Saturday, September 19, 2009

Exploring the Emerald City

Returning to the city of my childhood brings with it a sense of wonder. Seattle has changed while I was away, providing me the opportunity to see it again from a new perspective. The Pacific Northwest has always been known to harbor a string of pearls, but it’s Seattle that has grown into its role as crowning jewel of the region.

I return from Southern California after a five year departure, eager to uncover all that once made me feel so connected to this special place. I quickly calculate it’s more than just the changing skyline, crystal clear lakes, extensive hiking trails, diverse neighborhoods, incredible restaurants and eco-friendly mind-set. Nature and a sense of community play key roles in this city’s beauty and culture. Neseled on the shores of Puget Sound and Elliott Bay, Seattle is blessed to have breath-taking views of a chain of emerald islands set against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountain range.

An arieal view captures Seattle’s vast web of bridges, and waterways that seem to spread out across the city like legs of an octopus. Each bridge serves as a gateway into a series of culturally diverse neighborhoods full of treasures to explore. Blue waterways are the veins to the region, breathing life into each neighborhood it touches. The beauty of Lake Union in the north section of the city branches out into the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Portage Bay, the Montlake Cut and east into the vast stretches of Lake Washington. To the west, Elliott Bay flows south around Harbor Island, the Port of Seattle and connects into Puget Sounds incredible vistas beyond Alki Point. As if these views aren’t enough to hold you captive, the blues are offset by miles of natural green trees. Many say the eco-movement began here. How could anyone doubt a community surrounded in such beauty would do anything less than start a national movement to preserve what the majority of American cities only aspire to become. For those that live in the N.W. taking care of the environment comes with living your life here.
When searching to find this city’s soul, it is important that one understand the deeply engrained conscienciousness here. It’s about community first, full of people willing to reach out and connect to their neighbors. But it’s also in large measure, all about the weather. Seattlites are very in tune with the rapidly changing atmospheric conditions of their region. The lush green landscape, christened it “the Emerald City” and green equals vast amounts of annual rainfall along with months of pewter skies.

As fall approaches, the local Eddie Bauer store becomes a busy place. Gor-tex can be seen flying off the shelves after just two brief days of rainfall. Wardrobes change quickly here and people seem to embrace any excuse to wear sweaters on chilly evenings. As the leaves begin to change from green to red and a fog bank rolls across Lake Washington in the early morning hours, I remember now why I keep coming back to this magical place.

For all the negative press Seattle gets over its rain, just ask anyone from Seattle in summer, “What is it you love about living here?” The universal response will be, “Just look around and you tell me.”

1 comment:

whidbeywoman said...

I live North of Seattle on Whidbey Island. It is so beautiful here. We happen to be in a rain shadow of the Olympic Mts So, it rains a little less here. As you know, I have a blog about my husband's cancer battle. Click on my name for a link to Wild about Whidbey, my other blog. Thank you for the nice comments about your old stomping grounds. Glad you had a nice trip!