I love this place, this old military outpost of yesteryear. I am grateful to be here, to call it home, and to be a resident, if only for a little while.
It’s not just Fort Worden and its environs that draw me here; my mother’s family lived on a farm near Chimacum in the 1920’s and my cousin was born in the Forts’ hospital in 1928. Family, friends and fellow artists have been coming here for years to relax, to re-create and create in this beautiful and inspiring environment.
And now from my cozy residency cabin I prepare for my morning tour, my run; standing, stretching to the ceiling, grateful to be alive and in the moment; running gear donned, stretch again, out the door, into the morning, the new day, smiling, running (really kind of a lope), overcast, beautiful light through the gray clouds. Fresh rain on the pavement, but not now, passing walkers, smiling, exchanging “good mornings” and in my head my running chant begins.
And now down the hill past the old command center, the barracks and the parade grounds, turn left around the corner, down the road that runs along the beach, the light house on point Wilson comes into view, the Cascade’s across the waters of Admiralty Inlet, Mount Baker and its rugged neighboring peaks glistening in the morning sun, glimmering reflections in the water, rounding the bend in the road, looking out across the Straights of Juan de Fuca towards Canada and Victoria.
My eye, like an old fashioned, slow moving hand-cranked movie camera, pans the horizon. Out past the kelp beds, a seals head breaks the surface, slowly turning then disappearing. The scents of scotch broom and seaweed fill the air. Waves gently lap the shore.
Now the path turns north by northwest and the massive concrete remnants of Battery Kenzie come into view. My pace slows as I approach this once formidable “Coastal” line of defense. Now standing here very still in the solitude of the moment, I listen while history rewinds to a moment long ago….in my mind’s eye I can see the lookouts scanning the peaceful morning horizon, ever searching for the unseen enemy. Listening carefully, imagine…the target is sighted, coordinates are plotted, orders called out, soldiers’ footfalls echo through the bunker as they hurry to their battle stations.
Ancient machinery, gears turning, screeching, hoisting powder and shells from the bowels of the bunker to the gun deck above. Breech open, shell first, then the powder, wheel spins, breech closed, hands cover ears, orders called out, “fire!” Then a thundering explosion, the odor of cordite permeates the air as a 12 inch, 900 pound projectile hurls through the atmosphere, splashing into the water thousands of yards from its origin.
The big gun recoils, disappears back into its carriage, out of sight from the imaginary enemy. All’s quiet now, the soldiers’ voices, their footfalls, the machinery, the gun’s explosion all recede into the past. Seagulls soar, ravens call, the path turns south by southwest heading back along the road, parallel to the beach, back up the hill, round the bend to the right and another right, heading north, still jogging, climbing up again and now on the porch of my cabin, I turn and survey once more this sacred place I get to call home – if only for a little while.