Waterfront Walks in Washington State

Liberty Bay, Poulsbo, WA

Liberty Bay, Poulsbo, WA

As I wrote recently, spring came earlier to Washington State this year than to Missouri. During my recent trip west, I spent two pleasant afternoons walking along waterfronts in Washington.

The first was on a boardwalk on Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, Washington. I had a little time to kill, and needed to work off a lunch of fish and chips.

Liberty Bay is an arm of Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula side. Tucked in behind Bainbridge Island, the bay is sheltered and almost always calm. It has tides, but no surf. At low tide the tip of the bay is a mud flat, but at high tide the water is clear as a mountain lake.

My parents have seen orcas in Liberty Bay, but the biggest wildlife I saw on my visit was a seal swimming amidst the cormorants in the marina. Unfortunately, my photograph did not show the seal’s head well enough to post for readers.

Seattle skyline, from Alki Beach Park

The Space Needle, as seen from Alki Beach Park in Seattle

My second walk along the water was at Alki Beach Park at the tip of Elliott Bay near downtown Seattle. Seattle is a port city, and ferries are a major means of transportation in the area, so many people spend a lot of time on or near the water. Nevertheless, it is hard to speak of Seattle and beaches in the same sentence, because the weather is cool and grey so much of the time.

But I was blessed with a sunny afternoon, cool and breezy, but bright enough that I wished I had a wide-brimmed hat with me. I was bundled from wrist to ankle in several layers, though some Seattleites thought it was warm enough for shorts.

Alki Point is Seattle’s best approximation of a beach resort. I walked along the path above the rocky beach (though allegedly at low tide there is sand on the beach) and admired the skyline across the water—as pleasant an afternoon as on any beach in California, albeit not as warm.

This time, I ate my fish and chips after the walk.

Lake Washington, from Madison Park at dusk, Seattle, WA

Lake Washington, from Madison Park at dusk, Seattle, WA

Later in the day, I also walked in some lovely parks on Lake Washington, a fresh water lake on the western side of Seattle.

None of my Washington waterfront walks were as warm nor as wild as what I encountered on my Florida trip. But they still count as days on the beach and add to my measure of a good year.

What experiences are making 2014 memorable for you?

Is Life a Beach or Not?

John D.  MacArthur Beach State Park, Florida

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, Florida

I’ve written before how much I love the ocean and how I count a year as good if I get to spend time on the beach. By that reckoning, 2014 should be shaping up to be a good one.

I spent a day in late February basking in 80 degree sunshine on the beach at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in Florida.

Mangrove roots in Biscayne National Park

Mangrove roots in Biscayne National Park

On our trip, my husband and I also watched pelicans as we ate conch fritters on Alabama Jack’s restaurant deck on our way north from Key Largo, canoed through mangroves at Biscayne National Park, and viewed Biscayne Bay from the Viscaya Museum & Gardens in Miami.

Viscaya Museum & Gardens, Miami

Viscaya Museum & Gardens, Miami

I wore shorts and t-shirts and sandals. No socks from the time I got off the airplane until the morning we headed home.

It was a good week. I shucked off the miasma of winter I’d been accruing since November.

Then we returned to winter in Kansas City. We froze as we stood outside the airport waiting for a taxi.

And less than a week after our return from Florida, we shoveled four inches of sleet and snow in single-digit temperatures with wind chills well below zero. The thermometer hit record lows for March.

Husband running snowblower in frigid cold and wind

Husband running snowblower in frigid cold and wind

If winter lasts much longer, maybe 2014 won’t be such a good year. My mood changes with the sunlight and temperature.

Spring has to come sometime, I tell myself every day. But I doubt even that truism, when the clouds loom low overhead and the wind slices through my heaviest coat.

By the time you read this post, maybe the latest polar vortex will have receded back to Canada. But I don’t think I’ll feel Florida’s warmth any time soon, except in my memories and photographs.

Still, spring has to come sometime. Doesn’t it?

How are you coping with our lengthy winter this year?

Spring Has Sprung. Maybe. Finally. Again.

IMAG0665Forsythia have always signaled spring to me. Yellow is not my favorite color, but the appearance of these cheery flowers on the dead branches of winter brightens my mood. Every year, whenever they choose to appear.

This year, the forsythia did not appear until April. Some years I see them in February.

That’s the way this year has gone. The winter started slow, but built up a punch. Big snowstorms into March. We even had flakes in April in Kansas City, and blizzards continued in the upper Midwest and in the Mountain States. We smiled at each day of warmth, but then were disappointed when the day was followed by another week of cold.

Perhaps it’s my mood. Illness. Injury. Loss. As each snowstorm and cold front delayed my spring, so did each calamity.

This year, each warm day has given rise to only tentative hope. Is spring here? Maybe. Will it last? Who knows?

But last week, the forsythia did appear. Finally.

So did the magnolia blossoms.

IMAG0664

There were no magnolia trees in the desert country where I grew up. When I learned they grew in Kansas City, I demanded one for our front yard. I see it and think of Southern indulgence – Scarlett O’Hara, horse races, and mint juleps on the porch. I may have been working a demanding job and raising pre-schoolers in the year we planted the tree, but I could dream of an easier life.

Of course, my visions of an ideal life were and are only a dream. I’ve never had a mint julep, never been to a horse race. And many years, a January warm spell tricks the magnolia into a single day of beauteous blooms that ice kills the next day.

But last week, the magnolia sprang forth. The flowers lasted through a heavy rainstorm and a few flakes of late snow. As I write, I see them waving in the breeze out the window in front of my laptop.

Spring has sprung. Again. As it does each year, whether early or late. Whether we’ve been waiting, or are surprised by its suddenness.

As it was, is now, and ever will be.