November 11, 2014

They barricaded Five Mile Drive today. I parked at the zoo and ran in on foot. 

Five Mile Drive was covered with little branches and leaves and pine needles, as though no one had disturbed it for weeks, even though I knew that all the debris probably all came down today in the high winds. The winds that, an hour before, had pulled my ajar car door out of my grip and sent it crashing into the next car over in the parking lot. It didn’t leave a dent, and the little stripe of my car’s telltale chameleon green-grey paint came off with a quick panicked scrub of my forefinger. Relief.

I pulled my hood up against the worst of the wind and staggered into it. 

I let myself run slowly. I let myself just stop sometimes and look at the way the light was filtering through the trees today, at this time. Daylight is such a treat at this time of year, so I cannot squander it. The late light was firing up the tall pines bright golden. It was the kind of light I saw when I took that picture earlier this year. “Evergreen,” I’d captioned it, and it got a lot of likes, while meanwhile he and I wandered in circles in that little park on Bainbridge and argued and I couldn’t stop starting to cry. Evergreen. To me that picture is all about dead and newly born things. Nothing perpetual. I suppose those trees have watched a lot of things rise up and fall away.

Today I jogged slowly along the cliff on the western edge and thought idly, detachedly, of what it would be like to fall off it by accident. Would I slowly tumble or just drop? Would I be able to cling to a tree and heave myself up to safety? Even if I dropped, could I swim in the Narrows? But no crisis came. 

At some point I removed my headphones and let the wind overpower me. It was pulling down bits of trees all around me. Leaves were swirling and flying everywhere, even in the relative calm of the deepest part of the woods. Large branches would come cracking down the trunk of a tall tree. It occurred to me I might be crushed. In places there were even whole trunks freshly broken in two. 

The only person I passed was a friendly older man with the brilliant smile of a mid-century politician. Together we watched a massive branch tumble from on high. “Keep your eyes open,” he said, and smiled.

At the end I wandered out to the eastern edge where the Sound was bright with white caps and big waves threatened to inundate the promenade. The sky was buzzing with the reflected pink of the sunset. The whole place was deserted, but the ferry still approached steadily from Vashon. By the water, outside the curtain of trees, the wind whipped at me more fiercely. Partly using my muscles and partly relaxing into the great force, I raised my arms and the wind raised my arms and I cried a prayer. 

It’s easy to be full of gratitude when all illusions of power are blown away.

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