I was given a choice of activities for my birthday, but our avid patronage of civic attractions and especially, arboreal retreats, left little in town to serve my yen for "N and D" ("new and different"). And then, I remembered the Wheel.
Open since only June 29, the 175-foot ride has changed the silhouette of the city, visible from the West Seattle Bridge, ferries in The Sound, the Space Needle and anywhere on the waterfront. It's a white metal frame by day, but for special events at night glows with spiral-moving colored lights--on July 4th, red, white and blue, reflected to sparkly effect in Elliott Bay.
|My photo of Seattle Great Wheel from ferry|
The 20-minute ride was glorious, as before our eyes a low-hung, overcast morning cleared to blue skies and expanded views. Inside, we scrambled positions snapping videos, Instagrams and panoramas, a set of exclaimers brandishing iPhones, zoom cameras and point-and-shoots.
oddities hang from the rafters and offer their hand-lettered placards in old-fashioned glass cases. My son, who had just discovered that Narwhals are real (rather than mythical) was stunned to see a double-tusked representative on the wall. My souvenirs were stills of the formaldehyded 8-legged pig, taxidermed Siamese twin calves and Sylvia the mummy.
Of course, all this came immediately after SeaFair, the month-long air-and-water races and displays that culminate each summer with a window-rattling visit by the Navy's six exhibition F/A-18 Blue Angels jets, who cause happy gridlock by closing off the busy I-90 floating bridge during two days of practice and two of aerial daredeviling. I'm among those who thrill at their wing-grazing flight expertise, gaining skeleton-vibrating ecstasy from the sounds of sheer power and energy that their overhead passes and maneuvers create.
|My best SeaFair pic ever! An eagle with the Blue Angels!|
Though so far, Seattle's summer is a weather dud, almost always too chilly to swim or cultivate a tan, to the rest of the nation, sweltering and suffering in unbearable heat and humidity, our drizzly cloud-cover looks pretty alluring. You know the joke: "Seattle has two seasons--August and the rainy season." Did you notice that every outdoor scene in "Sleepless in Seattle" featured drenching downpour?
Those of us who live here treasure our sunny days, and even the phenomenon known as "sun breaks." When one occurs--a momentary glint through temporarily parted clouds--we stop what we're doing and turn our pasty countenances to the window, or leap up and run outside to gain fleeting doses of Vitamin D before pregnant gray nimbuses crowd together again.
Or, we ignore the forecast and embrace the day. Seattleites are runners, climbers, hikers, skiers, boaters and bikers. None of us carries an umbrella, ever, though there are three or four in the car trunk, and a dozen more in the closet. You know a tourist not by his street map, but by his umbrella.
We're an optimistic bunch, scheduling Shakespeare in the Park, outdoor farmers' markets, even car washes, seldom cancelled due to inclement weather. Summer is a season of assumptions that our vivifying lengths of daylight will overcome any obstacles from the sky.
|Photo by me at the Bellevue Botanical Garden|