Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Report from Port Townsend
This is a detail of a beautiful madrone that sits on a up slope of land heading toward the bluff at Fort Worden in Port Townsend. It has incredibly smooth and lustrous bark; "bark" seems the wrong word, more like peel. It's phenomenally pleasurable to run your hands over. The tree grows next to a small, atmospheric castle/tower, built in the late 19th century in recollection of Scotland -- and this could be a Scots landscape, the wide cold water below the bluff, where last night a seal floated with both head and tail raised up, then spied us and suspiciously ducked under. We're here for a writers conference; I'm teaching a manuscript workshop with a serious and articulate group. Paul gave a spectacular reading here. We had superb Japanese food in town. There's a sweet back-to-the-land culture here, and the local food co-op has the most beautiful crooked purple radishes I've ever seen, along with small turnips and orange beets that glow from the inside with radiant well-being. We've been watching a doe who comes every morning to browse the grass in the field outside our window. Our house is a little military family place: a rectangle with two bedrooms (terrible beds) and a kitchen with stenciled cupboards and yellow formica counters. Every time I'm in there I start imagining being a young military wife, 1954, making a pot roast or lemon sugar cookies, trying to imagine the life ahead of me.
Below, the field outside our window, in thin morning fog. The madrone's the big dome of a tree on the right.