Discovery Park

Oct 5, 2010

The Indian Summer that arrived yesterday continued through today. Not wanting to miss what might be my final chance at lovely weather, I took a bus out to Discovery Park for the afternoon. It was not as enjoyable as it should have been. Everyone and their dog was out and many of the owners regard the park as nothing more than a huge kennel run. The canines are unleashed to sniff around and frolic about. I picked up a long stick to use for walking and self-defense (though it did not come to that). Then there was the poor black rabbit whose tameness clearly suggested it had been abandoned. Less than twenty feet away was a sign prohibiting people from doing just that.

This is a side of do-your-own-thing Seattle that has always troubled me: the disregard for the rules if they in any way impede upon one’s chosen lifestyle. Want to keep a dog in the city? Let it run loose in the parks and ignore the lease law. Tired of caring for that rabbit? Dump it. Like to cycle? Ignore those red lights. And if one were to be so bold as to confront these people, they’d receive an indignant response.

Anyway, entering from the east side of the huge five hundred acre park, I gradually circled around to the old parade grounds. (Much of the area was once the site of Fort Lawton and some military families still reside there.) Just beyond the place where almost a century ago young cadets used to march in formation is a worn, paved road that I like to amble back and forth on. This time I spent a good forty-five minutes, savoring the mellow autumn sun while letting my thoughts meander. The tranquility made it hard to believe I was actually in a bustling metropolitan area of over three million people.

This place has had a few special moments for me such as the time I and a friend took advantage of a rare celestial event to see all five naked eye planets above the western horizon shortly after sundown. Because Discovery Park looks out over Puget Sound towards the Olympic Mountains to the west, there’s not much light pollution in that direction. We were able to locate the quintet of heavenly bodies in the clear evening sky with no trouble. On another occasion, when I was considering returning to Japan to teach English again, a contemplative amble along a deserted path choked with blackberry bushes helped me to realize I’d become ill-suited for that kind work (and that I did not much care for thorns, either). I no longer had the enthusiasm and in fact needed to let go of that rigid country.

For today’s visit, there was no grand revelation awaiting. I didn’t require one. When the time came to return to the hotel, I simply headed down to the South Gate, refreshed. Passing century-old trees, I turned and faced the parade grounds for a last look. I’ve always made a pilgrimage to this park prior to departing on one of my winter trips. I believe at some level it recharges my spirit. Who knows if this will ever happen again?

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