52 WoLP: #49-52, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everbody

Early this pre-sunrise Christmas morning, we headed out into the park for a super quiet, super peaceful walk. We’d planned on parking ourselves at the top of the rise overlooking the Salish, watching the slow holiday ferries glide across the water, listening for the first birds, waiting for the chill winter sun to make a showing.

Instead, I got a hankering for a particular grove of sequoias that reach up so high they look endless. Lean yourself right up against one sometime and look up–squirrel’s eye view, you might say–and you’ll see what I mean. The trunk goes straight up into the sky, branches like a thousand spokes radiating out. It’s breathtaking, awe inspiring.

The sun came up slowly, fog hanging low, apricot puffs of clouds overhead and the whole hood just as quiet as could be. We’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. May we treasure it, care for it, and protect it for all who seek its tranquility and beauty. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!

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52 WoLP has been a year long meditation and love letter to Lincoln Park here in wonderful West Seattle. Xoxo

52 WoLP #48: thoughts on nature in our parks by Denise Dahn

Denise Dahn artist, writer, and voice for urban nature has written an excellent and well-trafficked opinion piece in the Seattle TimesThe urban wild needs protection in Seattle parks. In it, she wisely suggests it’s time for the city to step and take a stand:

Seattle City Council should create an urban wild ordinance to permanently fund and protect natural areas in Seattle parks. The areas should be managed specifically for ecological processes — wildlife habitat, soils, water — but also to preserve an essential experience for people: the magic of the urban wild.

Anyone who has taken a walk through our forested parks knows why Dahn would suggest this: encroaching noise, off leash dogs, mountain bikes tearing up the trails. But what you may not know is this:

…most of us know that meaningful contact with nature tends to be slow, quiet and reflective. It’s easier on the nature, too. A Parks Legacy Plan survey found most people, 78 percent, use parks for simple walking….

Those of is who love our parks as a refuge know this is true, and that a simple 15 minute walk in nature can restore and revive a soul like nothing else. The vast majority of park lovers out there who do not know what they have, and will not know until they lose it, also need to step up and become aware of what’s at risk. Losing urban nature such as we have in Lincoln, Schmitz and many other seattle parks, would be a major impact on the character and legacy of Seattle itself.

One of the most significant and costly threats to park nature is recreational development. Dahn sites an interesting comparison:

We also pay heavily for recreational interests. Developed parkland is much more expensive to maintain than natural areas. Unlike Portland, where 70 percent of total parkland is left natural, Seattle is just the opposite: Eighty-six percent of our parkland is developed or landscaped. Only 14 percent is natural.

It’s a great essay, do check it out here

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year-long homage to my lovely neighbor and friend LP. Xoxo

52 WoLP #46-47: things happen in nature

An amazing poem about another Park or maybe all parks everywhere, and all of us who visit them.

In the Park
By Maxime Kumin

You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you’re a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
–you won’t know till you get there which to do.

He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything. I could feel his heart
beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.

I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels. Certain
animals converse with humans.
It’s a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven’s an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there is a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,

and no choosing what to come back as.
When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.

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52 WoLP is a year long witness of the lovely Lincoln Park in West Seattle. enjoy!

52 WoLP #44-45: early morning quiet

Recently I’ve had a few chances to head out for the park with in the early early morning with a thermos of sweet tea, bundled in a coat to watch and listen as the new day begins. I wait for the first birds, the soft light of sunrise spreading across the water, the sound of the tide coming in..it’s a gorgeous way to start the day.

A quote for your enjoyment:

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
― Terry Tempest Williams

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park (52 WoLP) is a year long visit with a beautiful place. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #39-43: to be among trees

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When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
epecially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “it’s simple,” they say,
“And you have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

From The Thirst by Mary Oliver

52 WoLP #36-38: like catching up with an old friend

I’ll keep this brief, cuz summer isn’t over…yet. The Autumnal Equinox officially happens at 1:44 pm, September 22nd, and that marks the end, officially. I have a feeling we will be having many more glorious days before the sun slips too far to the south, and mega-doses of Vitamin are once again called for.

Until then, I am once again being drawn to Lincoln Park for morning runs and late afternoon strolls. And it’s like catching up with and old friend–the mornings are quiet and a little chillier, the paths are empty of playing and picnicking hordes, there are only a dozen fisher-peeps out at the point, the beautiful Colman Pool is shuttered for the season. As I run along the waterfront, there’s a palpable ease in quiet of the park.

One thing I’ve enjoyed a lot this summer is the big rock on the north side of the point, the one that has the stick sculpture on it. Now it has a bit of graffiti, but that doesn’t impact its message one whit–nor has the occasional dismantling or removal. It keeps coming back, again and again, and it seems like the enduring message of the park itself:

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52 WoLP is the chronicle of a year long love affair with Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Enjoy!

52 WoLP: #33-35: hot town, summer in the city….

A long time ago, eons it seems, I started blogging. It was great, the whole brave new world of Web 2.0 (sounds so antiquated now) was exciting. A little later I started playing around with Flickr, then Facebook, then twitter, then tumblr, then….well, then I started feeling a teensy bit addicted to the constant connection.

What has that got to do with Lincoln Park in West Seattle, you might wonder….good question. In the past couple of years, I’ve tried to stay offline for longer chunks of time now and again. Usually when I find myself mindlessly posting and surfing.

I’m feeling a little bit encouraged that others might be going offline when I see how traffic has dropped on all the usual haunts. This has happened every summer for the last few years, and this year seems to be a banner year for disconnecting. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Internet machine is cool; I just also think summer is pretty hot, as in awesome,and we should all go where the energy is.

So….I don’t have a lot to say about Lincoln Park because I’m actually out playing in Lincoln Park…and various other parks, campgrounds, lakes, beaches, hiking trails, etc etc. And I pointedly have avoided posting, tweeting, uploading, commenting, or sharing online about most of it.

The fact is we are having the best summer in anyone’s memory up here in Seattle, and I as well as everyone I know can’t get enough of it. So much goodness, I’m starting to feel a little tuckered out by it all, but that won’t stop me from going full throttle till the rains come.

So my project, 52 Weeks of Lincoln Park, has taken a wee hit this summer, but it’s all good, it’s for the best possible reasons: summer this year is drop dead gorgeous.

I’ll close with a few things I’ve noticed and loved in the park the past couple of weeks: how the setting sun hits the coppery bark of the madrones; how everyone and their brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, seals, osprey, and eagles are out at the point fishing; how the leaves fall on the surface of the Colman pool as you swim down the lane, letting you know in the most poetic way what time of year it is; how the trails are dusty like they get after a season of hard play and warm temps.

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So, till the rains start, you’ll find me outside loving every last minute of this fabulous summer.

Enjoy!

WoLP #30-32: everywhere but here

So, the summer schedule continues in high gear, and I feel as though I’ve been everywhere but here–not complaining, it’s been a most lovely summer, but I do miss my Lincoln Park.

This past weekend they had runs and events that either started or finished in the park, leading me to wonder if last year’s genius idea of spray painting arrows and such on trees would be repeated this year. I’m so so so happy to report: as far as I can see after one walk through, it has not.

In fact, a run along the waterfront was bolstered with lots of arrows and encouraging words in CHALK on the asphalt–well done! That’ll wash off easily, no harm, and lots of enthusiasm shared.

A few new permanent signs in the park include arrows and the universal swim-unit giving info on how to get to the Colman pool, easy path, harder path. I had mixed feelings about them cuz I sorta like the pool’s uneasy access, but hey, people do get lost looking for it now and then.

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It was a lovely walk through the park, we are so lucky to live near such a beautiful place–the madrones, the huge maples and towering pines and cedars, gorgeous sunsets and salt scented air.

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long romance with the Gem of West Seattle. PS, I think I have the weeks off and we’re actually at week 32 or 33 but hey, what’s a week or two amongst good friends. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #28-29: from a different perspective

Alrighty then: the past two weeks I haven’t been in LP at all. Maybe a sunset walk or two, but that’s it. Instead, I’ve been in the University hood, mainly Magnuson Park, and second to that, Ravenna Park.. And I gotta tell ya, those are some awesomely awesome parks. Seattlites are so lucky to have some great parks to choose from.

A notable thing in Magnuson Park was the interest in and support of migratory and resident bird populations, right alongside all your standard recreation facilities. I wish, oh how I wish, seattle Parks would share some of that love with Lincoln Park.

One example was so easy, I imagine citizen birders could do this themselves: a simple sign at the edge of a field with clusters of branches forming a visual barrier, letting people (especially those with dogs) know that even though this field looks empty, there is nesting going on in the spring. Will it stop all four and two legged onslaughts? Probably not, but it will inform a percentage that might not otherwise know…

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The next cool thing I came across was an impressive interpretative installation telling about the resident and migratory birds of Magnuson –well done and interesting. I’d love love love! To see something like that in LP.

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I so enjoyed these parks, Ravenna with its most excellent system of trails, and Magnuson with its mix of recreational and environmentally minded activities and installations. Lucky us, and one of these days, maybe we’ll have something similar in Lincoln Park–we’ve got excellent trails and lots of recreational options. Maybe it’s time for the birds?

52 WoLP is the chronicle of a year long love affair with Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #27: it’s that time again

Oh dear, it happened again. The week totally got away from me…here goes, better late than never.

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It’s that time of year when large herds of running youth thunder through the park, in some semblance cross-country tracks. As a runner myself, I’ve been impacted by a certain assumption that everyone and everything will make way for the herd, but that’s a temporary annoyance.

What’s not temporary, and what just showed up last year in all its garish and unlovely splendor, is spray painted signage. You’ve seen it: the neon orange and yellow arrows sprayed directly on trees, the exposed roots of trees sprayed with cautionary intent (begs the very question of cross-country, but hey).

It’s ugly, thoughtless, and lasts a long time. I’m pretty sure the people who do it aren’t even conscious of what they’re doing, so I suggesting if you see this happening, you go ahead and suggest to them that they spray paint a piece of paper and tack that to the tree. And then remove it after the event.

Easy peasy. We can help keep this stuff off our beautiful trees. After all, friends don’t let friends use neon spray paint in the park. Or anywhere else, IMO, but that another issue.

Thanks and see you out there!
52 WoLP is a years long jaunt through the loveliest of lovely parks here in lovely West Seattle!

52 WoLP #26: a Green Partnership

Well, glory be! another week totally got away from me. Such is life in the summer when being online gets demoted in favor of a zillion outdoor things.
Still, something came across the reader-board this week, before the bombs-bursting-in-air re-enactment took place in Lincoln Park and elsewhere: Green Seattle Partnership.

What they do is interesting, and involves a lot of our urban population that might not otherwise have an opportunity to interact with or basically give a second thought to our urban forests, such as Lincoln Park. Part of their purpose goes like this:

Now many of those big trees are nearing the end of their natural life, and the ivy – like a disease taking advantage of a frail, elderly individual – may speed the decline. The ivy is an invasive plant and over time it will kill the tree. It robs the tree of nutrients and creates the “sail” effect – high winds in the winter months can be caught by the ivy, helping to pull the tree over.

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To accomplish this humongous task, Green Seattle counts on lots of our help. Alas, sometimes that help is a little clumsier than nesting birds and other creatures might want, but the end goal of replacing an aging canopy with new life is pretty awesome. In LP, they’ve planted what could amount to a new generation of someday-mighty-trees. Involving our very urban population in the endeavor has many benefits down the road. All in all, Green Seattle is something to crow about.

52 WoLP is a year long contemplation of one of the loveliest city parks in the world, Lincoln Park in beautiful West Seattle.

52 WoLP #25: Big Sky

This week the skies over Lincoln Park have been particularly spectacular, as storms rolled in and out, drenching rains, thunder, a bit of lightening and a particularly auspicious sky the evening before the historic announcement from the Supremes….Beautiful!

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52 WoLP #24: we live in a forest!

Eek. It’s that busy time of the year, and the week got away from me. But! I read about something recently and it’s been on my mind. Seattle was chosen to be part of a book on urban forests around the country, and while the working definition of urban forest might be evolving (I’m not sure the number of trees on streets makes me think urban forest, but hey.), at least the concept is gaining momentum nationally, and that’s excellent.

So, we live in an urban forest here in Seattle. It’s seen more forest-y days, but a strong initiative started in the 90s, picked up steam under Mayor Nickels in 2004 with the Seattle Green Initiative, and is now well under way and receiving good attention, most recently in the award winning book, Urban Forest: Case Studies. The Seattle study is here.

The write up is online, so maybe check it out, and the next time you’re strolling through Lincoln Park, give those trees some love.

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52WoLP is a year long love fest on our most beautiful Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #23: what we talk about when we talk about sharing the Park

A couple of things while walking through Lincoln Park this week, and they both have to do with sharing. West Seattle has more people in it than ever before, and that means Lincoln Park does too. By a mile.

We share the park with each other, which sometimes requires grace and skill, and we share the park with creatures, which always requires TLC and respect.

The first story involves a sea otter–did you know we have them? They’re interesting creatures: live in the water, hang out on the shore rocks sometimes, and make their homes on terra firma, in the bushes or under structures, etc. The one I saw this week, and who is making regular appearances down at the water’s edge, was finishing up dinner and just chillin on the beach. At the same time, a large group of elementary age kids was rambunctiously making its way up the walkway.

The kids and teachers stopped to watch the otter, along with the rest of us. Then a couple of the girls edged closer and closer until finally they chased the otter back into the water. I mentioned to one of the adults that that was actually illegal, it’s against the law to harass marine mammals on shore, and she shrugged as if the kids were making the rules now.

I don’t want to get all in the teacher’s biz, but wasn’t that, oh I don’t know, a LEARNING OPPORTUNITY? . Yeah, I think it was. The kids need to learn we share the park. We share nature. We don’t own it.

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The next opportunity came just yesterday when I was walking down the center trail to the shore at sunset–a little dusky, a beautiful evening. I hear voices behind me, yelling back and forth, approaching quickly. Before I have a chance to turn and look, three cyclists come racing by at full speed, downhill, about two inches of margin between them and me. Then another. And another, and yes, several more. I finally stop and look behind me and there are even more barreling down the trail. I ask how many more, and someone says, a lot! I’d say there were about 30 twenty-somethings in all.

So I step back onto the trail and let them know I’m going to keep walking and they need to slow down for pedestrians, which they immediately do and I give them full credit for that. They’re just having fun, and I understand the allure of that trail, I’m a bike rider and live for the downhill. But at one point I was nearly nailed against a tree by a guy who didn’t know the trail tightens up at one turn and then another.

Again, they need to balance their fun with the rights of others on the trail to feel and be safe, not to mention the creatures that cross the trail all the time. I never thought I’d say this to bike people, but that gang needs to share the road better.

So, the park is busy. We all love it. So, in the immortal words of Sgt. Esterhaus, hey, let’s be careful out there.

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52 WoLP is a year long dear diary to my favorite park in Seattle. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #22: 50 Shades of Green

This time of year, the color green just knocks me out. You might look at Lincoln Park and think, wow, lotsa green. But there are so many greens, if you really look. One of my favorite places to walk this time of year is the middle path down to the Colman Pool–look up halfway down, you’ll be amazed at the canopy and the dappled light.

So green. Just when you think you know what color green is, you get about a zillion other layers and versions up close and personal. From blue to purple to yellow to reddish green, it’s all in Lincoln Park right now. Hang out for minute, you won’t be disappointed.

52WoLP is a year long fascination with the Gem of West Seattle, Lincoln Park. Enjoy!