A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 56: West as You Can Get

August 21st · 6 Comments

Today Joo introduced me to her favorite tree. A Seattle native, she had beat me to the West Coast by a few days and by the time I arrived she had already settled into its green, sap-scented vibe. I was irritable on the drive out to Anacortes, jogging my foot against the floorboards, still in a New York state of mind.

This tree is on the shore in an overgrown patch of the San Juan Islands. The San Juans are on the Pacific Rim but protected from the ocean’s force, much the same way Manhattan is arrayed against the Atlantic, and the waves arrived against the rocks only three inches tall. I could tell right away that Joo’s tree was unique among conifers.

The trunk extended in straight line fifty feet over Puget Sound, horizontal and walkable, punctuated by a branch that made for comfy sitting and contemplation.

The water sloshed against the shore in a messy, haphazard way and the sun warmed us from a bed of dainty little clouds. In the distance the other islands of the San Juans eased out of the Sound like a pod of Orcas breaking the waves.

We sat there for I don’t know how long. I stared down into the water and saw a bit of seaweed undulating with the waves, watched the brave progress of a little red crab. Seagulls cawed and grackled and the water slurped loudly at the rocks. I took it all in for a long, long time. For the first time in two months, New York wasn’t on my mind.

It’s like I’d arrived covered in soot from head to toe without even knowing it. This tree, and the water and wind and sun, were acting on me the same way that raindrops from a summer thunderstorm act upon the windowpane of my New York apartment. The San Juans collected the urban grime off my skin, rolled in rivulets down to my toes, and fell into clean salt water of Puget Sound in big, fat drops.

Tags: East Coast v. West Coast · Getaways · Sights & Scenes · Why I Hate This Town

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Oren Jaffe // Aug 21, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I love hearing about you reconnecting to nature. Great post. I could smell, taste, and live your experience through you. Thanks, it is a nice escape on a cloudy, gray SF summer day. We miss you in SF my man. I like reading about your adventures though. Peace and say hi to Joo from me, Oren

  • 2 Steve // Aug 23, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Fantastic Tree!

  • 3 Sulley // Aug 23, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Who’s gonna clean up that grimy urban slick from Puget Sound?

  • 4 Meredith Medland // Aug 28, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Wow. Powerful Entry David. I’m loving your words. Thanks for sharing and for remembering the power of nature!

    Love ya, Meredith

  • 5 Mara and Bharath // Aug 29, 2008 at 12:40 am

    That’s so whack, dude! I had the same experience trying to watch the dem convention on TV while tuning my ever-present, ever-boisterous kids out. Well, ok, you had the better experience. 🙂 But I like these vicarious pleasures. I feel like I’m being very outdoorsy and adventurous since you moved to NY and started this damn blog.

  • 6 Mara and Bharath // Aug 29, 2008 at 12:42 am

    Oh, and you should move to the great northwest after your shenanigans in NY. That is, if you like all this horizontal tree stuff.

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