As the temperatures crept into the 90s (F) yesterday afternoon, Mariah (“The Boss”) and I decided that we wanted to leave our stuffy, non-airconditioned house (who needs A.C. when the temperature rarely goes above 80?) and we headed up to Lake Sacajawea. We packed some folding lawn chairs and a couple of books into the car, stopped and grabbed some fast food, deciding to make the trip into a “picnic” of sorts, and then went looking for some shade. While driving around the lake looking for a relatively uninhabited spot, we recalled the Japanese Garden, which we both enjoy, and tootled around until we found a spot near there to park.
Some people disparage Longview as an unpleasant mill town, but it does have some nice spaces, if one cares to find them, and the Japanese Garden is one of the finest.
We parked, gathered up our food and chairs, and planted ourselves on the bank of the lake.
My old stomach doesn’t always take well to fast food.
SOME folks think I can be a bit overly dramatic about it…
After eating, we read for a while, enjoying the breeze, and occasionally finding ourselves the objects of interest for some inquisitive little jumping spiders. (They were lightning quick and interested in what we were doing, but I’ve read that they aren’t likely to bite people, and the little things were definitely persistent! Our immediate concern was that we might accidently hurt one, but as far as we know nobody was injured during our reading time.)
We read for an hour or so, taking in the scenery and cool of the afternoon. As the sun started to get a bit slanty, maybe around 7:00 P.M. or so, we returned our chairs to the car and headed for the pathway to the little island where the Japanese Garden is situated.
According the City of Longview web site, the Japanese Garden was part of the original park vision when Lake Sacajawea was first designed back in the 1920s. However, with the hardships that came with the Great Depression and then World War II, the bridge to the island was allowed to decay and eventually removed. The island was neglected for the next several decades, until Al George (then Longview Parks Superintendent) designed a new garden for the island based on the Japanese gardens he had seen while in the Navy. In 1990, reconstruction began, as the budget allowed, and a new bridge was built to the island within a few years.
Unfortunately, the Japanese Garden has been vandalized several times since it’s been reinstated, but Mariah and I saw little evidence of any damage on our visit yesterday. (Which is good.) I even remember reading an article in the local newspaper about a Christian group who were protesting against the park because they felt the statue of the reclining figure with a mouse on his shoulder (pictured above) was a representation of Buddha, which they found offensive, and they didn’t think city money should go to such things. (Seriously. This protest might have been in the “Opinion” section of the newspaper, I don’t recall now, but it sparked a lively discussion in our household when my wife and I read the piece.) Luckily, the Parks Department held their ground and the statue was not removed. (Good. I love that little statue—and HATE people who think that their beliefs are the only ones that matter!)
So there you have it, a lovely little spot to come and relax on an otherwise stuffy Sunday afternoon. Mariah and I had a great time, enjoyed the chance to walk around a bit, and had the opportunity to remember why we loved the little island so much. If you’re in the Northwest, it’s worth stopping by and taking a walk. Oh yeah, and it’s free! (We’re poor as heck, so we like free!)
In other news, Mariah and I are heading to the Oregon coast tomorrow morning for a few days. I might not post as much while I’m on the road (texting and driving is a bad combination), but I’m certain I’ll have some exciting photos and stories to share when we get back!!! Until then…
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
P.S. – Some of the photos above were taken by Mariah R. Yates! (Usually the ones with me in them, as I tend not to take photos of myself very often… —RFY)
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