Friday, April 04, 2008
We are fortunate to live in a house perched on the edge of Puget Sound, on a high bank, looking north. Whidbey Island is in our view, as is Mount Baker, and the waters leading toward Deception Pass. Craning our necks a little, we can also see the Olympic Mountains. Winter or Summer, clear or storming, the view constantly changes. Sometimes the waters are flat and reflect the clouds (as in the title picture of this blog); sometimes winds blast down from the North, pushing waves and froth in our direction, and driving boats to struggle their way back to harbor. Tugs go by. We can hear them. Sometimes it's Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier once or twice a year; decked with planes and sailors in their whites. There's a pair of big red and white tugs, double-ended and always brilliantly clean, of the large ocean-going type that I see often. Many more, including one or two that are so tiny as to seem useless -- except that they aren't -- chuggle the waters, too. One is lugging a flotilla of logs as I type: it's churning the water behind it into a fine froth, struggling. The log raft is a hundred yards long, at least. When the weather gets a little warmer, the rafts will sport hitchhikers; dozens of sea lions fatly sunning a free ride into town. Seals for some reason (maybe they're unwelcome) seem only to swim by, never taking a ride. Our windows are open in the summer, and the barking often wakes us up. If the birds haven't.
When I was working, most days I left home in the dark, and returned in the darker. Although this house (which we've remodeled in one of our more successful creative endeavors) and its view were as much a part of what attracted me here as my wife's family and the job itself, it's not been until fairly recently that I've been able to enjoy it as much as I now do. I've seen seals catch salmon and flip them up vertical, then slug them down their gullets in one slide, disappointing the seagulls hanging by. Regularly in view are bald eagles, flying right at eye level just off our bank; sometimes with prey in their talons, their screech no longer surprising, but still thrilling. Cats need to be careful. The eagles nest about fifty yards away in a dead tree; we've watched babies pop their heads up, fledge, fly away. Juveniles have perched in our cedar tree, right outside the window.
Ferries are within view, on both sides of their route, leaving more or less at the same time from each dock, occasionally having to divert around tugs or the Navy. We used to walk down on Sunday mornings and take a ride over and back for breakfast, just for the view it affords of the water and mountains. Visitors got the same routine.
I mention all this only because a few moments ago there were gray whales spouting out there. They're usually -- as they were today -- far enough away that you don't get a great view: spouts, sometimes a bit of a back. Once, though, one came right to the bank and stayed for a while, blast-breathing right in front of the house. Orca pods, half dozen or more in a group, go by once in a while. Whale sightings aren't real common from right here, so it's a treat when it happens. Nothing much to do with surgery, really, other than that it's in the obverse that I now have time to observe.
[I guess I should add that as of a year or so ago, there's now a huge industrial pier in front of our house, the pile-driving for which intruded on our peace and rattled our house for many months, and on top of which there was just added an enormous crane that wheels out and back to the warning sound of a siren. When at the end of the dock it looms red-eyed (two big lights) into our view. So nothing's perfect. But really, I still can't complain.]