Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Newport Hills Symbols

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting hosted by Mary Pat Byrne, Arts Specialist for the City of Bellevue Arts Commission, to introduce Newport Hills neighbors to the artist Bruce Myers. His body of work is impressive and he's worked with many communities around the region, including Eastsound on Orcas Island and the gorgeous Edmonds waterfront. He will be designing some features along our "main street" and they asked for some help in identifying symbols that would be meaningful to the neighborhood.

One of the central issues that arose during our meeting was the dilemma of a "native" symbol vs. an imported one. Pyramidalis and puffballs are out (see earlier posts). What about maple leaves?

The beautiful Japanese fine-leaf shrubs grace many a Newport Hills frontyard, and though they're an import, I think we'd all agree they're dear to our hearts. But as for the big-leaf variety, we're in the middle of raking/blowing/drain-clearing season. Pesky things! Oh, and let's not mention synthetic turf (see even more earlier posts).

Then I thought of our ubiquitous Douglas fir trees. Pseudotsuga menziesii. Their lowly cones that we are forever raking out of our gardens and lawns. Sprouting new trees that grow overnight. Neighbors nearby have never had to purchase a Christmas tree because they just cut one down from their backyard each year.

Look closely at the cone pictured here and
recall the story of the mouse who got caught, which changed forever how I look at them

As for the equally ubiquitous alder tree, even more lore, both Irish and Norse, abounds:

Click here for cool background on magickal properties of the alder I love the way the tiny pleated leaves are the greenest thing around in early spring.
Catkins and cones in miniature.

And then there's the mushroom, pictured above. They're all over my backyard, woodpile, flower pots--turning up in the most unexpected places. Their structure is fascinating to me, and the resemblance to an umbrella seems an appropriate symbol for our rainy climate.

Speaking of rain--should that be included somehow? A feature that comes to life when it rains? I've been told there are underground creeks snaking through Newport Hills, finding their way to Lake Washington below and that some houses sit on swamps, and others are dry as a bone. It would be interesting to see if maps exist that show their location.

On a related note, I seem to recall a house being swallowed up in a cave hole that suddenly opened up, left from the mining operations that thrived briefly in Newcastle in the early 20th century. But maybe I should leave that story to Newcastle.

And then there are all the possibilities of the fiddlehead fern, edible as well as beautiful:


T. Clear said...

I vote for the fiddleheads or the alders, but I'm not allowed a vote, I think.

House swallowed up by collapsing mine shaft??!! I want to know more....

RobinB said...

Thanks for the vote, T! It counts in my book. There was a news article about a hole that opened up in someone's backyard--don't know if it swallowed the whole house. I'll look it up.

Blogalot said...

I like the fiddlehead too. But I vote for the MARMOT, Washington's state "endemic mammal." Don't forget the other state mascots: rhododendron, goldfinch, dragonfly, orca, steelhead, and Pacific Chorus Frog (my second vote). I do also like the psilocybin mushroom because it looks rather like the Space Needle. Bt maybe we should leave that for Fremont.

RobinB said...

You're on, Bloggie. I like the direction you're taking this. But have you forgotten, DUH!! slugs!!! I've only ever seen marmots in the mountains, but coyotes are definitely endemic here. Howling at the full moon just last night! Yipyipyip