Good Morning Alki!
It’s cold this morning. The seals are barking from their rest stations on the buoys in the harbour. Seagulls look for a hopeful handout as I walk by. Coffee in hand, the wind is blowing at Alki Beach.
Alki is the most western point in West Seattle. It juts out into the Puget Sound cheerfully mocking the wind, but frozen fingers have the last laugh. I want my Dickens Gloves!
Alki was the home of the Duwamish people long before the Denny Party landed on the sandy beach in 1851. Alki’s original name was New York Alki, and the early settlers hoped it would become a second New York City.
It was a cold hard winter for the settlers and the Duwamish People led by Chief Seattle, helped the new settlers survive their first winter. After one winter camped on the windy beach, most of the party moved across Elliot Bay, to the less exposed shores of Seattle’s waterfront. On some days with the wind blowing tears of cold from my eyes, I can well imagine how they felt. I too would have packed up and moved!
Alki is a Chinook word for eventually or bye and bye. It is a fitting name, as it is easy to wander along the waterfront, just taking your time, sort of by and by, eventually getting back to your real life and it’s demands.
Before modern times took hold, the easiest way to get to Alki was by boat. Years later, you can still reach Alki by boat, only now it’s called the Seattle Water Taxi.
Alki has grown into a California type beach community– a little like Newport Beach, but with its own style of crowded houses, endless smoke from the beach fires that can burn all night. If Alki lacks the year round sun, the yachts, and the ocean surf, here seals surf the waves and once in a while a whale rises up and disappears into the sound.
On the beach, looking out into the sounds stands a miniature Lady Liberty, donated by the Boy Scouts in 1952. She stands guard, reminding us all freedom and charity is a precious gift.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset fates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
EMMA LAZARUS (July 22, 1849 – November 19, 1887
Emma wrote this poem when she was 34 years old. She was to die of cancer some five years later never knowing the impact her poem was to have on the world.