Saturday, January 22, 2011


I'm pretty fond of Seattle. It's a beautiful, bustling, environmentally-friendly, green and vibrant little city nestled on the stunning Puget Sound, surrounded by the Olympic mountains on the west and the Cascades on the east. I may be biased, but it's hard to believe it could get much better than here.

Still, that doesn't stop me from the occasional daydreaming of living in other places. Places where life just seems, well, slower, savored, bite by bite, flavor by flavor. I close my eyes and imagine a small town perched on some cliffs in the Greek Isles, overlooking the sea. I know it in my mind, because I remember seeing it on the travel channel one night when Dad and I were browsing for something on tv. We were mesmerized by the picture (I inherited my romanticism from him) as the narrator described how all the people of the town, young and old, gathered every night near the cliffs to sit and watch the sunset.

In my neighborhood in Ballard (northwest Seattle), I'm just about 10 blocks from a stellar view of Shilshole Bay. In fact, there's a little park there - a long strip of green grass with a picnic table and a few benches - which the locals refer to as The Bluff. From The Bluff, you can get lost in the majesty and mystery of the Olympics, which look so close you could almost jump in the water and swim to them, but I think they're a ways further than that. And if you look straight down, it's like a docked parade of sail boats stretching along the waterfront in Shilshole Bay Marina. Just a crink of the neck to the south is the tiny peninsula at the tip of Discovery Park, which has got to be one of the largest and most wonderful out-of-city park experiences you can have in Seattle.

The Bluff is a hidden gem in Ballard. In the summertime, or really anytime it's sunny outside or there's a colorful sunset, this place will be teeming with locals. Families picnicking. Dogs socializing. Kids kicking soccer balls. Avid readers stretched out on blankets. Babies toddling in the grass, figuring out how to walk. Teenagers parked in cars. Bicyclists stopping for a visual feast and a water break. Photographers poised for the prime sunset. Older couples strolling hand in hand.

Come to think of it, I must love The Bluff because it's as close as I've gotten to that little town in the Greek Isles. Here, in this slice of Seattle city life, for just a few minutes or maybe for an hour, life appears to slow down. Peoples' busy lives intersect in a neighborhoodly ambiance. And we all sit down, take a breath and behold a universal wonder: the setting of the sun.

Here I'm challenged to consider, how can I slow down and experience the savoring of life in my own city? Sunset by sunset.

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