Seattle in the Springtime
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Photos and experiences from Whidbey Island, Discovery Park, Gas Works Park, Woodland Park,Deception Pass, Anacortes and Golden Gardens Park.
Something I wrote while there:
It sounds like wind, no matter where you go.
It's whipping and whirring through the leaves, building at a distance. It grows, becoming one huge gust, yet it still passes through the spaces between each leaf individually. Some leaves fall, and some leaves stay. Pink, flowering petals flitter away.
From a distance, you might not know that what you're hearing is the wind. It sounds like ruffled papers or a conversation you can't quite make out. Something you're not supposed to hear. What are the trees saying that they don't want us to know?
The birds must have the knowledge - they flitter and flutter and tweet and chirp. Bouncing from one branch to the next. Throaty caws ring out from the crows. A distant siren is carried through the wind. Bells chime, shingles lift, the recycling bin's open lid flaps against the side.
No matter where I walk, leaves tumble across the sidewalk ahead of me. Crossing the road, falling from trees, gathering at the sides where the dewy grass meets the pavement. Electric cars hum, tires make smacking and clacking noises during the turns.
The sun peeks out from the clouds. Back and forth, back and forth. Like playing peek-a-boo with a child. First she's out, then she hides. For a moment, the sky drips tiny drops, but then it stops. She's out again, and so are we.
The suburbia streets in Fremont are suddenly bustling - the sidewalks are filled with small kids with large backpacks, remote workers going on their afternoon walks, heading to the cafe for a pick-me-up. Dogs trot across the street, their owners hold their leash, their phone and a coffee between their two hands.
Pink petals and yellow-green plants and leaves the color of the forest go by them in a blur. The trees stretch tall above their heads, branches interlocking their fingers. The wind blows and the trees yawn, stretching their limbs and swaying with the breeze. They bend and flail, trusting the wind to hold them up. They're so straight, yet so elastic. Flexibility never hurts.
Moss grows on every surface it can here - even stoops on the corner of the road cannot stay unadorned. It grows up the vertical side of the garage, along the retaining wall and on every other step of the outdoor stairs. It's soft to the touch, but it must be so strong. Resilient, like everything else here. I'm reminded while running my fingers against it that growth happens everywhere here, even in the most unlikely of places.
And then there's the pine needles.
At one park, there were Douglas firs, white spruces and Western hemlocks looming over us and we stomped through tall grasses to find the path. Stopping to smell the flowers, look at the colors, marvel at the perfect unison of it all. My friend stops at the tree, grabs the needles, rips them apart with her nail and hands them to me.
"Smell them! Every area has its own flavor!"
It's sweet and tangy, citrusy and bright. Some are minty and clean. Another is sharp, fruity, and strong. Another is musky, heavy, deep. It's invigorating, rejuvenating, cleansing, and then it is gone.
I stuffed pine needles in my pockets, hoping to take the smell home with me. I sniffed pines everywhere I went - jotting down the first words that came to my head. But within hours, it's gone. No matter what part of the state they're from. The goodness seeps out, and you can't replicate the scent based on memory. Even the most natural candle could never. It must be appreciated when it's there, when you're there. It must happen in the present - some things simply cannot be preserved.
(The smell is from terpenes - go down the rabbit hole with me here and here.)
It's just the water here, something about it. The stillness of it. I love the waves, grew up loving the beach, but the cold, untouchable lakes here seem to force me inward to myself. I catch my reflection as we look off of the dock. Ripples form, a rock skips across. Tiny waves kiss the shore, leaving behind the most perfect sound of the water settling between the smooth stones.
Spring anywhere might remind me of growth, but nowhere is it so blatant about it as Seattle.
Maybe it was the perfect time of year, or maybe I was just in the perfect state of mind. I couldn't not see the growth. I couldn't not smell the flowers. Couldn't not strain my eyes to see her, Mt. Rainier, peeking out from a distance. Standing tall.
The first flowers I've smelled all year, I smelled here. Finally, winter is over.