I DIDN’T PICK the best time to visit Seattle’s Carkeek Park. It’s one of those cold, drizzly and dark afternoons that I still can’t get used to after living here for nearly 15 years. Luckily, a good parking spot affords me a view worth sketching while I keep warm and dry inside the car.

Despite the weather, a steady flow of people keeps crossing the industrial-looking bridge that provides access to the expansive shoreline on the other side of the railroad tracks. Although it’s a weekday, many have children in tow, as school schedules are still upended due to the pandemic. “Daddy, I hear a train coming; hurry up,” shouts a kid who doesn’t want to miss the thrilling, close-up view of freight whizzing past.

Other people are headed over with dogs, even though there are signs informing visitors that, “Dogs are not allowed at beaches in Seattle Parks.” Hmm.

The overpass itself looks very utilitarian: a humble steel structure with a concrete walkway, metal steps and chain-link fencing that wraps all around the guardrails and encloses the middle section for safety. But the connection to the shoreline that the structure provides is so important, especially in these pandemic times, when we most need to be able to breathe in the steady, reassuring presence of Puget Sound.