‘Just living is not enough…… one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower’ – Hans Christian Anderson
One of the best things about Seattle is that it is a walkers’ city so pull on those comfy shoes and hit those cobblestone streets, brick paved alley-ways, paths and hills and enjoy. We struck lovely weather whilst in Seattle, blue skies and sunshine which is a perfect combo for walking. I was given a little tip too for venturing out and about which was ‘take a brolly’ as the weather in Seattle can be somewhat inclement. Apparently, when it rains it rains……and then it will rain some more………
This city has a lot to offer but much of Seattle’s unique charm can be found in the underbelly of its quirky, often gentrified, waterfront and vibrant urban neighbourhoods with most so close to the city you can just stroll to them. Here you will happen upon charming houses, parks and green spaces, sculptures, lovingly tended gardens and galleries and you will constantly catch glimpses of beautiful Puget Sound.
Visit places like Belltown where it is all about the waterfront and for a little elegance try Capitol Hill and Ballard but if like me, you seek a colourful and passionate neighbourhood with a social conscience for activism then Fremont is the place to be (raise that fist and insert a rally cry at your leisure)…….YEAH!!
I will always believe that the world can be changed by action, tolerance and humanity. If you know something is not right then you have a moral obligation to stand up and do something about it! And don’t just talk about it either. Hollow words accomplish nothing. Actually DO something because change can only be achieved through your actions, not your opinions or comments. And don’t turn to malevolence, hyperbole and anger either in order to fight your fight. Leave that to other guys because that’s all they know.
Seattle and its neighbourhoods have an impressive food scene and every taste and budget is catered for. You will find everything from street food, food trucks, casual cheap eats to high-end expensive restaurants. Seafood is a big winner given it is so fresh and accessible but there is so much more on offer from the simple sandwich, vegan to duck fat dumplings to dry aged steaks and again, fabulous coffee abounds.
One of the big draw cards for Seattle is craft beer. I think if you go to Seattle and don’t try a craft brew it would be like, I don’t know……. going to Seattle and not casting your gaze upon the Space Needle! So line up those tasting paddles at any one of a number of very impressive micro-breweries, nano-breweries and craft beer houses and sit back and appreciate a darn good brewskie.
Now although I do enjoy a brew-pub, I tend to favour the nano-breweries. These are the really small, independent operations which turn out impressive and high quality yet limited quantities of beer batches. These places are all about great industrial spaces, people who love their product, milk crate seating and blackboard menus and when that batch of beer runs out, then it is pretty much gone for good.
These places have a ‘hip, kick back and chill vibe’ and we started to seek them out after one of our first encounters with one set up in a shipping container in South Carolina. It was here we discovered ‘Bowens Island Oyster Stout’ and the joy of chocolate covered bacon. And yes, bacon and dark chocolate is gold my friends 🙂 This oyster stout, made by Holy City Brewing, is my absolute favorite beer of all time. I love it and I cannot buy it in Australia, nor anything remotely close to it and trust me, I have been working my way through some impressive stouts to find one.
I am absolutely smitten with this defining image of the Seattle skyline. The Space Needle…….
Although this was built in 1962 for the World Fair I still think it is a super modern ‘Jetsons’ inspired symbol which I also happen to find super cool. I love the colour scheme too – Galaxy Gold (which is actually tangerine), Orbital Olive and Re-entry Red.
I also found the architecture in Seattle stunningly beautiful. I am a lover of all things art deco so some of the sculptured buildings, especially the Museum of Pop Culture, with its perfectly synchronised union between modern Avant-garde, deco and steel greatly appealed to me. I literally spent hours just marveling at the forms and shapes and designs.
In all that I loved about Seattle, one of my favorite memories was of a roof top community garden. One of the volunteers at the garden mentioned it has been referred to as the ‘secret garden’ as although the location is tourist central, right on top of Pike Place Market, the garden often gets little in the way of visitors.
This wonderful urban oasis, manned by a dedicated team of volunteers, provides fresh veggies and fruit to ‘The Food Bank’ and the ‘Seniors Centre’. Residents from the Seniors Centre also come to garden and to socialise which I think is really lovely. With its raised garden beds of vegetables and flowers, fruit trees, container planting, random seating and its impressive views of Elliot Bay and the Seattle waterfront it is the perfect place to gain a little respite from the maddening crowds of the markets.
I appreciate anything that can unite a community and this enchanting space, where moments of grace and kindness collide, will cure just about any affliction. On good days, on difficult days and on all the days in between this garden would be a lovely place to spend a few moments each day. Imagine more city community gardens and less car parks and concrete. I certainly can.
Some of my favourite moments in Seattle were those spent just quietly watching the sun wink off Elliot Bay and considering the beauty of the garden while deep in thought on that roof top space. Life’s transition was taking place. A dislocation between what had been and of what lay ahead in arduous and uncertain times all contemplated in the presence of small windows of hope. The garden it seems, was symbolic in that it shows when you put love, energy and time into something it will grow, reveal itself and flourish.
Once settled in Australia, I made my own small oasis of solitude. I have planted containers of flowers, herbs and veggies and it has become a little space to sit, write and to play a little scrabble every now and then. Zoe loves this garden too and the sunshine cast upon it however my tip would be not to play scrabble with cheeky little cats as they tend to make up their own words. I do allow it though, given she is so sweet……
Gardening is comparable to life in that you have no real control over it. Currently here in New South Wales we are experiencing catastrophic bush fire conditions and merciless heat waves with temperatures at times reaching the high 40’s which is around 118 Fahrenheit. Somehow though, my little garden is surviving the heat. I have learnt some lessons gardening this way too such as my coriander will bolt straight to seed with little in the way of leaves to harvest and my garlic will sit sullenly in its pot with little growth however chilli plants absolutely thrive.
Sometimes perspective and hope are difficult to find, especially in the darkest of hours but when I think back on these terrible times I have for the most, a grateful heart. As achingly painful as it has all been I have learnt so much but most importantly, I have learnt perseverance and to know that I have courage to never ever give up. I have also learnt that you need to stay optimistic, focused and that you must always have hope.
Perhaps every now and then we all just need to find our small space in this big world and spend a little time in a garden, seek out some sunshine and a little flower or two to allow us to realise how truly fortunate we all really are. And next stop, ‘The Last Frontier’, Alaska…. xx
Nothing says summer like glorious frangipani…….