Saturday, September 22, 2012

We Ran Away to an Island. And then I digressed a bit into livestock and stadiums.

Map of Vashon Island - detail from a mosaic sundial at Vashon's Ober Park. Does anyone know who the artists is?
mosaic Sundial by megan_n_smith_99
mosaic Sundial, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.
We landed on Vashon Island sometime in early January, 1978. It was the first time my sister and I had ever set foot on the island. I am not sure if it was also our first ferry ride - perhaps. Our parents had bought a 4 acre farm located in the region of the island called Center - i am sure you can guess where it was. We lived about 2 miles up a steep hill from the beach. Everyone on vashon lives near a beach - or at least a shoreline. Our beach was called KVI, because the KVI radio towers were there. There was a salt water marsh behind a small lagoon. At very low tides there was a long sandbar to walk out on. There were always things to find - flotsam, jetsam, shells, rocks, clouds, sky.*

We were the third owners of the farm. I am not sure if the first owners had any livestock - though they did have a very good landscape designer and there was something in bloom year round. The second owner had horses. Or maybe it was just 1 horse. As I recall the fences were not in great condition and they were not suitable for smaller animals like sheep. Sheep, although they are about a stupid as God made any creature, do have some sort of instinct to escape. Perhaps it is a dim memory of the days before they were domesticated. And sheep, of all animals, are surely very domesticated. The will and ingenuity has been generally bred out of them, but the occasional escape artist will come along from time to time. As I recall our most gifted escape artist was a young ram named Abbie. He was born on Abe Lincoln's birthday. The newborn lambs also regularly hopped though the fence and grazed along the side of the road. There were many times when people stopped by the house to tell us that the lambs were out. They were, and there was nothing to be done about it but to wait for them to have their snack, hop back in, and grow big too big to fit through the fence. And then start all over the next year. Fortunately the grass by the roadside was lush and succulent and I don't think they generally went into the road when tempted by such bounty.

At any rate, the fences had to be redone before we could acquire any animals. I am not sure how long that took, but I do remember the excitement of bringing home and name our first little flock - Bert the ram, later named Bert Roland after a family friend, Snuffy, who looked like the Snuffleupagus with shaggy brown wool, Gabby, a pretty white sheep who had a lot to bleat about, and I think there was one more but I can't recall its name. Please note Burt was also named after a Sesame Street character. We were 7 or 8 then, we had our inspirations.

Most of the flock we eventually owned were descended from those original few. I can only recall purchasing 3 more additions to the flock later - Cinnamon, so named for her beautifully colored wool, Bonnie, and Jedediah Smith, our second ram. Bert's brain had sort of gone off by then and he had become unpredictable and quite unpleasant to be around, so we upgraded to the newest model. Jed was quite young when we got him an rode home from auction in the cab of the truck with the rest of the family. I do not think the smell of sheep ever really left that hulking green bohemuth. Jed's father was an absolutely enormous ram called The Quad, as he was a quadruplet. And I think Jed was a twin or triplet? We never had more then twins on our farm.

I seem to recall that sheep auction as having been in the Kingdom? Could that even be possible? The Kingdom was Seattle's beloved and iconic stadium, so I am probably remembering that wrong. It graced downtown Seattle from 1976 until 2000. It was demolished in 2000, but the original construction and repair costs won't be paid off until 2016. There is something wrong here. Also, the 2 stadiums that replaced it, while all high-tech and stuff, are kind of ugly in my opinion. Though city planners seldom do ask my opinion.

The destruction of the Kingdome was recognized by Guinness World Records for the largest building, by volume, ever demolished by implosion. You could feel the WHUMP all around town. Apparently in the aftermath terrified rodents fled the wreckage and moved into local businesses - many of which had sub-basements that are now part of the Seattle Underground - surely an ideal nesting ground for rodents.

*your vocabulary lesson of the day:
Flotsam Origin:
1600–10; < Anglo-French floteson, derivative of floter to float < Old English flotian

Jetsam Origin:
1560–70; alteration of jetson, syncopated variant of jettison

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