pretty soon the sky was a drab, dentedmetal gray (if I hear another florid description of a gloomy day including the goddarn word gunmetal I’m gonna go bonkers) afternoon sky portending Saturday night’s weather. Later in the day, we got outta the coulee and wandered a sprawling rim for a long time. I took pictures while Adam collected shotgun shells in a variety of colors, so many of them you will find.