It’s The Simple Things

This weekend we received a gift we’ve been waiting for ever since we left the landlocked desert and moved to Seattle.

I’ve been feeling murky lately, not depressed exactly but weighted down by various thoughts and responsibilities. I complained to Mr. Punkernoodle that we haven’t been doing enough “fun” stuff, that lately it seems all our spare time is spent planting, laundering, shuffling bank accounts and hunting down kindergarten options. So Saturday we set out for Richmond Beach, bahn mi in hand, kids squealing, the dog slobbering excitement all over the back of the rig.

It was a gorgeous afternoon thanks to the early dose of spring we’ve been getting around here. The sun was sparkling off the Sound, the air was a bit foggy and the Olympics jutted out above the water looking very majestic before melting into the mist. The girls occupied themselves by climbing the driftwood obstacle course and exploring a fort , and the dog delighted herself by trying to hump other dogs (always the guru of embarrassment, her).

And we just sat, leaning into each other and gazing out at the blue expanse. I joked that it was a lovely day but not exactly the freedom I had been fantasizing about (think kid-free, warm-weather beach with cocktail in hand). And then, I gazed up and saw it: An umbrella spray off the surface of the water, a few hundred yards from shore. Followed by a silky breach of black, gliding left to right, gracefully emerging and submerging. “I just just just sssssaw a whale!” I managed to sputter. Mr. Punkernoodle was nodding, jaw dropped, pointing, along with half the people on beach. We frantically called the girls over and watched, amazed, as more umbrella sprays appeared. Over the next hour, we saw it many times, spouting and, several times, breaching. The Mr. thought they were gray whales, scouring the shallow depths for some type of crustacean they apparently like to feed on.

As the afternoon moved toward dinnertime, the whale(s) moved farther out, the spouts becoming tiny cotton balls on the horizon. But we were transfixed. Even as we trudged up the hill and across the railroad bridge to the parking lot, we craned our necks back toward the Sound for one last chance to see the massive creature. In the car on the way home, Punkernoodle 1 kept exclaiming over and over again, “I can’t believe we saw real whales — real ones! Not pretend, but real!”

I understand her awe. Eight years after moving to the Pacific Northwest, and without paying for a “sightseeing tour” (been there, done that, and let me say that getting a glimpse of a whale through a choppy, freezing veil of seasickness is not really my cup of tea), we finally were graced with one of the most graceful creatures on earth. It was an unexpected gift and a simple, priceless pick-me-up.

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