We had a string of awfully wet weather last week in Seattle and some of my only pictures were from shelter of the front porch, do those still count? Dunno why but I’ve always had a particular fondness for the perspective across the neighbor’s dormer, the arts-and-crafts rusticity of the architecture is like a portal to those strange times when horses were raced in the Arboretum and a trestle bridge loomed over what is now Washington Park Playfield. When I took this the valley was positively peak for color but that sure changed fast after a woolly night. Still pretty, though.
Speaking of which, last night we went to gather up the pumpkins off the back porch, for carving. They’d been sitting out there for a couple weeks and we discovered the biggest gourd rotted straight through! The stem and crown pulled right off like a prank or Pepsi pull-tab, either way that thing had filled by smooshy osmosis with darn-near three quarts of water but Adam made out all right and enthusiastically carved what was left. Meanwhile, Oliver Fern made his first very own jack o’ lanterns, ever. He did terrific! And tonight he lost his second front baby tooth in five days. He’s going to make a great pirate tomorrow night but it would’ve been better with that one tooth still dangling on, haha!
The boys and I toured the Burke Museum (of Natural History and Culture) for a couple of hours Sunday morning, our first visit since it reopened in the brand new space which is rustic modern on the outside while the inside resembles several intramural racquetball courts stacked on top of each other with floating stairs and towering walls but the museum as a whole is quite impressive, the “public” laboratories are a trend I’m glad the Burke has adopted. There was something unsettling to both Adam and Oliver Fern about touching any number of taxidermied flying squirrels neatly displayed about the table featuring a wide array of sizes and shapes of those soaring, sorta cute critters but no amount of cajoling by the curator could cure their queasiness. On the other hand, they watched rapt with attention through plate glass window as a laboratory preparator concentrated hard on viscera and bone of the Komodo dragon which lay supine on the metal table, having died of old age after residency at the Woodland Park Zoo (that’s one mystery finally solved for the boys, frustrated the past couple years at apparent reptilian aloofness). Particularly appreciated by Oliver Fern this visit was the giant ground sloth fossil which was found during construction of Sea-Tac International Airport (we’ll never look at the B gates the same) and that was just about all she wrote for our terribly aching feet on the marbly cement museum floors.
This scene is from last month when the boys and I spent a Saturday afternoon on the Whulge for a minus tide, it was far quieter than normal here I think maybe because everyone thought it would rain. After mild protesting (from me) instead of the trail to the lighthouse we took the usual shortcut down the south bluff, an extraordinarily steep descent through the forest and the night before it rained quite heavily so the Lawton Clay under our feet gurgled like the Bog of Eternal Stench. The hillside above this beach has become so saturated in places with seeps and rivulets of water that encampments and other grimy lean-tos show evidence of recent abandonment, we would examine the usual moldy sofa cushions, broken poly-vinyl beach chairs and butt-beer cans sitting in the middle of running water. The boys know they would never enter this woods without an adult (whether that risk is greater of being subsumed by the hillside or harassed by someone lurking in the thickets is a measure for some debate). At any rate, the pictures I took this day are brought to mind after our visit to the Burke Museum. It’s here on the Sound where the dilly-dallier can observe one of the region’s preeminent fascinating geologic cross-sections related to the Puget lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet which will among other things, explain why riding a bicycle across the city requires strategic planning or steely determination. These boats and Bainbridge Island (with the Olympic Mountain range shrouded in clouds) looked close enough to touch. We spent several hours whiling away the time and golly did Adam ever find a big kelp crab!
Next weekend the Puget Sound Mycological Society is holding its annual Wild Mushroom Show, one of the largest, most complete exhibitions of mushrooms in the United States. The young fellow who fixed the gas leak last night was coming around the back when he beckoned me with childlike glee, pointing out the colony of fruiting Psilocybe cyanescens in the rust garden which had blended with unkempt surroundings underneath the old folding bicycle.
He possessed such a remarkable scholarly grounding of mycology, expounding with awe upon the wonders of the natural world at length that even this morning do I remain thunderstruck at his uncommon spirit. This kid even had an old world name, he was something special. What a disappointment when a gas leak was reported someplace else in town, just when he was getting down to some really interesting insights. But so it goes for our everyday heroes. This morning I wanted to capture a vantage of that magic colony for you to go with these thoughts but it’s raining quite heavily here in Puget Sound so never mind that.
postscript: During a lull in the raindrops I managed a few exposures. My favorite is looking through the spokes of a junky bike tire, I’ll share that one later!
Yesterday on the way down into the valley for piano before he commenced refinement of that inscrutable classic On Top of Spaghetti Oliver Fern and I made the recovery of one, lost red purse in the middle of the street which fortunately had not been turned into mush by motorists braking for dear life down the Himalayasque hills of our neighborhood. The handbag was weirdly emptyish, smelled a tad gamey so that momentarily I considered that one of the mentally ill persons residing quite difficultly outdoors in the greenspaces which fringe the arboretum, who carry on most tragically, immorally invisible to most anyone, may have dropped it but utilizing our best forensic skills we ascertained it had fallen, bounced as it were from the panniers of someone’s bicycle as they concentrated for the steep descent of the grade and personal photo identification inside (did I not say, our best forensic skills?) confirmed it belonged to a resident whose domicile was located just blocks away. She wasn’t home, we placed a telephone call to her utilizing the contact number from a clutch of business cards contained inside of the handbag (you should have business cards, Papa! Oliver gleefully announced) the numerosity of which seemed to indicate a rather strong demand in the Puget Sound region for those contracting as health and wellness coaches (which sounds suspiciously like shit white people get paid for) so as you can imagine I was filled with a degree of trepidation that in my person she’d see through to any deficiencies in character or nutrition (as there are plenty, I’m afraid) needing to be buffed.
Some time later back at the house a polite and pleasing cadence of knocks at the front door revealed a distinguished, matronly individual with twenty one speed bicycle and brandishing a small, traditional shepherd’s pie as an apparently commensurate purse-finding reward. She had ridden her bike down to the Arboretum and somehow the purse had gone a-flying. As it was pizza night and the shepherd’s pie contained lamb, the boys demurred but I will attest it was quite good.
This outdoor appliance was bequeathed to me several years ago as yet another entirely unnecessary show of appreciation (because after all we just do what we do) this particular occasion by that onetime neighbor across the street, a somewhat irascible fellow by way of New York City whom I came to adore for obstinacy of spirit and occasionally disagreeable but elegantly, steadfastly supported notions of how everything should simply be, so that I was disappointed when he and his better half saw fit to move further atop the hill closer to bustling urbanity because to put a fine point on it they were battling that culture shock of cool Seattle niceness. Once or twice a year we exchange correspondences about getting together for coffee but it just never happens so you could say he has become a truer Seattleite than even he imagines.
At any rate, they moved into a small condominium apartment sans small balcony or patio, as such they had no use of a charcoal grill and really neither did I but this idea had always occurred to me and the beginning of last summer finally saw it into fruition. The hens and chickens might have gotten scorched in their southern exposure come August (not to mention it gets hella hot under that black dome) except we had a relatively mild summer whew! so I think they may be better off in the rust garden out back.