Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's a small world.

Anyone who followed my study-abroad+travel blog may recall the fact that I ran into other Obies on three separate occasions during my weeks that I backpacked through Europe - at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, at a hole-in-the-wall vegetarian restaurant in Prague, and on my late-January flight back to the states out of Paris (both of us were in the middle leg of our flight connections home; she, from Madagascar on to Colorado, me from Amsterdam on to Kansas.)

Well, it's happening again. As I was walking down a random street in Seattle a few days ago, I passed a quaint little coffeehouse with an outdoor terrace, and there, working on his laptop, was an intramural soccer buddy of mine from Oberlin. Neither of us are originally from Seattle, so running into each other here was rather miraculous. I was in no rush, so I stopped there to have a muffin with him and catch up our respective post-Oberlin lives. Awesome.

He mentioned to me that there was going to be an Oberlin alumni picnic here this weekend. Though he couldn't make it himself, I navigated my way over to the beautiful Lincoln Park of West Seattle on Saturday. I couldn't find the group right away, so I wandered awhile before stumbling across them - and in doing so, determined the park to be my new favorite running/hiking/swimming spot so far.

The water, lined with mountains (difficult to see in this picture, but they're there...), is of course stunning:

And the woods, too:

And everything after that as well:

The picnic itself was good fun. Great weather, yummy food, lots of new people to meet from all generations of graduating classes, ranging from 1951 to recently admitted students who will start Oberlin in the fall. Also ran into at least one old, familiar friend from a brief overlap in Harkness (food co-op) several years ago. Very nice way to spend an afternoon.

Then, yesterday, I drove down to Olympia to vist two of my favorite friends from high school - Kyle and Allison. Kyle is working on an organic farm out here this summer, and Allison's in town with family to visit Kyle. The drive to Olympia alone is worthy of mention: no photos, but my first real look at Mount Rainier was amazing - a huge rainbow crested the top of it for several minutes of my drive, and I'm still in awe of how surrounded the highways are with towering evergreens, mountain ranges, views of the bay...

The three of us drove out to farm? ranch? the middle of nowhere, out in the genuine sticks. A sizeable plot of land, and upon arrival, we were immediately recruited to help bale hay.

A good group of the PSA-ers, as they're known, (Practice of Sustainable Agriculture) was gathering to have a big food-and-feel-good fest, involving all of the following: bread-baking lessons, informal composting demonstrations, vegetable seed planting, chicken coop building, guacamole, chili, coleslaw, and pasta making, cooking fresh jams on the stove from blueberries and blackberries the PSA-ers had picked in wild bogs earlier that day, football in the living room with a giant squash, self-brewed beer and homemade fermented wine imbibing, guitar and bongo drum circles on the back porch, and stargazing.

Aaand...turns out two of the PSA-ers are Obies as well! That was a fun coincidence. (Also, didn't mention it in the blog, but one of Shari's other ranger-intern friends at Glacier was an Obie, too! They're everywhere.) The skies in Washington are huge, like the Midwest, except here they're framed with mountains and trees instead of flat horizon.

The sunset took over the entire sky canvas above us, coloring all the clouds, lacing the tops of the evergreens like gossamer. Once it got dark, thousands of stars were visible, and save the happy din of acoustic guitar and conversation, stillness reigned. It was beautiful!

It was inspiring to be around folks doing the communal-living thing, happy and thriving off the land...knowledgeable about plants and the earth and living sustainably. The local foods movement is exciting to me, and low-key food-making is something I hope to develop more in the future. My first loaf of bread ever sure smelled delicious on my drive back to Seattle this morning!

Days in Seattle with no rain yet: 11

Take that, Northwest-poo-pooers.

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