Posts Tagged ‘Seattle history’

I walk through the gloaming, the sky above me reddening toward night, through shade made deeper by dark, shaggy cedars and pale clad lindens shaking in the gentle breeze. It is a new place for me, but it is an ancient place, a storied place that still bears its ancient name:


Red Paint

The water of the spring seeps up from the ground, the source now collared by a ring of stone. Within the ring, the water is clear, but beneath the surface the stones are clad in the ochre velvet of accreted minerals. As the water gathers and flows quietly out the carved channel, the minerals oxidize, rusting, and paint the ground with a spill of red clay. The alluvial mud is slick to the touch, watery. For millennia, the People of the Inside and the People of the Large Lake came here to collect the wet, red earth, mix it with tallow, and make a bright, orange-red paint suitable for ceremonies and markings.

The springwater trickles down the slope to join the creek that used to run down to Green Lake but which now, sadly, has been capped and diverted to a less salubrious destination. But for a short distance, as I walk the paths beneath the trees, it is still wild (in its gentle way) and free.

I imagine it how it was, not so long ago, before the arrival of the Bostons (as the European-bred settlers were known). I can see thick-boled conifers, dark cathedral columns rising from the earth’s heart to hold up the red, sunset sky. Salal leaves, rough and leathery, grab at my shins, urging me to partake of their sweet, blue fruit. The breeze, wending its way past branch and fern, might taste of woodsmoke from a nearby camp. Frogs chorus in such numbers that, were I with a companion, we would not be able to hear each other speak.

But we would not speak, for this is a place where words are unnecessary, where the thoughts of men are unneeded, and where our hand only diminishes what already is. As the sun sets and the birds of daylight sing their last, I know I have found an immortal place.

This is Licton Spring.


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Fish or cut bait. Poop or get off the pot. Split wood or lend someone the axe.

During the run-up to a novel project, there comes a time when I must put down the books and pick up the pen. My problem, though, has usually been knowing when I’ve reached that point, that moment of sufficiency when, though I certainly don’t know everything about the pertinent subjects, I know enough to get started.

Now is that time. (more…)

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Stack of BooksFor the past few weeks, I’ve been doing research for The Wolf Tree. It’s been an education, in several ways.

Seattle isn’t like New York or San Francisco or London. I don’t have dozens of books to choose from, rows of scholarly tomes filled with history, details, and anecdotes. (more…)

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Stack of BooksYeah, sure.

“I write because…because I must,” he said as he fell back in a swoon, hand to forehead.

Blah, blah, blah. Flip it to the B-Side, Sonny.

[Jeez…how many of you don’t know what I mean by “B-side,” I wonder?]

Let’s drop the dramatics and be real for a moment.

The truth is, if I never wrote another word, if I never ventured another sentence of prose, I would not die. Yes, that’s right. If I never wrote again, I wouldn’t spend my life in abject misery. I wouldn’t feel the lack of a pen in my hand like the ache from some phantom limb. I wouldn’t bemoan the globe’s loss of my mellifluous prose (nor, most likely, would the globe).

No, I do not write because “I must.” Nor do I write for fame (duh!) or fortune (ditto!). Nor do I write for the approbation of my peers (hell, they’re so busy they can’t even find time to read my books, much less swamp me with approbation.)

Obviously, there are reasons I write. You don’t write nine novels without sufficient reason. But do you want to know why? Seriously, do you want to know?

C’mere. I’ll tell you. (more…)

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Doc Maynard had a wife. Two of them, actually, and simultaneously, some say.

David S. “Doc” Maynard, one of Seattle’s more colorful founders, married Catherine Simmons Broshear Maynard, a widow he had met along the Oregon Trail. He married her almost immediately upon divorcing Lydia, his first wife, a decree granted via questionable–and later, contestable–conditions. (Doc may have implied that Lydia was…deceased….)

Catherine Maynard proved to be as legendary as her husband, helping thwart an attack on the settlers of Seattle, accepting for a time her husband’s first wife under her own roof, and traveling the state on horseback, riding from Seattle across the Cascades to Ellensburg, well into her 70s.

But she did one other thing which, 150 years later, affects every single Seattle homeowner.

Catherine Maynard brought the dandelion to Seattle. (more…)

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