I moved with my family to the Sammamish Plateau just one year ago, from an area of Minnesota known originally for its expansive prairies. I am accustomed to looking straight ahead and seeing the horizon — where an open, blue sky meets vast, level earth. Here in Sammamish, to see any patch of sky, I must look straight up, away from the mountains and through the tops of the tall trees. And when I gaze upward, with my neck crooked as far back as it will go, it is quite likely that I will see a bald eagle, a great blue heron, or — in the evening — a swooping bat.
I love this place.
Before we moved here, I had heard rumors about the Seattle area and its dreary winter months. I worried about becoming depressed from the lack of sunlight and constant precipitation. And there are people who, I’m sure, find that the lingering layer of clouds negatively affects their moods. But I realize now that I’m not one of those people. I thoroughly enjoy the mild temperatures and the deep green moss growing on rooftops. I am inspired by the hills and mountains all around us, the evening light glimmering off Lake Sammamish, the dense wooded areas of native trees and plants, and wetlands with ducks and dragonflies.
Amid all this beauty, some in the community grumble about too many newcomers and too much change. I try to reassure myself that the changes are not my fault because my house is not part of a recent development. My house is not in one of the current areas that are a punch in the gut to see, where the gold and rocky soil is exposed and the trees and earth have been ripped open and flat. It is a shock, here in Sammamish, to see the ground meet the sky with no line of trees to buffer it. Driving by these places can ruin one’s day – until we come to forget that the construction site ever was a place of beauty. But it’s not fair for me to feel exempt from the responsibility of this constant march forward. Undeniably, I am one of the newcomers, regardless of where my house is located.
At the same time, I’m not sure it makes sense to blame me, as a new resident, for the rapid changes that have taken place here over the past several decades. We must remember that there were people here long, long, before that. Before any white settlers arrived, there were native people here who understood much better than any of us how to live in harmony with what is now called the Sammamish Plateau.
My urgent hope is that Sammamish residents will pull together to plan the best direction for our community. It is not too late. I believe we need a very careful balance between housing developments and natural areas, between retail opportunities and preservation of the current look, feel, and personality of Sammamish. There is nowhere else in the world like it.
At times I miss the wide, open views of the prairie and the crunch of sub-zero ice and snow beneath my boots mid-winter. But over the past year, the Sammamish Plateau has changed me; I hope we will be cautious about the ways that we change it.
Lisa Lynch is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living in Sammamish. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications such as Seattle Woman, Northwest Baby and Child, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.