At Large in Ballard: Petals of Change
A woman waiting for a bus was pulling up her hood, trying to protect herself from the barrage. The windshield of a parked car was obscured in pink. It was the annual snowstorm of falling cherry petals, blowing to the north off of Greenlake and rendering the drive west on NW 65th magical.
I was mostly out of town for the peak of the cherry blossoms; at least the ones on UW campus and that street off Leary that seems to appear just once a year like a Brigadoon. I caught the last of the magnificent tree on the alley near Sunset Hill Green Market and one confused night mistook the magnolia trees in bloom for fresh snowfall. But when the flowering trees are at their peak I feel like I am holding my breath. They are so perfect, so fleeting. It’s a relief to me when the petals start to fly.
The time of falling petals is the magic hour in my book. Especially when there has been a heat wave followed by a breezy day it is as though entire neighborhoods are synchronized. Children chase petals on the sidewalk; they roll in and out on the lawns like surf on a sandy beach. While we are distracted by the pink snow the leaves unfurl. When we raise our eyes again the trees have been transformed. Likewise so much change during a short time away, or wasn’t I paying proper attention until I returned and looked at our streets with fresh eyes?
The intersection of NW 22nd and Market Street has once again cornered the market on coffee, with each location drawing praise for its renovations. The site of the former Bali-Mart further east on Market is being remodeled for as yet unknown purposes, but next door the Beau-Tique still offers $15 haircuts, satisfaction guaranteed. Mud Bay was taking delivery of a truckload of scratching posts made out of driftwood; is it the start of cat-scratching season as well?
I heard that what one friend considered ‘Ballard’s favorite kitchen store,’ Dish It Up, has already closed its doors on Ballard Avenue. Clearly it was not ‘Ballard’s favorite kitchen store,’ a title that has belonged to Kitchen N’Things for almost 40 years. Thank goodness for that lack of change, with Gifted saying farewell, a new dessert place about to say welcome and the Queen of Norway not yet making an appearance on Market Street. Contrary to rumor, The Viking Tavern is NOT closing.
It’s also month for firsts: Secret Garden and Washington Poets Association are launching the First Annual Ballard Poetry Festival starting on April 26th. The Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Library has chosen Amy Waldman’s “The Submission” for its 2012 “Seattle Reads” program. You can go into the Ballard library and they will give you a brand new paperback copy, just like that. The author will make her Ballard appearance on May 5th at 11 a.m.
The lilies are up, but so is the slug and snail count. The daffodils have come and gone, but I’ve heard my first buzzing mosquito. There are new neighbors two doors up. A friend asked if everything in my house gets covered in dust every few days, always more obvious when the sun actually shines. Although the answer is yes, I’m glad that for now it’s not coal dust on the shelves, in our lungs.
There’s news working its way up from Oregon that a company proposes to send coal by rail to Canada, to be shipped to Asia. According to a coalition that is opposing the proposal up to 48 tons of coal could be passing through communities like ours, on the railroad line that goes just below houses in Ballard and along Golden Gardens. There will be a forum at Trinity United Methodist Church, 6512 23rd Avenue, tonight, on April 18th, from 7-9 p.m. to discuss the health risks and ways to fight the proposal.
As if by coincidence a neighbor came home from church on Easter Sunday with a flyer for an event on May 5, 2012, presented by Trinity United Methodist Women. Story teller Debbie Dimitre will embody Rachel Carson, the biologist and ecologist who is credited with waking the world to the dangers of manmade pollution, particularly pesticides, in her 1962 work, “A Silent Spring.” Dimitre herself wonders what Carson would make of our planet these 50 years later? What birds no longer live to sing, what would she make of the coal transport, which affects so many on its journey from the mine to its use generating power?
So much change, in any given week and yet so much that doesn’t change: lessons not learned. But for now the robins are still singing and soon the frogs will be croaking along those same railroad tracks. My mother-in-law is back at her home in Ballard two months after her fall outside of her apartment. There’s word that Carrie Gustafson and her Lily and the People Kid’s Clay Camps return to Ballard, at the Sunset Hill Community Association for the summer.
Always good with the bad, a mix of melancholy and magic…what else can you expect when it’s the time of the falling petals? From jazz to poetry, coal to clay camps, spring brings the winds of change and all we can do is gather the petals in our hands and then release them back to the air.
For more information on the proposed coal export see http://www.powerpastcoal.org. For additional information on the upcoming Debbie Dimitre as Rachel Carson event on 5.5.12 contact Carol Bronkema at 206.367.1562.