silver linings

Almost the last leg of the long drive home from California. We’d thought we’d stop at a freeway-side hotel a little south of Seattle in order to be ready to leave first thing tomorrow morning, to avoid the rush-hour traffic. Somehow, around 4, leaving the freeway because of heavy traffic on the I-5, we found ourselves lost in Tacoma. A bit of aimless driving, then John asked someone in a bar in the old part of town if he could recommend a hotel nearby. We were directed to the Silver Cloud, a serene place on Puget Sound, with a wonderful view, and it only costs a little more than a Best Western (freeway-side…). Here’s the view from our room:


After a day of driving, it’s heaven. And the young man on the desk invited us to join other guests for drinks and appetizers in the lobby at 5:30 — a Tuesday institution, apparently.

The landscapes of California, Oregon, and Washington are so various and interesting. Yesterday I was very taken by the beautiful colours near Red Bluff in northern California — vast grasslands, deep ochre cliffs, live oaks, and airy pines. The Siskiyou Forest, straddling California and Oregon, with small towns along the rivers, and the Jeffrey pines (I think they were), blue oaks and white oaks: so lovely.

All along the highway from about Centralia to Tacoma we kept seeing Mt. Ranier in the distance, shimmering in sunlight, though it was raining lightly where we were. We’d look, marvel, and then look again to see that the mountain had disappeared behind hills or forests. Then it would appear again, like a god.

mount.rainierAs nice as it’s been to be away (in California, in warm sun, in November!), I’ll be glad to get home. Back to writing, back to quilting, back to…well, my own life. My own country. As a North American, there’s much that I share with those living in the USA. But there are differences, big ones. The number of homeless people in a wealthy city like Berkeley, young people on the streets with their dogs, their tattered sleeping bags, and — I found this so odd — handwritten signs offering the story of their difficult situation. “Robbed in my sleep again,” began one, and it went on to detail the man’s hardships. Or the young woman at a junction near American Canyon, holding a sign saying, “Mother with two sons, homeless, can you help?” She looked like anyone’s daughter and yet I can’t imagine the situation that would result in my own daughter standing on a roadside with a sign. I know we have social problems in our own culture — in our own community — but the scale seems so much larger here.

So when I saw a sign in southern Washington, denouncing the current administration as “Bolshevists”, I knew I was far from home.

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