It might be taken with a grain of salt (and probably less salt at that but I’m not sure how much) since this is lifestylish Seattle versus the average traveling rust belt midway featuring questionable tilt-a-whirl maintenance (thick, buttery grease oozing out of rusty hinges) and iridescent, bulbous flies tickling half-opened, thawed-out brats in cardboard cubbies under the rusty, makeshift stainless steel sink of a 1983 International food truck but nevertheless- both of the boys sampled their first corn dogs last weekend at the Fremont Solstice. Oliver Fern wasn’t crazy about his, it was more about wanting a stick to hold just like big brother’s so I ended up heir to this delicacy minus a quarter of it gnawed unappetizingly by baby beaver-like bites. An intense squall of rain drenched us shortly after stopping for a spell to watch the fire-eater (it struck me as fairly dubious parenting on our part when I looked down at an excited, wide-eyed Oliver Fern) but it eased to a light drizzle for the walk to charming gardens of Wallingford.
And we were so soggy Saturday night when we got home, I woke up startled Sunday morning at the rays of crystal sunshine filtering through blinds and that displayed a pinhole-like motif of light on the wall- a neighbor’s moving, liquid outline ghosted across the room into a shadowy corner. Such as Seattle’s current population boom has increasingly rendered weekend hikes close to home mostly unbearable for my taste and I didn’t want to be too far under the leaves on such a brilliantly sunny day and hence walking by one of our favorite rivers was out, the boys and I made plans to be gone for most of the day on a bike ride to Seward Park in the south end of the city. I had butterflies about going for such a longish ride after getting a fifth cortisone injection in the past several months on Friday afternoon (I’m starting to feel a bit like an overgrown voodoo doll) but after watching people unicycle nude the day before and as our biking would be fairly easy with emphases on plenty of stops featuring cookies and as it was a week of tedious infection control since big brother stayed home from school four days in a row with a nasty case of strep throat that had him vomiting on his own blood (but sipping fruity Otter Pops at Seattle Children’s Hospital) and as such that I found myself badly in need of fresh air intake, I decided really there was no excuse to not go. Clearly, I had contracted a bad case of cabin fever. One would be right to suppose I was concerned about Adam’s stamina, we smartly made plans for him to bail at any time with a simple call to the aid car back at home. He stayed the course for all twenty-plus miles of the day, riding upsy-downsy through pretty blue-green neighborhoods ranging from Madrona, Leschi to Mount Baker. The riding was just soothing enough for me, I spent most of it steering one-handed (one-pinky, even). Oliver Fern was a polite passenger and might’ve fallen asleep if he weren’t such an eagle-eye when it comes to parks and playgrounds. We felt obligated to honor most if not all of his princely requests for stops since he was a passive observer for most of the day. In case you’re wondering, the picnicking and resting in the grass at Seward Park was sublime (we spied an enormous Bald Eagle securing watch over the park from the same tree as usual, on Bailey Peninsula).
After the long, gradual climb through the picturesque bungalows and foursquares of Mt. Baker that rival those of Wallingford for the faded archetype of serene neighborhood class which exists mainly at its peril (plus, the imagination) these days, we needed a rest for the enjoyable descent into the Central District and the inevitable slow-but-not-really-that-hard ascent back to home (one final white-knuckled, bumpy ride down disintegrating cobblestones to our house) and so we stopped at Bradner Gardens which will remind one of the good things about Seattle. This community garden on the side of a steep hill roughly overlooks Adam’s elementary school and farther in the distance, the skyscrapers of downtown. The boys played on the pretend orange tractor while I chatted with one of the neighbors, she was cooling off after some hard work on her plat. She’d noticed our bikes and we talked about what it was like riding with children through different places in the city. Nearby where the boys played on the tractor was this intricate metalwork (note the twisted rebar) featuring dragon and bike. With apologies to the artist’s vision (I was hoping to credit the piece but couldn’t find anything about the creator), aside from the obvious irony, my immediate tired-from-riding-bikes-all-afternoon reaction was: 1. To my consternation, Adam simply will not give up trying to teach me how to play Magic the Gathering (my downfall for shying away from the cutthroat chess matches between he and his mom), and 2. It reminded me that I’m a couple of seasons behind on Game of Thrones. After our beloved neighborhood video store ceased to exist a couple years ago, I nearly exclusively stopped watching anything at home. Vegging out on the boob-tube was primarily a solitary, wintertime late-at-night exercise to begin with, but not being able to walk to the video store and pick something out by hand made the activity lose an essential fullroundedness. One of the clerks from the store, a snooty smartie who looked down her nose at me every time I borrowed something overly-accessible (Game of Thrones, for instance) but was nice enough to offer the odd backhanded compliment on that rare consumption of the extraordinary and/or obscure, volunteers at our library from time to time. Part of me had to stifle a chuckle when we nodded in acknowledgment at each other one night last winter- I miss the silly guilt trips as I waited in line with my movie and the reductive transaction that followed. Some things can’t be digitized or streamed……..