Washington State Symbols

   

Garden PathThe state grass of Washington is the native bluebunch wheatgrass. Thanks to golfcourses & suburban lawns, many native grasses are being displaced by naturalizing invasive non-native grasses. Many towns & cities have outlawed meadows either as fire-hazards or places that encourage "vermin" (which is to say, natural fauna of any kind). Golf coarses good, natural meadows bad, & you wonder why you don't even know what bluebunch wheatgrass looks like.

The state flower is a shrub, the coast's beautiful evergreen Rhododendron, which has vanished from many forest understories due to poaching, & can today be seen primarily exhausted & stunted & worn out because of too much sunlight in people's front yards.

The state insect is the Green Darner Dragonfly, which is losing its breeding & feeding ponds because fear of mosquitos inspires the willful destruction of habitat.

The state fish is the steelhead trout, whose streams are being rapidly despoiled, & many a river where steelhead once journeyed by the millions today see not even one.

The state tree is the western hemlock cuz that damned Oregon got first dibs on the Douglas Fir. Too bad we didn't at least make it the mountain hemlock, which is prettier.

The state fossil or prehistoric mammal is the Columbian Wooly Mammoth. But old-timers remember when the state fossil was Senator Magnuson.

There is as yet no state amphibian, but it really should be the Pacific Giant Salamander, an impressive fellow though getting to be so awfully rare that it will never be seen by many people even if they're in the woods a lot. If it were decided the state amphibian should be something people might actually see, then that'd have to be the extremely worthy rough-skinned newt, though the peeping western toad would doubtless have its advocates.

There is also as yet no state reptile, but it should be the sadly endangered Western Pond Turtle. If the state cannot tolerate being reminded by that choice how destructive people are & how little the government has cared, then the second choice would be the livebearing little Alligator Lizard, cute as the devil even when it has bitten onto the end of your finger & won't let go.

Our state quarter will be issued in 2007 by the US Mint. I'm surprised every state is worth the same two-bits. I'd think California & New York would be worth a dollar coin.

The state ship is the President Washington, a dumbass commercial container ship, while the art deco ferry Kalakala is permitted to rust away.

Nickname for native-born residents: WORSHingtonians.

The state's slogany nickname "the Evergreen state" was trumped up for commercial purposes by a pioneer real estate tycoon, so a bit like making "It's the beef" the state slogan of Texas. It should be changed to better suit what it is fast becoming "the grey concrete stripmall state."

Of related interest, the state "gem" is petrified wood cuz Worshinghtonians didn't quite get the meaning of "gem." Honesty begs the state gem now be changed to "cement."

The official state motto is "Never do today what can be put off until tomorrow." No, that's not quite it, but it's close; the motto is "Bye & Bye," to be spoken in Salish, "Alki," which is to be ennunciated while pointing at a hobo.

State fruit is the apple, no particular type, any apple will do, which is just as well as some ass would've chosen the grainy & terrible-tasting (but nice & shiny) Red Delicious if they'd been forced to be specific.

State Tartan has a green background, with bands of blue for water, white for mountain peaks, red for apples & cherries, yellow for grains, & black for the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

State Deity: The goddess Elpis, or Hope. She is shown on territorial seal of 1863, & She was the choice of the seal's designer, Lt. J.K. Duncan of Governor Steven's surveying expedition.

State Seal, seen on State Flag: Portrait of George Washington, against Green, in circle, very ugly, probably not intentionally symbolizing the Almighty Dollar.

State capitol: Olympia, not named after the piss-flavored watery beer, although the capitol does also taste like ditchwater filtered through moldy bread.

State drink: Unofficially of course. For people who like mildly beer-flavored pee, it's a toss-up between Rainier & Olympia as the state beers, but because after fifty years neither of them could buy off enough politicians to make it official, the state drink instead became latte. But only if you consider Seattle to be the whole state.

Washington has no State Mammal, but the Sasquatch has often been suggested. Oregon lists the Sasquatch seriously as officially endangered, so in case any sasquatch hunter actually spots & shoots one, they'll be in deep caca for having done so. In Washington, if you have a hunting liscense, you are permitted to shoot a Sasquatch dead. When it turns out to be a furry Viet Nam vet who has lived in the woods for the last forty years, however, you better bury him pretty deep.

The reason there is no state mammal for Washington is because the fight over whether it should be the Olympic elk or the mountain-beaver got rather more heated in the legislature than the subject would rationally require, & so any decision was stalemated. A few clowns suggested that the state mammal should in that case be the clam. Personally I'd've selected the marmot.

In 2003, Senate Bill 5048 was introduced suggesting the Orca as the state mammal, but was not passed into law. The beaver, elk, clam, or marmot might still be better choices, especially since the state is letting the navy kill off the whales with brain-exploding sonar experiments, & the Puget Sound orca population is rapidly declining so that it is not expected to range into the Sound for a great many years to come. And who needs their state mammal to be nothing more than a symbol of human perfidy & the destruction of all wildlife.

The state bird is the Goldfinch, which appears to be headed for extinction west of the Cascades, so we may someday have to revert to the original state bird selected by school children in 1928, the Meadowlark.

The state folk song is "Roll On Columbia Roll On" -- but some people insist it is actually "Louie Louie," whereas I say it should be the Acres of Clams song, except that folks in Eastern Washington would feel left out (which they are most of the time anyway, though they did score the state grass).
And now that I'm used to the climate
I think if a man ever found
A place to live easy & happy
That Eden is on Puget Sound

No longer the slave of ambition
I laugh at the world & its shams
As I think of my pleasant condition
Surrounded by acres of clams
Being no longer a slave to ambition reflects the above-mentioned state motto, "Don't rush me, it'll get done bye & bye."

But while speaking of acres of clams, the unofficial state mollusc, as every native-born son & daughter damned well knows damned, is the phallic geoduck. And when Iver Haglund still lived, anyone would've told ya the state restaurant was Iver's Acres of Clams.

The state song is different from the state folk song, & hardly anyone knows even one line from it, it's so crappy no one wants to sing it even at state functions. It is titled "Washington My Home," & it goes something like:
"This is my country so you leave tonight
God gave it to me, not to you Indians
I will protect it, shoot you in the head,
then laugh my ass off as you lay there dead (refrain:)
Washington My Home where mountain beavers roam
& how can I stop those heathen Indians from
digging the clams on my private beach,
for you & me a destiny but only if you're white,
& lets round up some Japs while we're at it."
Alas, that's closer to the history of the state than anyone likes to admit. If you ever do suffer through having to hear someone singing the uncorrected lyrics, you'll understand why we also needed "Roll On Columbia," a very nice diddy indeed. But it wasn't Woody Guthrie's lefty politics that was being approved of, it was the praise for the salmon-destroying Indian-lands-devouring dams & the all-powerful Bonneville Power Authority that got the politicians all tickled to sing:
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn
So roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Not that it rolls on even half as fast as it used to.

The state accent is familiarly known chiefly from the Disney cartoon character Goofy the dog. Honest to shit, Goofy's voice was based on an Olympic Penninsula hick accent. The classic comic account of Washington rural life The Egg & I inspired the Ma & Pa Kettle films, in which we never quite get to hear the actual "swallowing" g'yuk g'yuk accent that was once common on the Penninsula, but today one does still occasionally hear it, though only among third or sixth generation coastal rural families. At least one word survives in the common vernacular as derived from the vanishing state accent: "WORSHington." Which if further adapted might keep us from ever again being mistaken for Washington, D.C. G'yuk g'yuk.

Perhaps relating to the lost state accent: Someone suspected this was & still is hillbilly country made the official state dance the squaredance.

   



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