Hawthorn Morn

Mauve Madness

’Tis the season to be mauve at Seattle’s Green Lake.

Tree nuts flock  to Green Lake all year round to marvel at the towering Sequoias, noble Elms and whispering Cottonwoods. In spring the cherry trees gnarled with age billow with blooms of palest pink and white. In autumn golden Plane trees shower the paths with luminous leaves.

Books and poems laud the arboreal splendor of the plantings, which are fastidiously maintained by the city’s parks department.  Cherished by locals and visitors alike, many of the trees were planted to honor significant events or citizens, although not all were planted out of love. For instance,  the city’s publication “Outstanding Trees of Green Lake” notes: “The six Cedars of Lebanon by the tennis courts are the largest in Seattle and have a fascinating history. They were planted in 1934 to placate an irate lawyer.”

Yet while the mighty Redwoods and and soothing Cedars get top billing on the star tree program, even the lesser trees have their moments.

Pinked to perfection.

Right now, it’s showtime for the Red Hawthorns. Normally, they don’t excite much interest, being either too small to catch the eye, or too shapeless to ignite passion. And they’re not even red, really. More a kind of pinky mauve.

Pretty in Pink

But in their own quiet way the masses of tiny mauve blooms sweeten the mix.

Yes, she said, yes, only pinker.

The artist James Whistler once said “Mauve is just pink trying to be purple.”

Maybe so, but I give it points for trying.

A walk on the pink side.

A Girl With Waves in Her Hair

Berkeley artist Deborah Harris created the cover image for my new book.

You can’t stay dry for long in Seattle.

Even if you somehow manage to avoid the persistent drizzle of fall, winter and spring, and step out into the flawless sunshine of late July, thinking you’ve got a clear shot, you will fall under the spell of the sparkling lakes and rivers, the magnificent Puget Sound, and the vast Pacific beyond the Olympic Mountains. There’s no escape. Even if you never get in a boat or paddle a board, you’ll find yourself entranced by the magical water that nurtures Seattle.

It’s a wet world full of wonders, and it’s home to the heroine of my new book, The Goddess of Green Lake.

The goddess of the title isn’t an actual deity of mythic lore. She has no special powers that she knows of, beyond the ability to mesmerize every male who catches sight of her. But Callie Linden, a 20-year-old marine biology student at the University of Washington, has little interest in boys. Her passion is the sea, protecting it from the worst excesses of modern culture – pollution, over-fishing, and rising sea temperatures caused by global warming. Callie is determined to be a part of the solution.

But, as so often happens in real life, things happen that take you off course, and before you know it you’re careening past boulders in the churning rapids, holding on for dear life. For Callie, the first small step off her carefully charted course begins with the discovery of an orphaned baby sea otter.

When I moved to Seattle six years ago one of the first places I visited was the Seattle Aquarium, a treasure chest of delights. But the most unexpected delight of them all for me was the discovery of the sea otters. I fell in love. And right then the idea for a book began in my head, though it was a few years before I had all the pieces put together. The aquarium in my book is fictional, but I’m indebted to the Seattle Aquarium for introducing me to the magical charms of sea otters.

The baby sea otter in my story captivates another character as well. Eel MacGregor, a struggling musician who first appeared in Alice and The Green Man, has moved to Seattle, for all the usual reasons young musicians do. But he’s not finding it so easy to stand out in the glutted local music scene.

Well, you can probably guess where this is going. But it might surprise you.

When you mix otters, music and magic with a little bit of Seattle mist, anything can happen. You can read all about it in The Goddess of Green Lake.


octoberblestSome say it’s the beer. Others praise the pumpkins, the rainbow foliage, the costumed craziness. Of late, zombies seem to be in vogue.

But October has other charms, less flashy, perhaps, but equally satisfying.

An afternoon beside the lake, the whisper of leaves in the breeze, the distant slap of oars as the crew teams skim back and forth,  the sparkle of slanting sunlight on the still water, the whir of rollerblades and the murmur of dog walkers on the path – heaven may be far from this. But this is close enough for now.