A quick congratulations to two pals of mine who have new books out this month. The first to hit the shelves is Langdon Cook’s The Mushroom Hunters: On The Trail of an Underground America. Filled with outlaw fungi hunting, mouth-watering meals, food fanatics, and some damn good writing, Lang’s book is a tale deep into the heart of the thriving subculture of mushroom hunting. After you read Mushroom Hunters, you will never look at a mushroom quite the same way again.
Just out this week is Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild. As she did in her award-winning Crow Planet, Lyanda reveals that even in the urban environment, nature is all around us if we take the time to slow down and observe. With her lyrical and passionate observations, Lyanda opens a wonderful world to the lives that we share the urban wilds with. After you read Urban Bestiary, you will never look at your yard the same way again.
My wife and I recently visited Seattle’s wonderful Museum of History of Industry (MOHAI), which houses a stunningly cool model of the Seattle landscape. The model, on the second floor, illustrates how the topography of Seattle has been shaped over time. It is the most clear illustration of the incredible changes that have taken place in the city over the past 150. The shots that I include focus on the south end of downtown.
Photo one shows Elliott Bay and the tidal flats of the Duwamish River around 1851, the year the first large party of settlers arrived in Seattle. The key is to note where the Duwamish River enters the bay and the several islands at its mouth. What is not shown clearly is the vast tidal flats, half the day under water and half the day an expanse of aromatic mud, that covered around 1500 acres. Beginning almost immediately, Seattleites began to dump material, such as sawdust and trash, onto the flats. In 1895, wholesale filling of the flats began when ex-governor Eugene Semple organized the Seattle and Lake Washington Waterway Company. Over the next 20 years almost 90 percent of the flats were filled, primarily with silt and sand dredged from the flats, but also with fill washed off of Beacon Hill and from the Jackson Street and Dearborn Street regrades.
Photo two shows the new landscape dropping in.
Photo three shows the post fill landscape, including Harbor Island, which was finished in 1910 and became the largest man-made island in the world. (There is some debate about when Harbor Island was completed. I chose 1910 based on newspaper stories.)