Green Lake, Seattle

Green Lake, Seattle

“The moon and the sun are travelers of a hundred generations.  The years, coming and going, are wanderers too.  Spending a lifetime adrift on boat decks, greeting old age while holding a horse by the mouth — for such a person, each day is a journey, and the journey itself becomes home.”
— Basho

We are all journeying through life, whether covering vast distances on the road or staying close to home.  I love hearing about where friends, family, and colleagues are going on their vacations, and sometimes I have trip envy.  I’ve never traveled for such extended periods that the road became my home.  All my life, I’ve had deadlines to return home and resume my job.

Perhaps these time limits are why I really love to travel when I get the chance.  While I appreciate my travels, I do like spending time at home, too.  I can rationalize the advantages of staying home and making a rich life of my ordinary days.  That’s why this poem by Billy Collins brings a smile of recognition to my face:

Consolation

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon’s
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

 

I love that we have complex and sometimes competing rationales for traveling or staying put.  Here is another poem that asks whether we should have stayed at home:

Questions of Travel
by Elizabeth Bishop

There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams
hurry too rapidly down to the sea,
and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops
makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion,
turning to waterfalls under our very eyes.
– For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains,
aren’t waterfalls yet,
in a quick age or so, as ages go here,
they probably will be.
But if the streams and clouds keep travelling, travelling,
the mountains look like the hulls of capsized ships,
slime-hung and barnacled.

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?

But surely it would have been a pity
not to have seen the trees along this road,
really exaggerated in their beauty,
not to have seen them gesturing
like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
– Not to have had to stop for gas and heard
the sad, two-noted, wooden tune
of disparate wooden clogs
carelessly clacking over
a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.)
– A pity not to have heard
the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird
who sings above the broken gasoline pump
in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque:
three towers, five silver crosses.

– Yes, a pity not to have pondered,
blurr’dly and inconclusively,
on what connection can exist for centuries
between the crudest wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden cages
– Never to have studied history in
the weak calligraphy of songbirds’ cages.
– And never to have had to listen to rain
so much like politicians’ speeches:
two hours of unrelenting oratory
and then a sudden golden silence
in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:

‘Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one’s room?

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there… No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?

 

I’m glad that there is room in my life for occasional big trips and also comfortable days at home.  I can find beauty and interesting things almost anywhere.

So here are a few photos from a local jaunt to Tacoma, just 40 minutes from Seattle:

Chihuly glass chandelier in Union Station, Tacoma

Chihuly glass chandelier in Union Station, Tacoma

Chihuly Bridge of Glass, Tacoma

Chihuly Bridge of Glass, Tacoma

Staircase by Tacoma Glass Museum

Staircase by Tacoma Glass Museum

 

In the garden at Chihuly Garden and Glass

In the garden at Chihuly Garden and Glass

I’ve spent the past 10 days taking my sister and her husband to some of my favorite places in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.  Audrey’s vacation priorities were family and National Parks, but before heading off on a couple of road trips, she wanted to spend the first day after their arrival in Seattle recovering from jet lag.  The highlight of our day out and about Seattle was our visit to Chihuly Garden and Glass, which showcases the work of glass artist, Dale Chihuly.  It is located at the base of the Space Needle at the Seattle Center.  When we arrived, workers were cleaning up from the annual Bumbershoot Festival.  (Bumbershoot is another name for umbrella.)

Bumbershoot Alley at the Seattle Center

Bumbershoot Alley at the Seattle Center

Two of my favorite spaces are the Persian Ceiling Room and the Glass House inside Chihuly Garden and Glass.  My sister liked the gardens outside, where glass sculptures are artfully placed next to a diverse selection of colorful plants.

Sculpture in the Sealife Room

Sculpture in the Sealife Room

Persian Ceiling with reflections on the wall

Persian Ceiling with reflections on the wall

Detail, Persian Ceiling

Detail, Persian Ceiling

Mille Fiori Room

Mille Fiori Room

Chandelier

Chandelier

Macchia Forest Room

Macchia Forest Room

Glass House

Glass House

Garden outside

Garden outside

img_9836

img_9850

img_9851

img_9853

img_9852

img_9861

img_9868

img_9869

 

View of the Seattle’s Space Needle from Chihuly Garden and Glass

The garden part of Chihuly Garden and Glass is varied, colorful, and as visually arresting as the glass sculptures inside.  I tried to pay particular attention to the juxtaposition of the plants and art, and I imagine that there will be new points of interest as the flowers, foliage, and trees move through their seasonal changes.

Lily with orange glass forest

Blue spires and fallen logs

Greens in foliage and glass

Detail, garden sculpture

Silvery leaves and glass ball with metallic colors

In the garden at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Glass like a vine

And glass like a slender tree trunk

Chihuly Garden and Glass sculptures among the plants

Detail, blue glass in the garden

The price of admission included a return ticket to the garden in the evening.  We were tempted to skip the evening return visit, but we were so glad we made the effort to go back.  At night, the garden is a magical place.  The sculptures are lit and create an enchanted atmosphere.

Glass House at night. Lighting shows off the 100-ft. suspended sculpture.

New view of the Seattle Space Needle

Hall of chandeliers by the outdoor patio

Chihuly Garden and Glass at night

Monumental outdoor sculpture, Chihuly Garden and Glass

In the garden at night

Glowing glass sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Glasshouse at Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle

My sister and her husband were visiting from Wisconsin, and while playing tourist in Seattle, I finally went to see the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum that opened earlier this year.  The exhibition surpassed my expectations.  I’m sure it will become a top tourist site for Seattle, but like the Pike Place Market, it should also be a go-to destination for those of us who live here.  I’ll be returning, especially if they host special exhibits from time to time.

Some of the Chihuly pieces on display at Chihuly Garden and Glass are familiar, like old friends.  The Northwest Room was similar to the exhibit I saw at the Tacoma Art Museum in June 2011.  The Persian Ceiling feels similar to the Bridge of Glass in Tacoma.  But there were many, many new pieces too.  I loved how room opened upon room, each stunning in a new way.  Here’s a virtual tour:

Glass Forest

The Northwest Room

Glass baskets in the Northwest Room, inspired by Chihuly’s collection of Native woven baskets

Chihuly glass and his collection of Native trade blankets

Chihuly’s collection of Edward Curtis prints on the wall leading to the Sealife Room

Sealife Room

The Sealife Room opened into the room with the Persian Ceiling

Awestruck visitors take in the Persian Ceiling

Strategically placed benches allowed you to rest a while and immerse yourself in the art

The Persian Ceiling Room, with its reflections, was my favorite part of Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Doorway to the Milli Fiori Room

The glass sculptures were dramatically lit in the black room.

Detail, glass sculptures in Milli Fiori room

Detail, glass sculptures in the Milli Fiori room

Ikebana and Float Boat

Chihuly’s paintings are energetic and colorful.

Next, a room of glass chandeliers

Orange chandelier

Detail, chandeliers

Macchia Forest Room

Detail, glass sculpture in Macchia Forest Room

Glasshouse, Chihuly Garden and Glass

Tomorrow’s post will take you into the Garden.  Stay tuned!

Daytripping Tacoma

October 8, 2011

Bridge of Glass in Tacoma with Chihuly glass forms in the ceiling

I took my sister and niece to Tacoma so that they could see some Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.  They were fortunate to be able to see the Dale Chihuly’s Northwest exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum before it closed.  I feel lucky to live so close to Tacoma and its glass art, which I’ve seen several times and have never tired of.

Tacoma's old brick buildings near the U of W satellite campus

Exterior, Museum of Glass, Tacoma

Bridal party having photographs made at the Museum of Glass

Union Station, Tacoma, with Chihuly glass forms hanging in the distant windows inside

Dale Chihuly's Northwest exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum

Grand staircase at University of Washington Tacoma campus

Chihuly chandelier at U of W Tacoma Library

 

 

Woman in "Golden Brow" headdress serves up rice pilaf

Annual bazaar at Seattle's St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Yesterday I stopped by a bazaar at the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.  I made the mistake of eating before I went!  All the food looked delicious.  I ate some rice pilaf.  But I’m marking my calendar already for next year’s festival so that I can make a point to have tea at their Samovar Tea Room.

Interior, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Seattle

Ornate chandelier at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Icons for sale at the bazaar

Delicious rice pilaf

Volunteer in traditional dress outside Babushka's Cafe

Lace curtains in the Samovar Tearoom

Samovar Tearoom

Sandwiches for tea