Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rabid Transit Rant

Seattle has an hourglass figure.  It is squeezed in the middle by two major bodies of water making east-west traffic a major problem and at rush hour easily comes to a complete stop like a blocked artery.

Our “City Fathers”, in all their wisdom, have been working on the Mercer Street major arterial project for years. You would think these engineers would figure out that squishing down four lanes into two and then to one lane might cause a huge back up for people trying to get to the freeway to drive home.  At least I wasn't on Mercer but on Denny, a parallel street.

I was invited to dinner on Capital Hill normally  a 12-minute bus ride from my house, but last evening turned into an nightmare of jammed busses, stagnate traffic, no air conditioning and cranky passengers.

My #8 bus was stop-and-go for 45 minutes and had traveled only seven blocks. Of course it never occurred to King County Metro to make announcements informing us why the traffic is backed up. We are prisoners trapped in a metal cage without any information.  But upon inquiry the #8 bus driver said that the traffic had been like this for a week. Realizing I wasn’t going to get to my destination on this bus, the driver told me I could catch a #10 downtown. I got off and walked a mile to catch it.

Once downtown I caught a very crowded #10 and a sweet young gang member offered me his seat.  I am always surprised by the courtesy of some young people. No air conditioning was on but I was right under an overhead hatch that had been popped to let in fresh air.

It only took an hour and a half to reach my destination and fortunately I was not the last guest to arrive.  An ice cold Margarita was a welcomed beverage for a weary traveler.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tree Hugger

The tree was so stately and I couldn’t resist. It was such a fine day in a riparian forest in Santa Rita Mountains and Madera Canyon, Arizona.  It was beastly hot as we trudged our way up the path from the state park to the great bird watching area at Santa Rita Lodge.  We were sweating and grateful for some shade along the way. We stopped briefly at a small bridge and I couldn’t help but to walk over and hug this tree.  Somehow I found it comforting and I hope the tree liked it too.

Trees have a natural attraction for me.  On Vancouver Island while walking through a rare patch of old growth Douglas fir I had to stop to wrap my arms around its trunk.  Of course my arms weren’t long enough to encircle the trunk but a long-armed hug was good enough.  It was sort of a “thank you” for providing such a lovely setting and a hug of encouragement to keep it healthy and fit for years to come.

My encounter with the Baobab tree was in Madagascar.  The odd-looking trees look like they were planted upside down with their roots sticking out of the top.  It is known as “The Tree of Life” in parts of the world where it grows, as it provides materials for constructing buildings, water storage for thirsty people in its branches, and seeds and fruit are a source of rich energy foods.

Some Baobab trees are thought to be several thousand years old.  Mother Nature is tricky with this tree, as they have no growth rings. Can you imagine no rings to count! And the larger trees can have trunks up to 35 feet in diameter, which if my math calculation is right 35x 3.14 (π ) = 109.9 feet in circumference. That is a lot to try to hug.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Foot Traffic

It occurred to me this morning, as I was driving to my early morning swim on a holiday day, how much I love being on the almost vacant Seattle streets. On a workday when I drive to go swimming cars are lined up for blocks and blocks all trying to go to work at the same time.  This morning's lovely spaciousness makes me think that I would love to live in some little town with virtually no traffic. 

One of the main reasons why love Venice is that there are no autos. Everyone walks and how wonderful is that?  The calli are narrow and a bit uneven and one does have to watch where one is walking.  There are lots of little bridges over canals and many of them have steps making it almost impossible for a person in a wheel chair to navigate the streets.  Of course goods and materials are carried on flat narrow barges which float by.  That is the only quickly moving traffic.

I loved my early morning walks from the little apartment we rented over to the Campo S. Barbara for a cappuccino and soft roll. 
Coffee is served in little cups which makes me slow down and not gulp it.  It was great looking at people out walking their dogs and carrying produce from the Rialto market.  I passed shop windows where chefs were laying out out all kinds of pizza, that flat kind with few ingredients unlike the Americanized version of thick crusts piled high with huge varieties of cheeses and veggies.  After a few days I begin to become slow – as in slow food. Take my time, savor the moment, and gear down.