Highlighters in the Sky

IMG_7745 - Version 2IMG_7752OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHighlighters in the Sky by Charlene Kwiatkowski

driving down old country roads
pushing deeper into farm land
away from the speed of Seattle
its market gossip and grey-brown buildings
road signs every few miles
mark the way to our treasure

who needs signs when you first see
that line of colour against the horizon
highlighters in the sky
better than any road map
just follow that yellow brick—

field of the brightest pinks, mauves, corals,
peaches, and oranges
colours like fruit
so ripe the sweetness
seeps from root to bulb
I feel spoiled to stand in this spot

surrounded by dancers coming down aisles
ball gowns and tailored suit jackets
heads swaying to the rhythm of the wind
tall necks erect, bodies leaning in
one man’s cologne mingling with a lady’s perfume
whispering some great secret
about the mystery of the universe

I bend at the knees
weak with delight, straining to catch
even a scent of what they’re saying
and maybe a word, a look, a glimmer
about the dance, and what
beauty is like

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A Seattle Surprise

This past week, I celebrated a birthday—a wonderful birthday with celebrations that spanned over several days with various friends and family, topped off with a surprise day trip to Seattle on Saturday!

Space Needle coming into view from the car window

Space Needle coming into view from the car window

I was thrilled. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but even though I grew up around the Vancouver area, I’ve never been to Seattle before. Never! So in my late 20s, I finally experienced the big city just south of the border, which apparently also gets a lot of rain.

Rain City

Public art installation of an umbrella in a city nicknamed “Rain City”

My boyfriend and I spent the majority of the day wandering around Pike Place Market that is home to hundreds of merchants, from farmers and fishmongers to antique dealers and craftspeople. It reminded me of Vancouver’s Granville Island, but on a much larger scale.

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a popular tourist destination

Tulip time. There were whole rows of tulip merchants

Tulip time. There were whole rows of tulip booths

fish of all types

a fish lover’s delight

These boys loved touching the fish and then running away, squealing with fright

These boys loved touching the fish and then running away, squealing with fright

The stalls are set up in long, narrow corridors with a “Down Under” section below street level. Some stalls are inside, some are outside, and some seem a little half and half. The market is over a century old (dating back to 1907) is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States.

Down Under shops

Down Under shops

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the iconic sign

a talented busker adding to the beauty with a song and a set of wrinkled, bandaged hands

a talented busker adding to the beauty with a song and a set of bandaged hands

We stopped for lunch at a seafood place called Lowell’s Restaurant & Bar where I ate these delicious fish tacos stuffed with halibut.

fish tacos at Lowell's

fish tacos at Lowell’s

The view was lovely, overlooking the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and the Great Wheel making slow revolutions on the waterfront pier.

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Seattle’s ferris wheel

We stumbled upon some cute little places tucked below street level:

IMG_7675as well as some colourful walls:

IMG_7677Speaking of colourful walls, this one below almost had me barfing as I walked by. Of course I still took a picture, but it was all I could do not to gag. The Market Theater Gum Wall was named one of the top 5 germiest attractions, and for good reason! It’s inches thick in some places. *shudder*

IMG_7717The trip wouldn’t be complete without a photo of the original Starbucks, even though I’m not even a coffee drinker. It definitely looks old and the line-up was too long to even think about joining, but here it is in all its historic glory:

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where it all started in 1971

And to end my photographic overview of the trip, here are some shots of the city skyline. In this one, you can see CenturyLink Field way in the background where the Seattle Seahawks play.

IMG_7693We saw a vendor selling photographs of the city seen through Seattle’s puddles, and decided to try our hand at taking our own shots, which didn’t turn out too badly:IMG_7735
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IMG_7737I’m glad the rain held off for my first visit to a city that I would love to explore more of one day. I keep brainstorming “s” adjectives to play off of Sleepless in Seattle to describe my experience there, and the one that comes to mind, as corny as it sounds, is “Smiling in Seattle.” But I think it works.

Not only am I smiling, but I'm smiling and sitting on a squid!

Not only am I smiling, but I’m smiling and sitting on a squid!

 

Teardrop Windows Crying in the Sky

How many times do musicians write an entire song devoted to a building? I can think of the occasional reference (e.g. FUN.’s “We Are Young” – my friends are in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State), but not one sustained throughout a whole song.

Then when listening to 102.7 the Peak, their “1 thing about 1 song” feature came on which I’m always eager to hear since I love discovering the stories behind songs. So I learned about “Teardrop Windows” by Benjamin Gibbard that personifies the Smith Tower in Seattle.

Smith Tower: the hero in this story

Completed in 1914, it reached 38 stories and 149 metres – the oldest and tallest skyscraper in the city and on the West Coast until the Space Needle overtook it in 1962. It’s a rather sad song that goes in circles. The Smith Tower starts off lonely because there are no other friends to share the view with when it’s first built. Then the Space Needle comes and steals the view. Teardrop windows of the Smith Tower are left vacant, Seattle rain falling from their shutters. The building goes from lonely to lonely.

Space Needle: the antihero

Gibbard gives the Smith Tower such character, as if it’s a real person – not just named after a real person, Lyman Cornelius Smith. He gives the building architexture. His song demonstrates how similar people and buildings really are – the same relationship the Argentinian movie Sidewalls emphasized.

This story makes me want to drive down to Seattle and give the neoclassical building some love. Who doesn’t love the fallen hero? I also want to ride its elevators that are still operated by people (yes, actual people!), or at least were as of 2008 according to Wikipedia.

Elevator operators in the Smith Tower, Seattle – one of the last buildings on the West Coast to use them.

I even love the slogan on the Tower’s website. Instead of “brand new” which is such overused marketing speak, they call it Grand Old. Grand New. Simply Grand. There’s so much nostalgia captured in that phrase. Grand has that connotation: magnificent, eminent, distinguished, but also old. Like a grandfather. Like a person with many years, like a building with many stories. Forgotten stories to pass down to a younger generation with eyes open wide like windows. To fill.

Teardrop windows cryin’ in the sky
He is all alone and wonderin’ why
Ivory white but feelin’ kind of blue

Cause there’s no one there to share the view

There’s too many vacancies
He’s been feelin’ oh so empty
And as the sun sets over the sound
He just goes to sleep

Built and boast as the tallest on the coast
He was once the city’s only toast
On old postcards, was positioned as a star
He was looked up to with fond regard

But in 1962, the needle made its big debut
And everybody forgot what it outgrew

He wonders where the workers are
Who once filled every floor
The elevators operate
But don’t much anymore
Anymore
Anymore

Teardrop windows cryin’ in the sky
How the years have quickly past her by
Gleaming white ‘gainst the deepest baby blue
He is lonely just like me and you

Cause there’s too many vacancies
He’s been feelin’ oh so empty
And as the sun sets over the sound
He just goes to sleep

There’s too many vacancies
He’s been feelin’ oh so empty
And when the maids they turn out the lights
He just goes to sleep

-“Teardrop Windows” by Benjamin Gibbard