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The View from Denny Hill

Square Lake is no more.  It was in what is now North Seattle, at latitude 47 42' 8" North., longitude 122 19' 22" West a shallow, marshy body of water to imagine surrounded by alders, fed by Thornton Creek, where Chinook salmon spawned.  Where Square Lake was is now a parking lot for a shopping mall.  Thornton Creek runs beneath the asphalt in a culvert, and the City of Seattle stubbornly insists through lawsuit after lawsuit that it was never a creek at all.  But as our logo, the I Ching symbol "Shi'ih" maintains, the water remains, under the earth, powerful, waiting. 

I have come to feel I am writing from the top of Denny Hill.  That was the highest hill in Seattle, until it was sluiced into Puget Sound on behalf of real estate speculators.   Admittedly, a susceptibility to the pull of the lost is a known characteristic of old men, and I am now, unless life-extension medicine makes some quick, unexpected advances, certainly in the latter half of my days.  There is nothing so evocative to come as the scent of her hair in the sun as we sat with our feet in Bear Creek all those years ago, or the way the light flooded El Dorado Canyon from a break in the clouds. 

But as Carrington and I begin this new journal, we're not trying to celebrate any past, or even less to draw attention to the species and languages going extinct this minute, the creek being bulldozed today for new apartments.  Everything we see is transitory.  Wait a little while, and it will all be gone.  The galaxies themselves come and go.  Whatever is, is doomed. 

There is an old Zen tale of a monk chased by a tiger, tumbling in his hasty flight off a cliff.  Hanging precariously to the side of the cliff by the roots of a vine, he spies a wild strawberry and plucks it.  It is so sweet!

All that is will pass away.  But for a moment it was held in a consciousness.  Witnessed.  Felt.  Captured in language.  All poetry is elegiac. 

Journals come and go much more quickly than creeks and hills.  Our friends and families, while trying to be kind and supportive, can't hide their deep certainty that it is foolish to begin this one now.  We believe that it is the most important work we could possibly be doing, helping with the urgent task of recording that which has been witnessed.

We invite your contributions.  We subscribe to no school, promote no established viewpoint.  We want to print writing that knows how far over the cliff it is, writing shot through with the sweetness of the strawberry.

L.A. Heberlein

 

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