You would not think that the Rhododendron, common cockroach of the Northwest landscape, could lift the heart, but there it is, flowering its fool head off, about to fall in the ocean.

“Lotta cops around,” I remarked to my coworker Kelsey as we drove to a garden on 70th and Ravenna a couple Wednesdays ago in Seattle. There were cops with guns drawn on the bridges, like they were looking for someone.

We went to the Roosevelt Whole Foods, which I love to hate, both for its fleecing of the less fortunate and the parade of conspicuously correct consumption. I had my backpack on the floor next to my chair.

“Baby,” an old guy on a walker said to me, “get your bag outta my way.” He sat down next to us. His companion, a woman in her 60s, was telling him (and us, eavesdropping) that four people were just shot and killed at Cafe Racer, a few blocks away.

“I have a gun,” she said. “I got it from my ex-husband. I’ve got bullets all over the place, but don’t know how to load them! I keep it in the pocket of my jumpsuit.”

Heidi swimming by WWII gun turret.

In the parking lot, a woman was in such a hurry to pass us that she scraped her car’s maroon paint all over our bumper. “Stop, you’re scraping your car,” Kelsey said.

“I don’t think it’s my fault!” she snapped.

Four people just got shot down the street, and you’re in a hurry to get out of the Whole Foods parking lot. I made a solemn oath not to go back there. Three horsemen of the apocalypse is enough.

In the secluded, suburban garden, with its shady grottoes for harboring monsters, we pondered the absurdity of gardening while choppers roared overhead, the gunman still on the loose. My insides were flipping over, but Kelsey was cool. “I’m from Tacoma. I always expected to die in a hail of bullets,” she said.

You would not think that getting a lap dance from doom would help, that Washaway Beach would be a comfort.

I told my neighbor Resha this story and she said, “You’re here now.”

Resha, Stanley, Yoshi

I would not generally waste beer on slugs, but two of my Grammy’s hollyhocks are trying to prosper. Since they are biennial, there may not be too many more chances here, and I had these three ancient Rainiers that somebody left behind at a party.

I went with a friend to a wedding at a resort in Scottsdale, outside Phoenix, awhile back. There were supposedly seven pools there, but we could only find five. The staff would bring you a drink while you were IN the pool.


The slugs do it one better: the pool IS the drink! As we used to say at art school, I’d like to see it taken further.

I’ve told you about the sorrows of my vanishing forest. The Elfin Grove is irreplaceable, but there is a new secret path through a different, enchanted primordial forest, marked charmingly with red arrows, very Hansel and Gretel.

Of course, people do go in both directions.
-Scarecrow, Wizard of Oz

I just had my 45th birthday. Halfway to 90! I have been coming to this area for my birthday since 1994. My friend Lori took me to her uncle’s place in Tokeland my first year here, and I’ve come back for my birthday ever since.

I was having breakfast at the Tokeland Hotel one year. (You should do this too, and get the Crab Benedict!) There, I read a handwritten “Guide to the South Beaches” brochure that mentioned Washaway Beach. First I ever heard of it. Serendipity is funny.

Buoy and gooseneck mussels.

My coworker Sarah was telling me that her mom has a Peruvian cleaning lady who is also into cleansing Auras. One thing you can do is write a check to yourself, and in the “For/Memo” you write “Abundance.” Another is to put an odd number of limes, with X’s cut into them, in a bowl under your bed for an odd number of days. Then you put them in a black plastic bag and get ’em off your property without looking directly at them.

Space under my bed is very limited, and I do have a lot of superstitions already. But I am all for cleansing. Another year. I try to wipe negative thoughts from the mind. There used to be some graffiti on a concrete pipe down by the jetty that said EVERY STEP A PRAYER.

Burning it doesn’t make it go away.

“Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle,” my Dad told me.

Bird migration

My neighbor Craig came by at dusk to tell me to get my camera and come see the bird migration. There were thousands and thousands, and it went on and on and on, pelicans interspersed with small black birds. I took a few of my trademark blurry Erika’s Wildlife Photos, then realized I was experiencing a moment, not a picture. Craig said they were chasing anchovies.

Anchovies? Herring? Silvery fish were literally jumping on the beach. They looked like the fish that you see old Asian women buying at Mutual Fish.

Well, what kind of omens do you need? This was auspicious and spectacular, eliciting gratitude and wonder, as if I just got a big fat check from Abundance.

             To Whom It May Concern: thanks.





About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at www.erikalangley.com.
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2 Responses to Abundance

  1. That was beautiful, Erika.

  2. Beautiful photos. Thank you. Abundance is often most keenly appreciated by those who have little. When my dad was pastor at Twin Harbors Lutheran in Grayland, the poorest members of the congregation left us the richest gifts: fat crabs snapping on our doorstep, fresh vegetables from the garden and lovely clams which we fried for breakfast. Generosity blooms from the mustard seed.

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