The following is written for three word Wednesday: generous, penalize, and just.
There are times when I wish I was an accomplished artist or a fantastic photographer, but alas, I am not. At times I struggle to find the right words to convey not only the sights but the sounds and the feeling of a town I visit, or a place that exists only in my mind.
Seabeck is one of those towns.
I spent this past weekend at a retreat at the Seabeck Conference Center. I had to smile as I drove into Seabeck. The business district, if I don’t count the Conference Center, consists of only about a half a dozen buildings, but when I arrived in town I was greeted by a small gray building with a bright blue door. White trim around the window caused the red “Espresso” sign to pop. I decided to go inside. The usual rows of flavors were lined up on a shelf; an espresso machine and a barista were visible from behind a tiny counter. Five or six wooden stools filled the remaining floor space– stools that were all occupied by the locals. They are a generous lot. I discovered that they will tease anyone. They didn’t penalize me for being a visitor; locals and visitors are all teased alike.
With my vanilla latte securely in hand I stepped outside and looked around. The marina is under construction or reconstruction, I am not sure which. But it is aptly named the Olympic View Marina. Although I have seen this view of the Olympic Mountains several times, I still had to pause, reflect, and allow it to take my breath away. Crests of silver rose above the Hood Canal and reflected off the water below.
Just up the road, not more than a few steps away, a large white building stands near the beach. This is the Seabeck Landing General Store. A hint of color fills the planter boxes hanging below its oversized windows. The red door with its “OPEN” sign welcomes patrons inside. I didn’t go in this time, but I know that there is also a small café inside to feed the hungry. It is hard to imagine that this store was once part of a community with a lumber mill that was so busy that the mill built its own shipyard to handle its shipping needs.
Across the street the planks on a wooden bridge enticed me across the lagoon and into the conference center grounds. On prior trips the scene was reminiscent of an old village beckoning the weary. This time however it was obvious that changes were being made. Two or three new buildings, large enough to house multiple occupants have emerged on the hillsides and landscapers were busy hydro seeding the disturbed areas. It wasn’t the same.
Although I know that economically things have to change, it didn’t seem just. I missed the restful feeling of the grounds. The old buildings are still there. The historic inn with its massive dining room and welcoming lobby still offer the nostalgic feel of an era gone by; and the yellow house at the edge of the woods still stands two stories tall; and the older buildings named Reeser and Cedars and Tamarack still dot the landscape; but I couldn’t help but feel that somehow it’s different now.
Saturday morning I arose early and joined a friend for an early morning walk. I noted that towering conifers still inhabit the hillside, the little white chapel still provides a quiet place to meditate and tulips still fill the planting beds. The quiet was suddenly interrupted, as it has been in prior years, by the “rat-ta-tat-tat, rat-ta-tat-tat,” of a pesky old woodpecker as he tapped away on a metal pole. As we crossed the bridge over the old mill-pond a blue heron swooped down out of the sky, made a cursory glide across the lagoon and disappeared again.
To me Seabeck is once again like society, a contradiction of the old and new struggling to see which will survive.