I drove to a fly shop in West Seattle to test a fly rod a few days ago – more on that in a future post.
After leaving the shop, I turned on the navigation system in my Outback to give me the route home – hopefully to avoid the traffic that builds up around Tacoma in the afternoon. It directed me towards a street I hadn’t expected and soon realized I was on the way to the Fauntleroy dock, where a ferry would take me to Southworth on the west side of the Sound.
I thought it would be a nice change of pace and make for a much shorter drive home once I got to Southworth.
Even better, the ferry was there getting ready to load when I arrived. Now I know, or at least believe, the navigation system could not have had the ferry schedule, but it sure felt like more than coincidence.
And what a day it was for a ferry ride.
The temperature was in the mid forties; much warmer than we had during the previous week. And the sun was out – no gray skies; no biting winds; and no rain or snow.
As the ferry pulled away I had time to sit and reflect.
I see the Sound nearly every day. Though we live a bit over two miles inland from any view of the water, I make it a point to get to where I can see Puget Sound any time I’m driving somewhere.
As the ferry pulled away from the dock, I was struck by the idea this was going to be a special trip.
The deep blue waters of the Sound complemented the azure sky that held white clouds to the east. And between them – the land. From the water everything looked forested. Beyond those trees were the houses, roads, people and all the other issues of modern life.
While Gig Harbor is comparatively an oasis from many big city problems, living here doesn’t allow one to escape all the problems of modern life.
Many of the roads are much busier than we moved here five years ago; rush hour backups are common; reports indicate property crime is increasing; and the homeless population seems to be increasing along the highway.
It seems as if every patch of trees is being removed to make way for new houses. The loss of a heron rookery downtown appears inevitable to make way for new luxury homes. And we have a family friend whose wife now appears to be in the final stages of her struggle with cancer.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, wherever you go – there you are.
So where was I?
I know that most problems go away on their own, or we learn to adapt to them. We all have suffered tragic losses – or will someday – from which we will never recover. And as I learned a bit over a year ago we are all mortal and death haunts each of us.
The ferry itself reminded me that its passage, while a small and temporary thing, does impact the waters and life beneath it. It is the same with each of us. Our actions while small and temporary do add up and impact the natural world we inhabit – the loss of a heron rookery; the decline in returning salmon; and the loss of Arctic sea ice, are all but examples.
I had a moment of awareness as I looked back toward the now distant ferry dock and the large house on Brace Point. At best, they were little more than tiny shapes – without form or definition. Out in the middle of the Sound, everything human-scale appears inconsequential and small.
And watching the brilliance of the light and the beauty of the Sound and distant land it seemed to me that this was about as good as it gets. I live in a place I love. I have people I love and who love me. I do my best to tread lightly on the Earth, sometimes with success; often not.
While not exactly a profound thought it was just a reminder of what I already knew from having left footprints on Earth for over six decades.
And maybe that was the lesson of the trip. Taking a few minutes whenever possible to appreciate whatever we have and wherever we live.