Seattle is a place of abundant water. From its powerful white waterfalls to its placid lakes and rivers, water is everywhere and accessible to man and animals alike. Its silvery ripples soothe our souls when Mark and I kayak after long hard days in front of our screens. I often escape to the water to clear my head, change my perspective, and reset my energy.
In late June, Macy and I went for an afternoon walk on the paved path along the southern banks of Lake Washington, near Coulon Beach. The day was sunny and warm, and we both needed a breath of fresh air. She was on a hunt for chunky pieces of rose quartz along the water’s edge like she’d found several months before. But families were enjoying the water in her favorite rock-hunting spot — small kids splashing and squealing while moms chatted on cell phones nearby, and that made it impossible for her to hunt for quartz.
We meandered north until we spotted logs with several dark silhouettes bobbing nearby. As we got closer, we realized the dark bobbers were turtles! One lay sunning itself on the log as others swam effortlessly underwater. We counted six in all. We stopped on the bridge to admire the beautiful display of nature and took several pictures there. The water glistened, and we were glad to have finally spotted turtles at this park after many months of searching.
At the end of June, Seattle experienced an extreme heatwave. It was really rare for our region. Daytime high temperatures soared past 100 degrees, and we set a record on June 28 when temps reached 113. It was unheard of. I’d made plans to go to Franklin Falls in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest with my good friend Tracey during the weekend’s heatwave as a respite from the heat.
My car’s thermometer read 89 degrees when we arrived, which was hot but still bearable. We felt comfortable despite the afternoon sun because sky-high evergreens shaded the dirt trail. We used hiking poles to navigate the trail, climbing up and up at a moderate pace.
When we arrived at the falls, we heard them roar before we saw them. The trail became “one-person narrow,” and we navigated the rocks that were chiseled into a wet grey staircase. Down, down we went, slowly, hugging the slick rock wall on our descent. The mist was cool and made me shiver. It sprayed Tracey’s glasses, causing little spots on her lenses. We got as close to the falls as we could. An avalanche in February had deposited tree trunks and boulders, blocking off the rocky ground at the bottom of the falls, which is typically accessible to hikers. Despite our distance from the falls, we got sprayed off and cooled down. It was so refreshing and made our return hike bearable.
Earlier this week, I woke up to gentle rain, and I was surprised. We’d not seen rain in several weeks, and that’s typical for this region during the summer months. I went for a walk along Lake Sammamish in Issaquah with my friend Laura in the drizzly afternoon. We chatted and walked beyond the playground, passing a giant paper wasp nest hanging from a tree. We continued to walk to the water’s edge and stood there watching the still, grey water. Suddenly across the water, from behind a clump of tall reeds, we heard a low rustle. Out popped a young doe, then another, and a third. They hopped into the knee-high water and started lapping like dogs. They were thirsty. They meandered out as a group, not swimming but loping along. Laura and I stood stock-still along the shoreline. They passed by us, so close we could have touched them, and Laura and I smiled silently, so grateful to have experienced this moment together.
Later in the week, I went to my outdoor yoga class, a much-needed escape for my mind and body after a long day in front of the computer. My mind wandered. I struggled to maintain my balance and steady myself in tree pose.
To clear my mind, I inhaled deeply and then exhaled. I focused intensely on the red-painted wall behind my instructor. I stood on the concrete, sweating profusely, and shaking like a leaf. Then my gaze slid down the wall, and I found “water.”
I fixed my eyes on that silver metal door and steadied myself. I reflected on how often I escape to the water to clear my head and reset my energy. And that was precisely what I needed. I stood tall with confidence, focusing on the feelings I experience when I’m near water.
I slowed my breathing, gained my balance, and ended my practice in peace.