Galatea's Gaze:As a teen in Port Townsend, I took part in many the practical joke at Haller Fountain. We would laugh as we poured bubble bath into the water, watching the bubbles foam and froth. I would chuckle while helping a friend place a bra on the nude figure standing in the fountain. We even put food coloring in the water and watched in glee as green water spit from the fountain. I wonder now as I stand in front of her looking at the age she is showing if she recognizes me. Would she smile if she could? Or maybe wink as if to tell me "It is OK Geoff, the lipstick made me feel beautiful."
I am sure she has seen many things in her 110-year sentry watch... A man in a bowler hat drawing a crowd to her side to observe "trained" trout; Lovers sitting at the edge of her pool talking of dreams of the future; A future that is now the past for many of them. Did those dreams come true? She won't tell me.
She has watched children grow into adults and have children of their own. I will have to remember to tell my daughter I used to splash my hands in the water also.
Standing behind Galatea, I also look down the street and imagine. The buildings are the same, but the roads are different. No more steamships are drifting past. Does she miss the slow pace of the horse and rider walking by, or do cars excite her like they do us? She can see to the water now. Union Wharf was a bustling location when she was born. Not anymore.
Men that stood at her side holding the hand of a girlfriend or wife while talking about war. They were wars that would take some of those men away and erase the dreams of a future and leave heartbreak behind. Does she ever wonder what happened to them? She probably knows. When you stand in one place long enough, with your eyes open and mouth shut, I am sure you learn many things about life.
As I sit back down on my pedal taxi, a mom and two small children walk up. Mom sits down on the edge of the fountain and smiles as her children reach deep down, leaning way in trying to grab a penny in the pool. A pool that has been many things to all that sit there. I know it has been many things to me. A place of reflection or escape. Today a place to rest my legs. The little boy fished a penny out of the water, and now his sister is sad she did not get it. Reaching into my pocket, I find a couple of pennies and give them to the mom to dole out to her kids as she sees fit. Her daughter gets one and right now the fountain is a place of smiles.
Galatea has looked down that same street for many years and has seen many things. And when I am old and my days are few, I hope she remembers today. A day when a grown man stood at her side wanting to hold her hand for just a moment, and thank her for keeping watch over all of us.
I get back onto my pedal taxi and coast down Taylor and smile at myself. There is something nice knowing that I am the subject, if even for a moment, of Galatea's Gaze.