Behind my house in Renton there are 22 acres of woods. You can see them through the fence in my backyard where they provide a wonderful backdrop of green making my own gardening efforts easier.
I have enjoyed their quiet beauty and the birds and wildlife who live in them. I’ve welcomed the deer who occasionally peer through the fence and let them prune my raspberry bushes when I forgot to close the gate.
Of all the friendly birds that have stopped by my yard (and there are many), my favorite was the red crested pileated woodpecker. I’ll never forget watching that giant bird with the bright red plume as he stopped for a drink and made my bird bath look small. I have never seen another one in the wild.
It has already been a couple of years since we learned the woods had been sold. At the time, neighbors voiced their complaints to the city and various hearings were held. Environmental studies were performed and inventories of wetlands, trees, birds and mammals were taken. But things being as they are it was only a matter of time until the clearing of the land and the building of the houses would begin.
I wonder how the trees feel about it? Do they know the white tag or the blue tag or the pink tag pinned to their bark determines their fate? Have the animals perhaps sensed what is coming and already relocated to more permanent homes?
Recently some friendly men came by and we asked them when work would begin.
“Soon,” they replied.
“But we have heard that for years,” we answered and laughed together.
But this time it really is soon. Their mission is to prepare the infrastructure to support the new homes. Tree felling will begin within weeks and utilities should follow after. The peace and quiet will be gone for too long a time I fear. I wish it was already over and done.
I thought I would take a final walk through the woods before the logging begins and photograph what will be lost. I follow the trail where young boys run and play and older boys walk their dogs.
I come across this comfy stool fit for a fairy.
and I find ferns with new spring fronds unfurling ..
The bleeding hearts are in bloom…
and the salmonberries are blossoming.
And of course there are the trees.
I find this tangle that will likely stick together while coming down.
They are ordinary perhaps, these Tiffany Park Woods, nothing special except to those who live near them. Or in them.
I remember the first time I heard the deep hooting of the Great Horned Owl in the dead of night. I wondered at the size of an owl that had such a booming voice resonating in the woods. I got up hoping to catch a glimpse of him but of course it was too dark. Silly I know. There are other owls too but I don’t know what kind. I’ve tried to remember the rhythms of their calls so I could look it up the next day. But by morning I have usually forgotten. I will miss the owls.
I grew up next to woods in West Seattle and have fond memories of the many hours spent in them; running on the trails, making beds of the ferns, and playing the games of childhood. Maybe children don’t play in woods anymore. But I still believe there is value in having some patches of wilderness in urban spaces.
The woods in Tiffany Park will soon be gone but my woods in West Seattle still remain. For that I am thankful.