“HOOT! HOOT!” My fingers round into a megaphone. I commence a series of sharp owl cries — a means of communication the kids and I developed for when we’re exploring.
I hear giggling and fast-moving bodies zigzagging through the trees like the Lost Boys. Technically, the Kubota Gardens is just outside the Renton border and if you want to split hairs, it’s not really Never, Never Land.
But Kubota Gardens sure feels like a magical place strolling through the abundant bamboo, yew, birch and other flowering trees and mature shrubs.
An unbelievable feast for the hungry eye . . . desperate for summer fun in Renton that’s affordable, kid-friendly and not the same-old, same-old. I reminded myself to thank my friend Dina Davis for turning me on to this little gem.
“You’ve definitely got a rooster . . . he came over and tried to get on my crippled chicken,” My neighbor informed me.
I was wide-eyed and speechless leaning up against the chain link fence that runs the length of our yards.
Adhered against our joint fences were two very different interpretations of urban chicken coops and their respective runs.
Recently, I read on the Internet that the domesticated fowl can fill a spiritual hole in an increasingly technology-focused society. In other words chickens have become chic.
Back in March, for the price of a video game, we loaded the minivan with four adopted fuzzy chicks, feed, a heat lamp, bulb, a water feeder and a feed box from Keppler’s Feed Store in Renton. Having no experience in raising chickens.
I had high hopes of raising hens as a fun activity with fresh, free-range eggs as a fringe benefit.
And yet four months later, here I stood, defensive, feeling like I was talking about my adopted errant teenage son run wild in the neighborhood.
I love it that my kids love to catch and with a little (no, a lot of prodding) release them back into the wild. I remember doing the same thing with my sister when I was a kid. There’s nothing like that rush of waiting and wading knee deep in the swampy ditch on the side of our house and then, grab! Caught one.
Our neighbor who’s lived on our lake for years said the frogs used to jump in the hundreds around their murky habitat pools on the side of the road…now it’s a real find when Amelia observes a few. So you can imagine her delight when she actually feels the slimy, delicate froggy between her gentle fingers. Both are so precious.
“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people shoud see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”
– Theodore Roosevelt, Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter 1905.
“That’s worth about $20 at auction,” Larry Mroczek said matter of factly.
As if he’d seen everything before, including me and my picture. The one I’d just lugged down Third Street with a frame the size of a small canoe. Mroczek Brothers Auctioneers have been in business for more than 45 years. Larry is the patriarch of the family.
As we stood, Larry and I, considering the subject of my painting, the image of a woman peering deeply into a peach-sized glowing fireball held aloft in her fingertips.
“According to my husband,” I begin feeling a little like I’ve just pulled my Dorian Gray out of the attic, “I have unwittingly amassed art with a similar theme.” I smiled at Larry. The watercolor scroll was called “A Woman Searches the Unknown by Following her Heart.”
Larry was a bit intimidating. He was cool as a cucumber. His demeanor reminded me of a thousand-year-old vampire in the presence of an only slightly amusing human. I don’t mean to compare him to the undead — he was sophisticated in a worldly, no nonsense, Donald Trump sort of way.
And here I was wearing a Transformer T-shirt, black muddy leather boots and jeans with mud caked at the knees.