Wayfinding: Nature Hiding in Plain Sight

East First Avenue, from Thornton St to Main St

We descend into what was surely the water of the estuary, in the long ago, with the tule and cattail, mud banks and sand bars — perhaps there were also cottonwood trees here then, as there are now.

There are still empty lots here, but not for long: as of May 2019 there are now construction fences up along the north side of First Ave, and the student and rental housing talked about for “Lot P” in the Great Northern Way Campus Revised Structure Plan may be imminent.

At this point in time though, along with the fragrant medicine of the cottonwood we find the generous fibres of blackberry, bindweed, and the aerials of hedge mustard, tuned into their own frequencies; and the rich colours of aromatic tansy. The brewery has decided to put in some variegated yucca, which someday might get trimmed back and offer us some leaves to weave.

When I moved away from the city I started learning more about plants, like living more isolated from humans makes one more interested in other relationships. When I moved back to the city it felt like a loss, like this place where I lived was concrete desertion we what was once rich forest, big cedars. But as I went in the walk and started noticing the plants I felt like I was getting it back again, that the place was alive after all.

Nicola Hodges, Artist and walk leader