One of the main reasons D. and I chose to retire when we did was to spend more time with family, and this summer was rich with visits and travel, though we haven’t gone far from home. We’ve lived in Tacoma, Washington, for over two years now, and I’ve barely begun to explore the interesting places this area offers. Having guests helps. Have you noticed how often we neglect the tourist attractions in our own home territory until there’s a visitor to share them with?
Our summer actually began in late May, when I popped over to the Bay Area to visit with my mom and daughter. The three of us spent lots of time walking about, and found a path behind the ruins of Sutro Baths that led us to the view above. There’s something soothing about walks in Golden Gate Park, especially when the afternoon fog rolls in a patters my face with tiny kisses. The smell of the pines and eucalyptus trees sings to my heart of home.
Next we gathered with the G. clan near Phoenix for D’s son’s graduation from medical school. We were able to rent a house big enough for the lot of us, and there are a lot of us. The heat was fierce, but spirits were high as we celebrated a new beginning in the lives of M. and his marvelous girlfriend.
Back in Washington, D. and I celebrated our second anniversary at Lake Chelan in central Washington. It was bloody hot, but the views are gorgeous. We’d hoped to rent a canoe or small boat and putter about on the lake, but all we found were Jet Skis and speed boats–not at all conducive to leisurely rides. (There were kayaks too, but I’m allergic to any craft that’s hard to exit in an emergency. The point of a boat is to stay on top of the water, right?) To soothe our disappointment, we visited wineries. Nice.
Back at home, D. and I visited Bremerton and toured the USS Turner Joy, a destroyer-class ship that played an important role in the Vietnam War. We had the great good fortune to meet John F. Keift, author of The Saltiest Ship in the Fleet, who gave us an extensive tour. Keift showed us the control room where the men who controlled the big guns watched radar blips that represented heavily armed Vietnamese fishing vessels zooming toward the ship. He spoke with gravity about pushing the buttons that erased those blips from the radar screen, knowing that each blip represented many lives.
In July, my mother came to Tacoma, where she and I explored every quilt shop we could find. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the art quilt exhibit in the Washington State History Museum, alas. I was expecting quaint bedspreads; instead, we were amazed by the depth, detail, and texture of the artwork on display. There was even a 3-D forest scene sculpted from cloth and fibers.
We also braved the hellish traffic to visit Seattle’s Museum of Asian Art in Volunteer Park. Lovely spot, and Capitol Hill is a lovely neighborhood, with beautifully restored historic homes and mature trees. In fact, a huge branch crashed to the street just outside the Volunteer Cafe, where Mom and I were eating lunch. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but what a shock to come home and find that a third of your tree has fallen into the street, blocking traffic. Anyway, the exhibit was entitled Mood Indigo and featured textiles and clothing from around the world colored with this precious blue.
Shorty after Mom left, my daughter came with her boyfriend. Nerds to the core, they enjoyed the Pokemon hunt at the fairgrounds in Puyallup. The state fair doesn’t open until Labor Day weekend, but the grounds were crawling with people intently staring at their phones–very funny to watch.
A highlight of their visit was Seattle’s Experience Music Project Museum, where we saw sacred relics at the Star Trek exhibit,
and a tower of guitars that plays music for visitors.
You haven’t really experienced Michael Jackson’s Thriller until you see it on the EMP’s ginormous screen. Why was I the only person dancing? The horror movie display is also not to be missed–delightfully creepy.
Closer to home, we finally visited Tacoma’s Union Station, now converted to a courthouse, which houses several works of Dale Chihuly’s blown-glass art. He’s a Tacoma native, and has richly decorated his home town.
Summer’s winding down, despite our current heat wave, and I’m getting ready for a few mini-jobs in the local schools, plus the writing I’ve put on the back burner during all these visits.
I hope you’ve spent a restful summer with your nearest and dearest. What was your highlight?
When I was a small child, we used to have a huge May Day celebration in school. We’d make construction-paper May baskets, fill them with flowers, and deliver them as surprise gifts by hanging them on someone’s door knob, ringing the bell, and running away–probably the only time that this childhood prank had a positive outcome. The school celebration also included an outdoor gathering where we sang and danced, including the dance in which we’d weave ribbons around the Maypole. What ever happened to this joyful celebration? I think it may have been cut in reaction to the big communist brouhaha on the first of May–or perhaps some parent objected the the holiday’s pagan origins.
Today the Puget Sound Revels presented a traditional May Day celebration in Tacoma’s lovely Wright Park. This group presents several performances and community events throughout the year, culminating in the very popular Christmas Revels. My neighbor Kay was in charge of this year’s floral brigade, and supervised the making of scores of floral crowns for the dancers–anyone who joined in the celebration was bedecked with flowers.
Singers from Puget Sound Revels led us in song and dance, including this lively drum line.
We sang several rounds of various traditional songs, with lots of references to the Green Wood, the Green Man, Summer is Icumen In, deer hunting, etc.
Of course, the day’s festivities concluded with the traditional May Pole dance. What started out as a bit of a knotted cluster ended up forming this lovely pattern on the pole.
A Hey Nonny Nonny time was had by all. Thanks to the Revels crew for a lovely welcome to summer.