Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Pirate Looks At 80

 I posted this in 2015 under the title "I Saw The Big Pool Today".

It is as close to poetry as I am able to be able to produce.

But it needs a prologue.

I once self published a book of bird pictures that I had taken over time.

The introduction perfectly describes the magic place where my grandparents lived and where the Big Pool was.


"My father loved nature.

He was fascinated by it from the time he was a small boy and spent his summers in the woods north of Seattle.

Those woods are now all subdivided and built upon and named Lake Forest Park.

But when my father was a little boy those woods were just woods.  They had no name.  They were expansive and un-subdivided.

Those woods were full of plants and creatures that were so interesting they made the three month summers pass as if they were only a few days long.

My father told me that when I was a little boy. 

Those creatures were hidden from all but the most dedicated eyes and ears.

My father was an enthusiastic and dedicated observer.  So he had many things to tell that he saw during those summers.

The red huckleberries when they appeared shone like Christmas lights in the forest gloom. Normally those huckleberries were the most nondescript of forest floor shrubbery.  They were things that no one would ever notice.  

The sudden appearance of dark coral berries changed that briefly.  

When the berries appeared those nondescript bushes changed into glorious light green laceworks spattered with countless specks of red.

Then the birds descended upon them.

And then the berries disappeared.

And then the bushes receded from sight into their former anonymity.

But my father knew they were still there.

He told me about them when I was a little boy.

Clusters of gelatinous material laced with tiny spheres appeared every spring in the swamps that oozed out of the little creek that wandered through the woods.

And those spheres always did the same thing.

They always disappeared.  

In their place there were instead large numbers of tadpoles.

And before long the tadpoles disappeared.  

In their place there were instead large numbers of little thumbnail sized frogs.

The tiny spheres disappeared and then the tadpoles disappeared leaving only little frogs because they were all three one and the same.

The gelatin encased spheres turned into tadpoles and the tadpoles turned into frogs.

My father knew that.

He told me about that when I was a little boy.

Underwater in the little creek were things that looked like bundles of fir needles.  And there were bigger things that looked like tubes made of sand grains.

Both of those things were insects.

Rather, they were the larvae of insects yet to become.

“Larvae” was a word my father taught me.

Those larvae lived in the creek bottom until one day they all disappeared.

When they disappeared the air was filled with flying insects.

The larvae disappeared when the flying insects appeared because they were one and the same.

The larvae had turned into flying bugs.

My father knew that.

He told me about that when I was a little boy."


I Saw The Big Pool Today

I saw the Big Pool today.

And I was eleven years old.

And it was late in winter.

And I looked out of the picture window of my grand parents’ house.

You know – the house on the little hill above the little stream.

You know – the stream that wanders out of the woods.

The stream that fills the Big Pool.

The stream that disappears into the culvert that goes under the half-mile long round-smooth-worn-gravel driveway.

You know - the driveway that leads from civilization to magic; the driveway that leads to the turnaround where the Martins, when they visit,  park their 1948 Chrysler – the one with the huge external sun visor that shields the windshield of that large navy blue hulk.

That driveway. 

The driveway that terminates at the garage where Grandpa parks his Ford.

You know - the stream that exits the culvert into the lower reaches of the property.

The stream that drops off the property and down a dirt cliff, the place where the slope of the land has been scraped away to the level of the ground below. 

The stream that feeds the alder swamp that spreads across the scraped ground below.

You know – the swamp on the school grounds.

You know - the swamp that is the home to my tadpoles.

I am glad to see the Big Pool because it is the central point of that magic place of stream, swamp, culvert, woods and driveway.

That magic place of my Grand Parents.

And today I saw it.

I was there and I was eleven.

But not really.

I wasn't there.

And it wasn’t there.

And it wasn’t then.

And I wasn’t then.

It was wherever it still may be.

It was whenever it still may be.

And I was here and now.

And the view through the slanting blinds of the bay window of the dining area was my vista today.

It wasn’t that picture window.

And I didn’t see the Big Pool.

I saw cotoneaster berries.

Deeply orange phasing toward red they were clinging tenaciously to dis-spirited looking winter twigs.

The berries each with a crystal drop hanging.

Off-color rubies and diamonds.

That was all I really saw today.

But I did see the Big Pool.

And I know why.

It was the rain

That same rain hung in gray skeins over the Big Pool that day when I was eleven.

And that rain, hanging today like ominous festoons of dark lace over the rubies and the diamonds, washed me back from now to then.

And – I saw the Big Pool today.

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