golden gardens IVXXI
Last Tuesday, the boys and I spent a sunny, pleasantly warm morning on the Whulge in the dirty-gray sand at Golden Gardens in Ballard. Because I’m trying to do a better job of picking my battles, Oliver Fern swam in his pajamas and socks. I buried the boys in the sand to warm them after their seaweedy-swim. Over the course of the morning I got hit in the back of the head by an unidentified flying object during the rousing climax of a nearby ultimate frisbee match (contest?) and I nursed a nubby goose egg for the rest of the day. The boys wanted extra time at the playground behind the beach and I consented. One of my favorite local musicians, the oft-purported godfather of Seattle folk, Damien Jurado, was there with his sons.On Wednesday, we caught the number 48 by the house and rode it crosstown (Montlake, University District, Ravenna, Greenlake, Greenwood) to Loyal Heights. I’d forgotten how soaringly steep the stairs are which link the bluff-top with the park far below. Not to give the impression I’m a teetotaler (i’m not) but I continue to be caught a little off-guard at the evolving etiquette in Seattle public parks…… bros and their babes chugging beers on the beach in broad daylight, 24 packs warming in the sand, jokey-peeing in the water, twentysomethings toking at water’s edge. I asked a friend if times are changing and she rolled her eyes at me and an insinuation was made that I’m getting old. Golden Gardens, you idiot. At any rate, the presence of these activities did not impair our enjoyment of the beach. The boys were wild in and out of the water, Oliver’s piercing screams of delight may have altered a few minds. And I’m sure he must’ve peed in the water. It was a very nice night featuring the Olympic Mountains, bikinis, sailboats, and comic relief by the boys. Anyone who passed by our quadrant of the beach had their feet tenderly rinsed by Oliver Fern (the healing salt waters of Puget Sound) out of a plastic Mountain Dew bottle cap, including the winsome lady with a Canon who took pictures of the boys over the course of a couple hours. The boys’ mom picked us up during the Wheel of Fortune time slot, they ate dinner in the car on the way home (pizza and chocolate chip cookies) since there was no parking to be had in the approximately thousand acres of concrete stretching from Shilshole to Shoreline.
To Golden Gardens again on Thursday afternoon, via the number 48. The house stayed surprisingly cool past lunchtime so that when we stepped onto the porch for the steep uphill walk to the bus stop, the ninety-four degrees felt like getting a little too close to the campfire and the air conditioning on the bus was not working too well. It was a long ride. On the way down the bluff from Loyal Heights, Adam was over the moon after finding star-shaped sunglasses and Magic:The Gathering playing cards scattered from the bench at the top of the bluff all the way down to the railroad tunnel. Also, a lime-green Lego. The beach was predictably more crowded. We carved out a nook with our sand shovel next to a younger group with Rainier beer and an elaborate nickel-plated hookah set-up. I spent most of my time in the beach chair with my feet in the water, leaping upward in shock a handful of times at the cold seawater skimming under my fanny (i found it difficult to predict the wakes of distant passing container ships). The people-watching was satisfying as ever. The boys had a tonnage of fun.
We caught an earlier 48 on Friday but our plan was derailed by two openings in a row of the Montlake Bridge. The Ship Canal was jammed with pleasure boats in a hurry to claim their spot on Lake Washington for the last weekend of Seafair. Fortunately for us, the air conditioning on the bus was working unusually well at full blast. On the way down the stairs from Loyal Heights, we met one of Adam’s classmates (and her little brother and father). Her father published a haunting memoir this winter and when I see him walking around the neighborhood, which is oddly quite often, I feel like a voyeur on the lam. At any rate, once again the boys and I lost track of time on the beach until the shivers came on. Puget Sound is cold even on the hottest days. Adam wanted the entire family to ride the 48 over to Golden Gardens on Saturday but I had enough flowing beer, stereo speakers and macho dogs to last me for the rest of the summer so we headed down to Mount Baker for the next worst thing, Seafair. We had a fun day watching (and listening to) the jets and hydroplane boat races. For most of the time, the boys waded in Lake Washington while their mother and i lay in the grass and talked about the future, pausing for stilted contemplation during the loudest jet engine shrieking. Later in the day, Oliver Fern almost fell asleep in the nook of my arm during an exciting run by Jean Theoret, who nevertheless fell to J. Michael Kelly in the Graham Trucking I. Adam snuggled tiredly in the crook of my other arm. Most of the time I had no idea what in the hell was happening in the boat races, they go around and around with no apparent rhyme or reason and stop by the docks seemingly in no big hurry and then go back out to race some more. Everyone sitting around us was rapt with attention and I felt like it was grade school all over again and I’m the only one who doesn’t understand roman numerals. But I was ridiculously comfortable laying there in the shade with my boys and we had an unbeatable view of the lake and mountains while engaging effortlessly in an important Seattle rite of passage. All the same, my quota hours of attendance at large-scale community festivals in hot scorching weather for the summer have been met in full.