Yesterday the weather was so impossibly perfect that I had no choice but to sneak away from work as soon as the digits five-zero-zero presented themselves on my clock. What a gleeful moment! I walked due South across campus, past a thousand students lounging in the sunshine, and crossed the Montlake drawbridge. Luckily, I survived the crossing. The bridge did not lift up as I walked, so I did not find myself hanging onto the guardrail for dear life, legs dangling 100 feet above a rowing crew in the canal below, who had paused their athletic efforts to watch me struggle.
So, having avoided catastrophe, I wandered to the water’s edge at MOHAI in hopes of joining my favorite trail. The Foster Island trail is a raised walkway that hops from MOHAI to two tiny islands where lakeside wildlife is abundant. Ducklings and the whole shebang. But there would be no ducklings for me. The trail was closed due to high water conditions at Lake Washington.
Instead, I crossed 520 and skirted the border of the Arboretum for a while until I came to the pine grove. Here I found a little footbridge which took me straight onto the sunny grassway that snakes though the entire park. It’s lined with azaleas of all varieties, and they are in full bloom now. There were a number of lovely scents on the air.
But what I was really looking for were rhododendrons. I am happy to report that rhododendrons are indeed available for viewing at the Arboretum; I found upwards of fifty of them ranging in size from 24 inches to 24 feet tall. The tall ones have bona-fide trunks and have probably stood for more decades than I’ve been alive.
One highlight of my visit to the Arboretum was the Puget Sound Rhododendron Hybrid Garden, which taught me a thing or two. Apparently, although the Pacific Northwest has the best climate in the U.S. for growing rhododendrons, they were a relative rarity in gardens until the 1940s. It was then that British rhododendron breeders sent local gardeners samples of their most-prized seeds, fearing that the WWII bombing raids would damage their plants irretrievably. Soon a cadre of what must’ve been eccentric rhododendron breeders sprang up in Seattle who began to meet weekly and argue about flower sizes and hardiness.
Finally, hungry and with thoughts of laundry in my head, at 6:30 I found a 48 bus and was home in minutes.