Wednesday, January 18, 2006

beautiful day--part three

We stood at a crossroads. If we walked straight, we could window shop along Seattle's Fifth Avenue. If we turned right, we could walk down to the waterfront.

Who wants to look through windows when you can walk yourself closer to the water?

We went right. On the nine block descent water-ward, we passed Fisher Plaza, which houses our local ABC news station. We passed a construction site, and railroad tracks, and the Old Spaghetti Factory. With every step, Puget Sound and Pier 70 came closer.

I wish I could describe the smells that tag along on such a walk. I wish I could post a link to those salty portals, those swirls of restaurant essence, and that peculiar freshness that occurs only when air has been scrubbed by a swift trip across Puget Sound. It's not possible ... so come visit me, and we'll go on a sniff walk together.

When we hit the walkway in front of Pier 70, we turned left and walked in search of fish. Yes, we'd only just dined on Dick's deluxe burgers, fries and shakes, but all the cheering, screaming and clapping we'd done at the Arena seemed to have consumed all that fuel. And when you're hungry, and walking along Seattle's waterfront, the only logical food choice is seafood.

Along the four-block route, we passed a cruise ship business, and had a brief, "We really should book a day trip to Victoria" discussion. I believe we had a similar, "We really should bring the kids down here for dinner" talk when we had passed the Old Spaghetti Factory, too. It's just the sort of companionable prattle you expect on that kind of stroll.

Ivar's seemed to have disappeared, but we found an Anthony's in its place. Though I didn't know what I wanted before we stepped inside, and despite the fact that I'm always the last to order because I debate my top five choices right up until the second the server turns to me, for some reason, I knew exactly what I wanted as soon as my eyes landed on that line of the overhead menu: Bay shrimp Caesar salad. Dave ordered fish & chips.

We took a seat near the window. While Dave watched scenes from Canadian football on the wall-mounted TV, I alternated between watching joggers pass the front windows, and the surprisingly swift motions of a ferry boat out the back window.

When the ferry passed out of sight, I turned my attention to the boats docked just below the restaurant decking. Several sported Christmas lights, which began to shiver in the growing wind. From the door of one two-decker, an old man emerged. He shuffled to the back of the boat and fiddled with something mechanical-looking. I watched his movements and wondered, as I stared, if this man had waited a long lifetime to land on this boat; wondered if he'd saved and dreamed until he made his ambition a reality.

In the midst of my pondering, the server brought our food. Oh, again for the technology to give you a taste! Just a small one, mind you. The shrimp was that-minute-fresh. The lettuce was crisp and green; the croutons garlicky and perfect. And I can't remember when I've had Caesar dressing that good. Little slivers of parmesan hid among the greenery, and two lemon wedges tucked to the side made my mouth water with anticipation. I squeezed one all over my salad and used one for my water. It was bliss, I tell you ... pure bliss. I could eat a salad like that every day for the rest of my life.

We lingered a long time, just enjoying the scenery and each other. We talked about things you don't get to in the normal flow of a day. Only when we noticed a couple huddling close on the walkway outside and saw the reason for their hunched over bodies--big gusts and tiny pellets of rain--did we stand reluctantly and put our coats back on.

The sky had been a beautiful gray when we'd made our walk down, but now the color had deepened to an ominous hue. To me, it was just as beautiful. We pulled hoods on and started back, only this time, we opted for a fresh route. We crossed the street and climbed two levels of stairs until we came to a landing between two high-rise buildings. Before continuing east, we paused for a moment and took in the view from a tucked-away sitting area off to one side. From that vantage point, we could see the burgeoning storm off-coast, and the flickering lights from a thousand boats, and the lights of the Seattle skyline. And as we turned to take our leave, a gust of wind brought a swirl of smoked salmon scent wafting upwards. I stopped in my tracks and pulled in the biggest lungful I could manage, memorizing the scent, the skyline, and the angle of the frenzied stoplights, pulled nearly horizontal by the strength of the wind. I can visit that moment again, any time I want to.

A few blocks east, we passed a Thai restaurant. As we neared, someone opened the door and released the smell of ginger chicken. We went a bit further and passed the along a hoppin' Mexican restaurant. Inside, a live band belted out traditional music. Just outside the door, little fingers of fajita scent beckoned.

As we continued walking, I warmed up to law-breaking. Though I'm a strict, follow-the-rules kind of girl, as in "We don't sample grapes at the grocery store," I quickly saw the wisdom of jaywalking. By the time we'd traveled six blocks in the rain, I was a seasoned criminal. It made me laugh, therefore, when we passed the Space Needle and I watched a teenage boy trying to get his girlfriend to cross against the light, and heard her protest, "You have to wait! We can't cross yet!" I pictured her caving in within minutes, and actually taking the lead before long.

It rained just enough that you could say you got to walk in the rain. It's very good for your hair, you know. I didn't mind it on my face, or bouncing off my windbreaker. It only added to the mood of the day.

Before I knew it, we'd reached the grounds of the Seattle Center again. We'd been a world away ... but we still had an hour to ourselves.


11 Comment:

At 1/18/2006 12:24 PM, Blogger Sojourner had this to say ...

Stop! STOP! Oh my gosh am I soooo hungry now! And to think I just ate Andy Capp's Cheese Fries on my way home from work! Aargh! :)

Great writing, Shannon. I thought for a couple of minutes I was there . . . except I'm hungry. ~Tim

At 1/18/2006 1:34 PM, Blogger Sharon had this to say ...

Awesome writing woman.You made me feel as if Steve&I were there with you and Dave!Makes me want to grab Steve,hop in the van and go over to Lincoln City for some Fish&Chips at Mo's!You were so descriptive I could almost feel the rain and wind on my face and hair!I LOVE THAT!If I was'nt allergic to shellfish I might even try that Caesar Salad you had.:-)Loved this post Shanny.

At 1/18/2006 1:36 PM, Anonymous Lauren had this to say ...

I think I gained ten pounds reading this, but it was worth it.

At 1/19/2006 8:27 AM, Blogger Derek had this to say ...

Long time no smell the Seattle waterfront. Your post brought back a myriad of memories.

Smells: The salty air, fresh fried fish, creosote covered pylons.

Sights: Clouds passing overhead, water lapping against bulwark and hull, gulls & pigeons vying for a tossed fry.

Sounds: Ferry horns and chuggings, traffic, the bustle of people moving, purchasing and conversation, waves breaking against barriers.

Great post!

At 1/19/2006 8:55 AM, Blogger Nancy had this to say ...

Sounds like a wonderful time! You put me right there with you. Let me know when you go to the Spagetti Factory for dinner :)

Take a look at my blog, there are a couple of pictures you MUST see!

At 1/19/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Darlene had this to say ...

That post makes me want to travel. I need to see something new, but for now I'll have to settle with just heading downtown to the Old Spaghetti Factory, and pretending that I'm in a land far away with the wind and the rain in my hair.

At 1/19/2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Bill and Glory had this to say ...

Just another reason why I love living in the land by the sea and my home in the rain.

This was a wonderfully deliberate and detailed journey through Bill's and my favorite city on Earth. At this moment in our lives, we are dearly cherishing the special things. Thank you.


At 1/19/2006 6:46 PM, Blogger Jeff McDonald had this to say ...

what a nice blog.

At 1/19/2006 7:02 PM, Blogger Cora had this to say ...

Hey Shannon! Amazing how you made Seattle so beautiful. I'm glad Chris and I weren't there to spoil your beautiful day with your family! I'm always thankful to you for reminding me of the good things God has given us in this world!

At 1/20/2006 7:41 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Cheese fries, Tim? Now that sounds good ... even at 7:32 in the morning.

Sharon, it's breaking my heart that you're allergic to shellfish. I'm not sure I could give it up. I'd just have to scratch between bites. :)

Sorry for those ten pounds, Lauren. :) I've noticed I write about food an awful lot. Hmmm.

Derek, that was some great writing. I think you should post a memory about Seattle (and not just a comment :)

Yes, Nance, we should plan a trip down. Remember when dinner at the OSP was just the biggest deal ever? Cute pics of Izzy, btw.

At 1/20/2006 7:42 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Darlene, I'm hoping you make it over this way someday. You'd love Seattle. Hope you're doing well!

Aren't we blessed to live here, Glory? I've lived elsewhere for short spurts, but nothing else has ever compared.

Hi Jeff! Thanks for stopping by. I'll be over to check out your blog when I get a minute.

Cora! You guys wouldn't have ruined our day. Not at all. But we're all looking forward to you making Zac's game on the 27th. :)


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