Summer Rain

It’s raining here.

Seems like we used to get a lot more summer rain here in the Pacific North West than we do now. I’m not a hot weather person, so I enjoy it when the clouds move in, the temperatures drop into the pleasant seventies and then the rain comes down. I’m a little concerned it may knock a lot of the fruit off the plum trees, but the raccoons have been working on that task anyway. It’s a daily race to get the ripe plums before they do.

Haven’t had the best week ever. Began it when I accidentally left my vehicle unlocked. The next morning, it was obvious someone had entered it and gone through every item inside it looking for valuables. Well, I don’t leave anything valuable in the van, so that was no problem. They did steal my registrationa and insurance card; I think they thought it was an envelope for cash or something. It was a pain in the neck to get those replaced, but I still thought I’d got off easy.

Then, night before last, thieves hit our neighborhood again. They came into the yard and stole two of our bicycles. Luckily, they left the children’s bikes. What they got was a 15 year old Schwinn that I used, and my spouse’s 15 year old street bike. And our helmets. I suppose it’s a sign of the time when old street bikes are worth stealing.

Tacoma has more than its fair share of theft of these kinds. In some ways, we’re a troubled city. Our part of the NW seems to create and export serial killers: The Green River Killer, the Beltway Sniper, Ted Bundy— those are just off the top of my head. We get more than our share of sexual predators here, and car theft in rampant. One of our deputy prosecutors wrote a book, fictional but based on Tacoma, called Methlehem. We have a serious drug problem in our area. So I’ve had a number of people ask me why we still live in this city.

The truth is, that’s not the Tacoma I know. I get burned by that other Tacoma sometimes, in the form of a stolen bike or a car broken into. But for the most part, my Tacoma is a city on Puget Sound, with easy access to beaches and mountains. It’s a tough little blue collar town in some ways, one of the busiest ports on the West Coast of the US, with trade ties to all sorts of Pacific Rim nations and cities. And there’s an incredible amount of artistic creativity here.

A lot of the creative people in my city are what I call blue collar artists. They work all day at a wide range of jobs and create in their spare time. Art of all media, poetry, music and writing comes out of this little town. Not too many of our artists will rise to national or even state-wide prominance, but I love their local take on beauty. Sometimes those who do achieve fame and fortune return here and put a great deal back into our community. Thanks to the influence of home boy Dale Chihuly, Tacoma has a lively glass arts community. Lamda Award Winning novelist Brent Hartinger (Geography Club)is a local writer who also puts time into fighting censorship of children’s books and mentoring young writers. I think Tacoma breeds some very tough artists.

It pleases me no end to go into a local coffee shop or bookstore and see the works of local artists on the walls. I like our public art, and our SOTA, that’s our School of the Arts, an arts high school that exists in the heart of downtown and meets in several locations. I like to go downtown to one of the local coffeeshops and watch the kids hurrying past to get to their next classes or stealing a moment of time for a quick cup of coffee. I love looking at them and wondering where they will be five, ten, twenty years from now. There is so much raw promise there, so many dreams. I watch those kids and I feel like I live in one of the richest cities in the world. And it’s not just the kids from SOTA that are out there writing and painting and dancing. So many of our young artists are just out there doing it on their own, jumping into creativity and learning to swim in its swift currents.

I’m glad I live here. Seattle is nice, and so is Olympia, but Tacoma is my town, rain, bike thieves and all.

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