There are exactly four shops in town, and if you don’t blink, you might see them. That’s not what you’re here for, though. Follow the road as it winds through trees and orange-flagged property lines, and on the left — there. That stretch of hillside, untamed despite the trails woven through it. That slice of magic is why you’re here.
If you stand at the top and peer towards the horizon, you can catch the tiniest glimpse of the Puget Sound shining below. If we just trimmed those trees, mom always said so wistfully, we’d have a proper ocean view.
We never did trim those trees, but it’s alright — the glimmer is enough.
There’s a wealth of flora here, and if you’re young enough, a wealth of magic. Down the hill – through the tunnel of trees with their branches interlaced like fingers, past the lovingly hewn treehouse and the gently swaying tire swing, right at the fork – the stream runs its cyclical route.
The water flows gently, clear like glass and cold like ice. Dip your fingers beneath its current, let it wash away the vestiges of general store licorice and the sap of lilac-toned bleeding hearts. If you give it long enough, it can wash you down to your bones, can make you into someone new.
Along the bank is a microcosm of Pacific Northwest verdure. Peel back the madrone bark like paper and run your fingers over the tacky exposed trunk; press your fingers to it and search for a heartbeat. Pinch amethyst foxgloves off their emerald stalks and arrange them carefully in the bushes – fairy dresses, Abbie always called them.
And if you dig deep enough in the damp soil there along the stream, you might even find Hagen roots – carefully woven through generations, watered with love and reverence.
Those roots are mine, that stream my blood.