Opinion Columns & Blogs

The big city is exciting, but I’ll stick with Puyallup

Reader columnist Karin Leeburg Larsen
Reader columnist Karin Leeburg Larsen Staff photographer

Every day, there is a moment on my commute home riding the Sounder when my eyes are drawn from the pages of the book I’m reading to the scenery flashing by … when the buildings and warehouses decrease and the fields begin to appear … when the gray, metallic, multi-windowed high-rises are replaced by stalks of rhubarb rising red and green from the dirt, and giant squash leaves bend softly to the earth … when the concrete and asphalt are displaced by fields of daffodils and wildflowers … and I’m reminded why I love coming home.

Working in Seattle is unique, especially when I’ve worked in smaller towns and suburbs most of my adult life. Where else can you pass upwards of a dozen food trucks while on a stroll during lunch? I find the city intoxicating with its smells, sounds and sights, every day offering a new glimpse into a different side of life in the city.

Some of the people I pass could easily walk off the pages of Vogue magazine, impeccably put together from head to toe, while I struggle to find a different T-shirt to throw on with my jeans and flip-flops (or tennis shoes, depending on the weather). The smorgasbord of people lined up at crosswalks, bus stops and the train station are fodder for my writer’s mind, constantly crafting characters for my next novel, trying to peer into the minds of my fellow commuters as they make the daily trek to the city for work and, sometimes, play.

But I’ve always loved the sight of a big, open field, grass waving in the wind, clothes hanging on a line, wildflowers stubbornly popping their heads up wherever they will. I can get lost for hours driving through the countryside looking at dilapidated barns, hay freshly cut and baled, animals grazing and tractors standing like beacons amidst the endless wilderness.

While there is a certain kind of awe the skyline of a magnificent city can inspire, I’m equally inspired when the train pulls into the Puyallup station and I step from the train and look up to see Mount Rainier sitting placidly in place, keeping watch over the valley.

This is my Puyallup, where I can go for a run on a trail that seems to stretch infinitely through forested glens, next to wild, rushing rivers, flowering trees and heady wildflowers, all with the majesty of Mount Rainier peering in and out of the clouds as I chase it down in a long game of peekaboo.

This is where in the summers I can spend hours or minutes, depending on my mood, exploring the farmers market and bring home everything from eggs and asparagus to hanging baskets and freshly made pasta.

This is where I can experience the joys and thrills of the same fair I went to when I was in high school.

This is where I can sit on my front porch and listen quietly to the night as it settles in or the rain as it drizzles lazily down my driveway.

Two years of commuting has done little to dull the sensation and the overwhelming peace I feel as those fields come into view. It feels good to come home.

Karin Leeburg Larsen of Puyallup works in Seattle and enjoys writing everything from novels to a cooking blog. She is one of six reader columnists whose work appears on this page. Email her at Klarsen265@gmail.com.