Monday, September 29, 2008
It was exactly this time of year 13 years ago when I first laid eyes on Seattle. Oh, what a looker she was on that day; a day so remarkable, the cloudless sky and razor sharp edges of two mountain ranges made a girl feel woozy taking in all of the beauty. I had been living in Washington, D.C. at the time and came out West to visit an old friend who was on a one-woman mission to make Seattle my home.
Two experiences led up to my decision to go back to D.C., call U-Haul and get packing. First, I carelessly left my wallet in a cab. When I realized what I had done, I called the cab company and asked them to keep an eye out for it. Three hours later the phone rings. A passenger in the cab turned it in to the driver who insists on personally driving back to return it to me; does he need my friend's address? "Not at all," he tells me, "I remember where I dropped you off. I'll be right there." When he arrived, I gushed with gratitude and tried to slip a $20 into his hand to thank him. He handed the money back, smiled and wished me a lovely stay in Seattle.
The other experience that sealed the deal was when I was walking with my friend along a quiet street in Madrona. It was early fall and the sun hit our faces at an autumnal angle, close enough to warm but far enough away to feel the crispness in the air. As we walked, my friend casually picked fruit off of the trees that lined the streets. She handed me an Italian plum with dusty white-purple skin that shined up after a few passes on my jeans. "Is this illegal?" I ask her, scanning the streets for security cameras. She tells me there are oodles of overflowing fruit - too much to eat - while she lazily kicks at the rotting plums in the grass to make her point. On the next block she tugs a perfectly ripe pear off a branch and now I know she's just showing off. I move my line of questioning to personal health, "What if it has pesticides all over it?" "I doubt it," she tells me, "people care more about their food here." And by way of explanation she states simply enough, "It's Seattle."
A vision of the "Soviet Safeway" where we shopped in Adam's Morgan, D.C. comes to mind, so named for the perceived scarcity of quality produce in certain inner city neighborhoods. After years of living in dirty urban areas, it's hard to adjust to eating a piece of fruit right off the street. You'd have to be totally out of your mind to contemplate eating anything off the street in most urban areas, unless it's a hot dog or a pretzel or you are supremely hungry. Let's be real - you're not even given the opportunity in most urban areas. Unless you are in Seattle or a similar Urban-Eden, there would be no chance to earn those blackberry scars on your arms, shallow, pencil lead-thin scratchings from joyous forays into the heart of the bushes come August. You wouldn't have to contemplate whether or not to gather up spring nettles in one of the city's numerous public green spaces to make soup. You wouldn't know that figs, heirloom apples and Rainier cherries could be so abundant, falling at your feet as you walk the streets.
at 3:41 PM