Streptococcus, the slut and flying fish in Seattle…….

‘Hey baby I hear the blues a callin’……..

There is a smell about Seattle.  A really good smell.  A lovely salty floral smell which seems to continually drift from that remarkable stretch of Puget Sound.

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I was fascinated with this oceanic inlet where on wonderfully clear days, which happily ours were, you could see in the distance the majestic hulking beauty of the Olympic Mountain ranges.  Puget Sound is also the second largest estuary in the USA.  It is not only famous for its salmon runs of Humpback, Coho, Chinook, Sockeye and Dolly Varden but there are also Orcas, harbor seals, porpoise, sturgeons, cods, rays and an abundance of sea birds.  These beautiful waters, dotted with oyster and mussel farms, fishing boats, ferries and sail boats really is a refuge to an amazing marine population.

August through to September is apparently the preferred times to visit Seattle and I would guess, as with most places so far north, the winters would be somewhat challenging but I think anytime would be a perfect time to visit this lovely seaport city.

So how does one spend time in Seattle.  Well I spent mine roaming about, taking photographs, documenting my thoughts, watching the sound and just soaking up the city.  And did you know Bruce Lee’s grave is also in Seattle!  I didn’t until I arrived.

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One place you should include on your ‘to-do-list’ if you ever happen Seattle way and I hope you do, is Pike Place Market.  I really don’t think I would ever tire of this market place.  A blatantly touristy, noisy and crowed yet uniquely charming spot overlooking Elliot Bay.  It is full to bursting with fresh flowers, fresh seafood, artesian breads, full service butchers which means they will also break a bird down for you, fresh eggs including that of tiny quail, $400 per pound rare black truffles, cheeses, seasonal fruit and veg, arts and crafts, restaurants, buskers, baked goods, spices and teas.  Markets always seem to reveal great characters and Pike Place was no different with its mix of eccentric and no-bullshit-taking vendors.

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The sound of these markets is incredible.  The din of chatter, the yelling of the fishmongers, the slap of massive slabs of salmon onto stainless steel filleting tables, the clatter and clamor and commotion has all become part of this markets unique charm along with the famous flying fish.   It’s an old Seattle fishmonger tradition which goes a little like this – the customer selects the fish, the fishmonger then picks up the fish and throws it to another fishmonger for the fish to be weighed, dressed and wrapped.

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There are warning signs for ‘low flying fish’……..

Our most memorable meals of Seattle were at Pike Place.  Bowls of fresh clam chowder were consumed and we devoured fresh oysters by the dozen and drank local beer from big frozen glass mugs at Athenian, the unofficial watering hole for the market workers.  And the oysters were good.  Fresh, briny and smelling of the sea.  And just like a beautiful yet complex Japanese tea ceremony, there is also a bit of an art to consuming these little bivalves which involves a tiny fork, one chew to release the cream, savor then swallow.  Perfect!

Something I very happily discovered at these markets too was that unmistakable yet comforting smell of hot cinnamon donuts.  ‘Hot Cinnamon Sugar Baby Donuts’ to be precise which were pure little parcels of absolute joy and you can buy them by the dozen.   And I did!

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Now for some urban grunge.   And I don’t mean the somber subculture of guitar bands with their angst-filled lyrics and low strong riffs that came out of Seattle in the mid 80’s.  I’m talking about the Market Theatre Gum Wall!   

Not for the squeamish nor faint of heart this Jackson Pollack inspired wall is just south of ‘Rachel’, the markets big brass pig, and under Pike Place on Post Alley.  No doubt this is one the strepiest and germiest tourist attractions around, with some areas of this 15 feet high and 50 feet wide wall being several centimeters thick with chewy, but when in Rome……..

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I don’t think you will ever find this kind of tourist attraction in Singapore……..

Seattleites are also renown for their caffeine addiction with Starbucks having been founded here.  I do however, prefer to fondly remember Seattle for the bands it produced such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana and for the guitar legend Jimi Hendrix rather than Starbucks.  Sorry guys, its not me, its you with the coffee!   I just prefer the little independent hardcore coffee-nerd places and trust me, there are plenty of great ones around Seattle and its neighborhood communities.

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Anyway, the Starbucks at Pike Place isn’t the first of this chain but it is the oldest store.  And how’s this, I noticed on the stores logo’s that the curvaceous and lovely mermaid originally had her boobs on show – I really am all about the detail – however she appears to have undergone a little ‘make-under’ over the years.

The good folk of Seattle also seem to have quite a sense of humor.  Like the naming of their South Lake Union Trolley  – The SLUT.   It is very much an electric tram, part of the streetcar line, which runs from the South Lake Union neighborhood to Downtown Seattle.  This line may not take you anywhere really special but the souvenir t-shirts are quite fun.  Sense of amusement required though 🙂

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As I write this blog post, I am combing back through my notebooks looking at my thoughts jotted down while in Seattle and on this return trip home.  Most of it is grief stricken and uncertain.  I guess I was quite a newcomer to such deceit and no doubt I found it difficult to navigate those achingly treacherous days.  I may have written words down but really, there were no words……….

Perhaps though, and this is largely due to the fact much has revealed itself and in that slow unfurling, I now see this entire situation in a far better light.  I guess there is nothing more liberating than grabbing something by the balls, shaking it up, turning it on its head and seeing just what actually falls out.

What is certain though is from grief eventually comes joy of opportunity.  They say revenge is sweet but I believe a little happiness, a little more kindness and even a little more compassion to be far sweeter.  I know too where I have come from, where I have been and just like ‘The Slut’ I certainly know where I am headed but I still  ‘don’t know what to do with those tossed salads and scrambled eggs.  They’re callin again’……..

Part II of Seattle coming soon……..xx

Footnote:  Lyrics (in bold italics) from the Frasier theme tune, ‘Tossed salad and scrambled eggs’ by Bruce Miller.

 

6 thoughts on “Streptococcus, the slut and flying fish in Seattle…….

  1. You know you have written a great article when this Seattelite wants to go out and rediscover her home town. Thank you 💞

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