Tag Archives: urban sanctuary

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

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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 #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 #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 #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!

52 WoLP #21: Love your local naturalists

Lincoln Park naturalists

Love your naturalists–they’re here for us in the park today!

Today, Saturday, there are two naturalists present in the park–not at the beach for the low tides, but the park.  It’s a very nice surprise, stop if you get a chance; they’re at the top of the trail down to Colman Pool, a gorgeous trail I think of as the The Cathedral because of the soaring canopy of trees with dappled light filtering down the hillside.

They coordinate with the Parks dept. and set up visitor tables in several parks throughout the summer.  Today they have their spotting scope set to the eagles, but they’ve got a lot of information (including specimens, sort of gross/fascinating) about big and small birds that live in the park.  Anyway, I love seeing ranger type uniforms in the park, check it out, take your kids.  Also!  OMG, the songbirds in the park right now are unbelievably active, the understory is hopping with proud parents and music fills the air.  It’s a really superb day to wander through Lincoln Park.52 WoLP is a year long diary of a love affair with Lincoln Park.  Enjoy!

52WoLP #20: Opening Day!!!

For lots of swimmers in West Seattle and beyond, today is the first day of Swimming Season at the Colman Pool.  The Colman Pool, a saltwater outdoor pool, first opened in 1941, replacing a man-made tide filled swimming hole that  had been popular since the 20s. The Colman Pool, made possible by a very generous donation by the Colman family, has long been a favorite spot for swimmers, sunbathers and families all summer long. Here are a couple of snaps, then and now.

Enjoy!  52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long observation of the many aspects of Lincoln Park, the gem of West Seattle.

52WoLP #18: Sometimes rules suck, but dogs will be dogs

Sometimes rules suck, right?  And sometimes you just want to do what you want to do, regardless of others. But we live in a big city, with more people and more dogs all the time.  Like my Dad said when I threw a candy wrapper on the ground, what if everyone did that?

It’s a very valid question.

The dog rules are there because we live in a city with a lot of other people and because this park has wild and cultivated areas–areas we pay tax money to protect.

There’s the pick-up-after-your-dog rule, and people seem pretty much okay with that one.  Then there’s the no-off-leash-dogs thing, and the majority of dog walkers seem okay with that one.  After all, it’s not an off-leash park, it’s an everyone + wildlife park.  And then there’s the no-dogs-allowed part and I gotta say, this last one gets almost no attention at all.  There really are–no really— parts in the park where dogs aren’t allowed at all: the beach and the playfields.

These rules that for some impinge on the god-given rights of dogs to be dogs really upset some people.  A lot.  I sort of understand.  You come home from work, the dog is crazy to run…what are you going to do?

Here’s the deal behind the rules: there are way more dogs and people using the park than ever before.  Way more.  We share the beach with creatures that need it for nesting and life itself.  Dogs will always be dogs on the beach and will always have a hard time resisting the urge to go after that wildlife.  (full disclosure: I like dogs. A lot.)

The other one, playfields: the ballfields are pretty carefully maintained and protected for a specific purpose: ball games.  Dogs running, chasing, digging, and doing the things dogs do (pun intended) flies in the face of the tax-money you are paying to maintain that field.  Do us all a favor and keep your dogs off the playfields.

The park really and truly is a space we all share.  Runners and walkers who frequently prove an irresistible target for even the sweetest dogs; birds and creatures who provide the feeling of getting-away-from-it-all and sing those gorgeous songs that lift our hearts–they make their nests in those bushes where some people throw balls for their dogs to chase;  baby seals and ducks and grebes who need the habitat our beautiful beaches provide.

We all share this park.  There are dozens of offleash parks in the city.  Be a citizen dog-owner, do the right thing, we will all love you for it.

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long exploration and adoration of the loveliest gem of West Seattle.  Enjoy!

52WoLP #17: the first ever Celebrate LP & our keep-you-guessing weather

Well, last saturday at this time, the overnight temps were in the upper 30s and the day never cracked 50. Chilly winds, grey skies, threatening clouds all conspired to reduce the crowds to only the toughest souls at our first ever Celebrate Lincoln Park.

Enjoy!

52WoLP is a year long exploration of and fascination with all things Lincoln Park, West Seattle.

This saturday, a mere 7 days later, windows and doors will be propped open, temps will be 25 degrees or more higher, and we’ll all be out in droves.

But the show went on, and it was pretty cool.  We even had Park Rangers there in full regalia and I sort of felt like we were at a campground at some National Park, I loved it!

The Alliance for Lincoln Park Nature, ALPN, was there with nature and bird walks, art-in-the park table for water color sketching and writing.  We had a lot of fun with both the sketching and the writing–fast writing exercises on various park-related prompts, and there’s just nothing like sketching to see where you are.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Here are a coupla pics:

52WoLP #15: let us count the ways (Tuesday 4/23 and Saturday 4/27)

Backlit driftwood sculpture /Lincoln Park, by Sky Darwin

Backlit driftwood sculpture /Lincoln Park, by Sky Darwin

There’s the beach, and it asks a thing or two from you, like a bit of a hike, like a little bit of care at low tide, but in return, it gives plenty.  It’s a northwest beach, trees and stunning views, rocky and diverse–none of this namby-pamby white sand nonsense. It’s a sturdy beach, home to seals, urchins, clams, starfish, water birds and more;  inspiration to artists, sculptors and enlivened imaginations everywhere.

one of the playgrounds in LP

one of the playgrounds in LP

There are the playgrounds and ballfields, areas where families and kids and fans and athletes get to play in a setting that juts up against forest and just enough wildness to make the senses sit up and take notice.  The walk back to the car after a tournament or play date involves a stroll through shaded rambling paths, a chance to be in nature, to restore, relax, revive.

Checking out possible new digs

Checking out possible new digs

There are the forests themselves, some old growth, all holding the park together in living system that is rare in an urban setting–a gem indeed, and a treasure for us to enjoy.  The forests are home to birds and nests big and small, to squirrels, coyote and fox, flowers in every season, ancient sequoia and doug fir, hillsides of maple all brilliant green in the spring light.  So much goodness!

Colman Pool in the summertime!

Colman Pool in the summertime!

There’s the pool.  The Colman Pool.  Salt water, beautiful turquoise glinting in the summer light, the Olympics to the west, forested hillsides to the east, it is a seasonal treat beyond compare.

Seattle's urban forests make the cut!

Seattle’s urban forests make the cut!

History!  We have History, and tons of it, and we’re in the process of making more!  For example, did you know that Seattle ranks in the top 10 Cities for Urban Forests, along with–check it out!–New York, Austin, Denver, and other great urban centers–go read the article here.  This is our next frontier: holding onto, preserving and protecting what is truly unique in an urban setting. Let’s make some more history, let’s keep LP wild!

Oh, I could go on and on.  I could.  But instead, why not come out to Celebrate Lincoln Park hosted by the FCA at the Fauntleroy Community Center this coming Tuesday, April 23rd, and then again in LP itself, for all kinds of fun, creative, park-loving, beach playing ways to be in Lincoln Park.  Come on down!

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long project chronicling and loving the seasons of LP in beautiful West Seattle.

52 WoLP #13: Curvy is better than straight

It’s been rainy, and it’s muddy, but that also means water in the Lincoln Park stream, and water in the stream means runoff for the waterfall.  What waterfall?

Sometimes, since a lot of people visit LP in the summer, they don’t get to see the waterfall in action. Some don’t even know it’s a waterfall, or that there’s a stream.  But there is, it goes through the park and ends up at the beach.  Here’s a map, and the back-story of the falls right after:

Here's a sketchy map of LP and the stream

Here’s a sketchy map of LP and the stream

The back story: back when the WPA was doing all kinds of things in LP, they made the excellent steps and stairways from the beach to the park, except one of those walkways crossed a runoff zone from the stream.  No problem, they’d just turn that runoff zone into a pretty waterfall and direct it under the walkway:

The original went cascading pretty much straight down the hillside

The original went cascading pretty much straight down the hillside

If you’ve ever seen the waterfall at full throttle in the winter, the original plan which had the stream running nearly straight down into a catch didn’t have a chance–a lot of water comes down during the rains and anyway, nature doesn’t play nice with straight lines, so either by its own design, or with the help of a few folks along the way, the waterfall achieved a nice curvy and cantilevered path with a better runway…although it still runs over the path in big rains, and makes a beautiful sound as it cascades down the incline.

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long project exploring this West Seattle Gem. Enjoy!!

 

52WoLP #12: zippity do-dah!

I’ve been hearing it while out in the garden, and now that we have the windows open on warmer days, I’m hearing it in the afternoon and even well past dusk: zzzzzzi! frrp! zahhh….

There’s no way I can do justice to the sound of the old fashioned zip swing in Lincoln Park, but it’s as familiar a sound as the ferry horns around here. Sometimes it’s followed by shrieks of delight, which I love. Spring is officially here, and the playground is in full…umm, swing.

During the day you’ll see adults (like me) take advantage of the traffic lull and go for a ride, but on weekends and vacations, that swing has ’em queuing up. It’s one of my favorite sounds and sights of LP, and always, always, makes me smile. What’s yours?

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(I’ve been on a Hockney jag lately and enjoying his enjoyment of digital drawing tools. Having no good pictures of the swing in action–if you’ve got one send it!–I decided to make one of my own:)

52WoLP #11: the secret lives of Lincoln Park (Happy 1st Day of Spring)

There’s the beach trail and the bluff trail; the playgrounds, old fashion zip line, wading pool and picnic shelters; the ball fields and, of course, the Colman pool. These are the places we all know and use and appreciate. There are other places, a little bit secret, not so much for us humans, although we definitely benefit from them.

I was looking at a parks dept map of Lincoln Park the other day and was sort of impressed by the forest areas. Forest. Take a look at the list:

Lincoln Park Forests: particularly H, B, G and J

Lincoln Park Forests: notice particularly H, B, G and J

This is cool, because those areas are part of what makes LP the most excellent park it is. HBG and J are beautiful and sort of urban-wild. There are nicely tended trails through and around them, and at this time of year, those forested areas are extremely active…and their inhabitants particularly vulnerable. Why? Nesting. Lots and lots of nesting going on, nest building and baby making by the ones who sing beautiful songs, flit in and out of trees and bushes and make us feel a little bit more alive and in touch with nature. Here are a few of those creatures, maybe you’ve seen one or two?

And this is just a little tiny smidge of the secret lives happening in LP right now and through Spring/ Summer. So, keep an eye out, take it easy in areas H, B, G and J–we’re just visiting where they live. And many of them live pretty close to the ground, so if you are a dog walker, best to stay on paths, keep your dog on a leash and enjoy the beautiful music of the forests.

**H/t to Trileigh for her bird notes and help
52 Weeks of Lincoln Park, a year long project: #11