The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise came to Seattle recently for a visit. The ship was touring the Salish Sea and working with the Puyallup Nation to raise awareness about a liquefied natural gas facility being built in Tacoma, the ancestral lands of the Puyallup. The LNG plant and the Trans Mountain Pipeline threaten the health of the Salish Sea, the waters that surround Tacoma, Seattle, and up into Canada.
Arctic Sunrise is one of three Greenpeace ships that ply the waters worldwide; the other two are the Rainbow Warrior and Esperanza.
While they take actions to protect our marine ecosystems, they also visit ports to meet local people, learn about their environmental issues and educate people about actions they can take to make their communities healthier and more sustainable.
Three years earlier, I had a memorable experience visiting the flagship of Greenpeace, the Rainbow Warrior, when it stopped in Seattle. So, I was excited to learn that the Arctic Sunrise was coming!
An ironic tale told by a crew member: the ship was once a whaling boat! It became available for sale, and Greenpeace eyed it for a new fleet addition. The seller refused to sell it to a group that fights whaling. Greenpeace set up a third party to buy the boat, and the deed was accomplished! Hurrah!
The ship is an icebreaker, has a “rounded keelless hull” (for those of you who like tech specs), and can land a helicopter.
From the Greenpeace website:
In 1997, The Arctic Sunrise became the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic, a previously impossible journey until a 200m thick ice shelf connecting the island to the Antarctic continent collapsed. This was just one of the many signs of climate change which the Arctic Sunrise has helped document.
In 1999, a Japanese whaling ship rammed the Arctic Sunrise while Greenpeace was peacefully protesting its illegal whaling around Antarctica. Fortunately, no crew members were injured.
Aside from their own research, Greenpeace sometimes assists scientists with accessing remote areas.
In 2009, the ship supported a researcher from Cambridge University who was documenting changes in Arctic ice volumes and thickness, as part of climate change studies.
Greenpeace is known for hanging large banners at protests and confronting illegal whaling, but the staff is also respected for conducting serious scientific research. I volunteered in the Washington, DC, office many years ago, and I know how dedicated the staff is.
If you ever get a chance to visit a Greenpeace vessel, I highly recommend it!
Suquamish is a village on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. It is the home of the Suquamish people, Native Americans who are a part of the regional Salish nation. Water, salmon and boating are central to their way of life. This tribe also runs the Clearwater Casino Resort.
It’s the time of year for Pow Wows, and recently, the Suquamish hosted their Chief Seattle Days at the Port Madison Indian Reservation, on Agate Passage, the ancestral home on Puget Sound.
The festivities included a fun run, boat races, a delicious salmon dinner and, of course, dancing.
The dances kicked off with the grand entry, then introductions of veterans and seniors.
A highlight was dances by visitors from Vancouver Island and Mexico.
The Canadians presented several animal dances, with drumming and singing, while the Mexican group presented traditional Aztec ceremonies, with elaborate, dazzling regalia.
I felt honored to witness all these ancient movements. I am happy that these cultures are being preserved and carried forward through the centuries.
The Pacific Northwest is blessed with rich indigenous cultures that have refused to die out and are continuing with renewed spirit and energy. It’s wonderful that they so generously share their traditions with the rest of us.
I was able to visit the grave of Chief Seattle, or Sealth in the native language, which is just up the road from the House of Awakened Culture, the site of the Pow Wow. The city was named for him.
The monument is accompanied by two painted wood panels depicting facets of the chief’s life. He lived from 1786-1866. The site has a circular concrete border, on which is engraved words in the Lushootseed language and also English. Many tributes are left at the base.
This is the cool, wet time of year when moss is at its best. Its emerald plumpness proclaims, “Look at me. My hyper green greenness demands that you see me.”
Against the grayest of gray days and the most muted tones of fallen logs and decaying leaves, moss paints the landscape with exuberant signs of life.
All green was vanished save of pine and yew, That still displayed their melancholy hue; Save the green holly with its berries red, And the green moss that o’er the gravel spread.
I like moss. Moss in my yard, moss on trees, moss on concrete, moss on brick. It drapes the concrete under my fencing. I invite it to spread across my yard, replacing the useless grass at every inch. I’ve gotten rid of most of my front lawn, instead having vegetable plots, a pollinator garden and drought-tolerant shrubs and natives. My yard is a wildlife sanctuary.
There is some moss on the ground, but I’d like more. It would save me from mowing or using mulch around my plantings.
Often overlooked or undervalued by the casual observer, mosses do serve important functions in nature. Classified as bryophytes, mosses help stabilize the soil, reduce evaporation of water and even provide food for some herbivores.
They take nutrients from the atmosphere and therefore can be indicators of air pollution.
One gram of moss from the forest floor, a piece about the size of a muffin, would harbour 150,000 protozoa, 132,000 tardigrades, 3,000 springtails, 800 rotifers, 500 nematodes, 400 mites, and 200 fly larvae. These numbers tell us something about the astounding quantity of life in a handful of moss.
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, author, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses
But most of all, moss is nature’s way of reminding us that nature wins in the end. It conquers manmade surfaces. I like the way it decorates steps and benches and bridge supports. It makes them look like remnants of ancient civilizations and transforms my walks into brief visits to the past.
It is said that faeries sleep on beds of moss. I’ve never seen one, but I keep looking.
Hardware store shelves bulge with “Moss be Gone” and “Moss Out.” I say, keep your money and let the moss run wild!
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
When I went for a long walk recently, I didn’t expect to discover hidden treasures. I walked down to the High Point pond, just a few blocks from my house. My usual route takes me around the pond, where I check out who’s there.
This day there were mallards, American wigeon, a cormorant, and gulls.
But I wanted to extend my walk and explore some new areas. High Point is a huge redeveloped area, with a variety of homes and landscapes. It’s a planned community, with mixed housing for single families, low-income families, and seniors.
There are rain gardens, permeable sidewalks, community gardens and green spaces. The planners did a good job of saving many monstrous mature trees, and a few are labeled. Today I noted a Lawson cypress, which I first thought was a Western cedar, along with a grand specimen of big-leaf maple, called “Papa.”
Along the way, I found these delightful pillars celebrating the Longfellow Creek watershed.
They are composed of blocks of concrete with carved and inlaid creatures representing plants, lizards, fish, birds, a fox and a dragonfly.
I love that nature is appreciated here. There are many immigrant families and children living in this community. I think it’s important to instill knowledge and appreciation of our local natural history. Nearby is also a bee garden, complete with a small building enclosing the hive and a flower and vegetable garden to nourish them.
As I turned down a street that I’d never walked or driven before, I discovered an intriguing sight: something out of a Greek ruin, or perhaps a group of standing stones from the British Isles.
A structure, similar to a pergola, but I’m not sure exactly what to call it, stands in front of a hillside that has large stones scattered about.
The structure is supported by posts with carved wood that portrays such birds as owls and herons.
And, even more fabulous, the concrete walk between the structure and the hillside is incised with a large winged creature reminiscent of the mysterious Nazca “geoglyphs” of Peru!