And so it begins.
I touched down in Seattle yesterday afternoon, to a hilly landscape positively swimming in green. I mean, everywhere you looked, something leafy and coniferous was sprouting. Even the vacant lots that I glimpsed from the metrolink had been overtaken by thick tufts of grass. I might as well savor it now. Judging from the route I’ll be taking – this is as lush as things are likely to get.
For my three days here, I’m bedding down in the Eastlake neighborhood, just above the shores of Washington Lake. Hosting me is my friend, Mary; a fellow veteran of the Appalachian Mountain Club who now lives and works out here as an AmeriCorps VISTA teammember, helping low-income residents volunteer in exchange for public benefits like healthcare and utilities assistance. Expect a digital meet-and-greet with her before I board my first bus on Thursday.
Experience has taught me that one of the best ways to beat jet lag is to fight through the early AM exhaustion and attempt something physically rigorous the next day. You know, the sort of activity that leaves your lungs kabooming and clouds of steam wafting from your body. So upon the recommendation of Mary’s boyfriend, the two of us took advantage of the beautiful weather, drove just beyond the city limits and trudged our way up a 4,845 foot heap of rock and roots called Mailbox Peak. A sign by the trailhead indicated that 95% of that elevation would be gained in a distance of 2.5 miles. Indeed, the ascent was so ridiculously steep that I found myself gripping tree trunks as handholds in many places. It was a great way to kick off the trip.
Coming down the mountain, we saw many athletic, attractive young people working their way towards the peak. This rather impressed me, especially since it was a Monday afternoon. (Mary had taken the day off from work.) It wouldn’t have surprised me if the fittest ones were putting their lunch breaks to use. This would be a far cry from Boston and New York, where wandering a couple of blocks down the street to a salad bar for your noontime nourishment was seen as a rigorous pilgrimmage. Mary suspected the same, noting that Seattle is that rarest of US cities in which achieving a positive balance between professional and personal laboring is attainable.
Tomorrow, I will be discussing this issue – and many others – with a local Millennial named Marian, who will soon be heading south to get grubby as a fulltime coffee plantation worker. Until then, enjoy these snapshots of Seattle in summer twilight. I sure enjoyed taking them.