Nice Weather

On Saturday, I biked 30+ miles in an event sponsored by a local brewery. Starting in Redmond, I biked around the north edge of Lake Washington on the Sammamish River Trail and Burke-Gilman Trail, to Fremont. There was rain forecasted, but thankfully the clouds did not break, and the weather was perfect for biking. Around the Bothell area, there was a sharp turn and I fell into the grass. My knee and elbow got caked in dirt, but I got up without a scratch. An old man stopped by the side of the road and asked if I was all right. He helped me twist my bike seat back to its proper position and I was on my way again. After 12 miles or so, the pavement got bumpier and my tailbone started to hurt. But the scenery was great and kept me motivated to see Lake Washington and all the lush trees and lake houses. Biking through Fremont was a nice change of pace too, and I exchanged greetings with a coworker who was jogging by.

At the halfway point, I got an IPA at LTD Bar and Grill. I saw the old man again. He said, “You’ve got to lean into those sharp turns, if you sit upright you will fall.” Then he repeated himself twice, with different words, and rather sternly to make sure his biking tip sunk in. I thanked him for the advice and continued biking.

Afterwards, I met up with some people at the University District street fair. Biking made me hungry, so I ate all sorts of food. We ambled around the fair for a few hours, looking at art, eating food, listening to music. The weather was too good to waste, so I wanted to go kayaking. We went to Agua Verde and kayaked to Gasworks Park and back. Afterwards we stopped by the street fair again to eat some more food. Then we went downtown and watched the new Spiderman movie. The day seemed to never end and my energy kept up. Then when I got home, exhaustion caught up to me and I nodded off to sleep.

The Sense of an Ending book review

I finished reading The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. It was a really great book, short and engrossing. The story is told from the perception of a retired man who had lived a self-described lackluster life. He talks about the imperfect nature of memories and recalls a certain period of his youth. In the latter half of the book, he finds that his memories and perceptions of that period of his life were wrong, suppressed, changed to fit into a narrative that he could make sense of, and certain tragedies in the past had unknowingly been caused by him. After I finished the book I was drained for a day, with that same feeling as stepping outside a movie theater and driving home in silence.

Batter My Heart

BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

-John Donne

I first read this poem in high school and I remember being struck by Donne’s choice of words, especially the end, “you ravish me”. Now that I read it again, I notice how these words are so unlike the humble requests I often make. Donne’s entreaties are full of force and desire. See all his harsh consonants: “Batter my heart… break, blow, burn and make me new.” These sinful thoughts that go through my mind, I wish I were stronger but I am so weak. Only God can save me. I empathize with Donne’s desperation, the craving to be transformed, asking to not just be mended but completely broken and made anew. God is everywhere, and yet I feel so far away. Have I made any progress? Sometimes I don’t feel it, it seems so small and insignificant, so tenuous and liable to revert back to old ways. I want to be closer. I can plead to be held captive to God, but He gives us free will to do as we please, and so long as I am on earth I will be so imperfect. Only if I am enthralled and enraptured by God can I be set free. But what of my salvation is of credit to me? None of it, even the faith that saves comes from God.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. -Ephesians 2:8

What can I do, but pray for God to come closer and give me more faith?

 

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

On Saturday, my friend and I went to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The drive itself was enjoyable, cutting through scenic rivers, fields, and forest. When we got to Mount Vernon, there was a lot of traffic and we didn’t know where to go, but we made it eventually.

The tulips were beautiful, rows upon rows in bloom, framed on all sides by mountains.

Tulip Fields
Tulip Fields

There was also a variety of flowers that were not tulips, such as daffodils. But I came here for the tulips. To me there were just tulips and not tulips, or as I dubbed the not tulips, “nulips”.

Windmill
Windmill

Across the fields in bloom was a display garden that had many species of flowers.

RoozenGaarde display garden
RoozenGaarde display garden
Mount Vernon surrounded by mountains
Mount Vernon surrounded by mountains

All the colors had saturated my vision and I was all tulip-ed out.

On the way home, we stopped by Snow Goose Produce for some ice cream. It was pretty chilly outside and there was a long line. I got an “immodest” portion of huckleberry ice cream.

We went to Taj Palace for dinner. We waited a long time, scarfing down naan to tide us over. The waiter said, “Sorry for making you wait so long. There is a large engagement party in the other room. Your food is ready.” Then he set down two empty plates. “Is this a joke? Where’s the food?” I wondered. Ten minutes later, my order of butter chicken arrived. I thought that incident was funny, one of those endearingly awkward moments. My friend mentioned some other funny interaction, when we were at a dive bar called the Goose Pub and Eatery. Some random man walked over to us and said, “Hey ladies, what are you two doing in this corner over here? Are you watching the baseball game?” I responded, “No.” Then he just walked out the bar without saying a word.

Green Lake at Mt. Rainier

On Saturday I went hiking with ten strangers. We had extremely diverse backgrounds in terms of age, ethnicity, occupation, hobbies, places we’ve lived. But that just made for nine hours of interesting conversations, full of jokes, stories, book recommendations, observations and comparisons of different cities. And we all shared a love of the outdoors.

On the way there, we took a wrong turn and traveled along a gravel path full of potholes. We could see the landscape was decimated by logging. Where there was thick tree cover, there was now exposed dirt with young conifers interspersed. I felt reassured to learn that the logging companies plant more trees than they cut down, but still the effect of logging on the mountaintops was prominent. Someone was old-fashioned and double-checked a paper map instead of trusting in the GPS. He realized we were going the wrong way, and so we turned around back to the right path.

From the Carbon River entrance, we walked three miles to the Green Lake trailhead, passing by vibrant yellow flowers, shallow riverbanks with exposed, hand-sized smooth stones, and towering fir and cedar trees steeped in emerald moss. When the wind picked up, the tops of trees seemed to shake violently. I noticed many fallen trees, uprooted from the weight of the trunks. The trees in the forest were extremely thick, with a diameter greater than my arm span. Some trees had crashed into other trees, snapping or uprooting them as well, and I was surprised to have felt empathy for those smaller trees that had grown tall and were themselves very strong, but were just randomly crushed and now dead by some misfortune of an other massive behemoth of a tree.

We walked a mile up the trail, stopping at the Ranger Creek Falls.

Ranger Creek Falls
Ranger Creek Falls

Then we walked another mile, over bridges and winding switchbacks, until we reached Green Lake.

Green Lake
Green Lake shrouded in mist

There, we ate snacks as rain poured down, rainwater sprinkling our food. Afterwards, we doubled back to the cars.

We ate some solid bar food at Bootleggers in Buckley as the rain came down in sheets. The rain created an incredibly bright rainbow, brilliant against the dark gray sky. The rainbow gave the illusion of touching down just ahead of the car, so as we drove it looked as if the car in front of us was spewing rainbow exhaust.