To The Ocean

In my previous post, I said I wanted to live in the mountains. That statement brought back memories of my childhood.

I grew up about 30 travel miles southeast of Seattle, Washington in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Probably 50 miles as the crow flies west of Mount Rainier. In the morning, we watched the sunrise over the Cascades and in the evening, we watched it set on the Olympic Mountain peaks.

Our small farm lay on a pie shaped wedge of hills high above the convergence of two valleys and the little town of Auburn.

The Green and White Rivers that stream out of the Cascades once met at Auburn, uniting to form a larger river rushing on its way to Puget Sound. That changed at the turn of the 20th century.

In the late 1800s, the valley farmers battled the annual flooding and dynamite was one of their weapons. Unfortunately, a planned explosion in 1899 redirected much of the White river into Stuck Creek which carried it into the Puyallup River. A massive flood in 1906 sealed the deal when it sent the entire White River surging southward.

Flood control came in 1948 with the completion of Mud Mountain Dam on the White River. This was before my birth, but I heard first hand stories from my father, who was a laborer on the project. By the time I came on the scene, man diverted the White River yet again. It rests a spell in The Lake Tapps reservoir before exiting to its ultimate destination, Commencement Bay near Tacoma.I have reason to believe that my dad is the man on the lower right in this picture entitled Mud Mountain Dam from my mom's photo album .

When I was “the kid,” the White River and its hidden wilderness lay just over a tree-filled crest from our modest farm home. There were primitive paths that climbed the ridge and then dropped sharply to the sand and rocks. The water was full of “glacier flour” which provided its milky appearance and name. Sometimes the safest descent was to squat and slide on my worn sneakers. My friends joined me, with swimsuits under our peddle pushers, to splash in our secret swimming hole. (It was probably a spring fed pool.) We retraced our steps by pulling ourselves up the steep parts using exposed roots and other woody plants

The other valley hosts the 65-mile long Green river, fed by many mountain streams. We would sometimes take a Saturday afternoon drive to Black Diamond, about 16 miles away, to enjoy the “Green River Gorge.” The “Gorge” carved about 12 miles and up to 300 feet deep through the rocky cliffs. We descended the switchback trail through the hanging moss and ferns into a narrow echo chamber of laughing water. We were often the only ones there. Now I hear it is a popular white water attraction.
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Downstream, the valley widens to a half mile – and the farms were lush with berries, cucumbers, beans, and cabbage. A few summers down there picking strawberries are vivid in my memories. Like the time I popped a berry in my mouth and got stung under the tongue by an angry bee. I spit him out, of course.

A short distance further, Green River reaches Auburn and turns north, in opposition to the White Rivers turn south. It joins a few other rivers before it empties into Elliott Bay in Seattle.

The area around Seattle grew with haste the past thirty years. I grieve for the farmland that now grows houses. I resent the tall windows reflecting the sun off the cliffs.

However, I look at how fast my grandchildren are growing and realize that change is inevitable and I must accept it.

Well, one thing does remain the same. The rivers keep flowing to the sea.

Comments

her indoors said…
yes time do change, and sometimes not always for the better in my opinion, remember how it used to be safe as children to wander far from home and go on adventures like you did, and now we just wouldn't let our little ones far out of our sight.
Hazel said…
...nice remembrance. I smiled when you mentioned peddle pushers because I hadn't thought of them in many years.
swampy said…
You are puttting all this in a book aren't you?
Love the subtle (sp?) of the photo.
Peddle pushers...I still call them that in the stores looking for "capris." People look at me like I have two heads...
Ow, guess the bee didn't want to be in your mouth.
Love the way you ended the story.
mark said…
Really, really nice. I was enjoying the beautiful picture you painted so well and then there was the bee sting in the mouth. Ouch. Painful just to think about.
Masago said…
I bet the bee was just as glad to be spit out. :-)
Jeanette said…
Hi Pamela
nice to look back down memory lane,
Time stands still for nobody. we still buy Peddle pushers here and sometimes called three quarters.
Susie said…
Loved reading your childhood memories.
That bee sting under the tongue? Ouch!!
Your writing skills are amazing..
xo
Shelby said…
very nice remembrance! to the sea to the sea . . .
wolfbaby said…
Visited seattle once and have a pic of mt ranier from above the clouds.. it is a beatiful area to live and what a way to tell about it.. awesome
Bibi said…
Your childhood land sounds like a piece of heaven.

Although change is inevitable, I don't think it can always be called progress. I've only lived in the NW for 9 years and the changes have been astronomical.

I confess, I still have a pair of peddle pushers that I could never bear to throw away ... keep hoping I'll grow back into them ha ha.
Amanda said…
Nice imagery mom!! And I think you are right. I think that's your dad in the photo. Times change, but families remain. Someday, Curly Mop and Buttercup's kids will be displaying pictures of your childhood and recanting memories of weekend trips to the ocean.

Love you!
Kila said…
All in the name of progress, but what is really gained?

Great post; I love your writing.
ChrisB said…
A really lovely account of your childhood and the history before that. It reminds me when we used to swim in a brook not far from my home. I find the older I get the more I resent ' change in the name of progress' because I don't actually think everything is progress!!
Willowtree said…
You know I love these stories. It's hard for me to imagine you with a venomous tongue.
marnie said…
That gave me goosebumps. I love the mountains too.. and we live (I believe) in one of the most beautifully "curvy" places in the world. Don't you agree?

Even with all of the changes, I still love the "Pacific Northwest" and my own little "Pacific SOUTHwest".
rose said…
I love it when you talk about the mountains and the river and things of your childhood. Makes me want to be there. Rose
Little Miss Moi said…
Dear pamela. Sounds like it was beautiful. Sounds like it's still beautiful, despite the farmland that grows trees... although, that makes me sad when I see it happen in Australia too
Beccy said…
'Farmland that grows houses' we have a lot of that in Ireland...I fear it won't be the Emerald Isle for much longer.
kate said…
that was lovely to read. It is interesting to see how things change and yet often they remain the same!

Have a great weekend!
BarnGoddess said…
you grew up in a beautiful place. Thank you for the words to imagine sucha wonderful area of our Nation.

I think back of my childhood, growing up on Lake Superior and HOPE the Great Lakes remain the same for years to come.

About 10 years ago I once watched a movie set in WA and the Seattle area....I have been 'fascinated' with the climate and geography ever since.
DesLily said…
ain't nature grand when it consists of a bee in your mouth? .. that hurt just reading about it!
wendster said…
When I was a kid, bellflower and lakewood (in los angeles) were all dairy farms! I remember riding my bike through them quite often. Do you know that you aren't far from a great night out? A man on the outskirts of Mt. Rainier has a tree house you can rent. Working kitchen, bedroom, deck, bathroom, and etc. Amazing and fun. I don't have the contact info for it anymore, but my husband and I second honeymooned there and he found it on the internet.
kailani said…
I bet it must have been so nice when you had the place all to yourself! Sounds so peaceful!
Fish-2 said…
One part of the country I've never visited is the northwest. Sounds wonderful, and it is so great you had such wonderful memories of childhood there. That is one of the blessings afforded to me, a wonderful childhood in innocent times. Now here I am surrounded by woods just past the edge of the yard. No mountains, but the back edge of the property is about a hundred feet lower than the house, so it's not flat either. Thanks for painting us this wonderful picture.
melissa said…
I don't like change like that either. Sometimes it seems like all the open spaces are going away. Your story is lovely.
ablondeblogger said…
They grow too fast, don't they? I wish I could freeze my kids right where they are.
angel said…
its sad how things change- but it sounds like a magical place to grow up!
Sunrunner said…
I agree with you. I miss the open spaces and the wheat fields with the Rockies in the background.
Elizabeth Joy said…
My aunt lived out of Bonny Lake for many years. I loved to visit there. We drove down 410 on our way to mountains and the sea last week. I guess lots of people agree that the area is a lovely place to live. It is getting much more crowded then when Auntie lived there.

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