Strawberry Reflections in Seattle
The rain had stopped so we decided have breakfast at the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. “Go to Lowell’s, you’ll love their lemon-blueberry pancakes,” the hotel clerk said. So lemon-blueberry pancakes it was, on the third floor, overlooking Elliott Bay. My husband Marty and I talked about little things, but mostly we watched the activity along the waterfront: leaves tornado-ing against buildings, cars inching in traffic, gulls hovering over litter…
We finished our coffee, left a tip and ventured down the wooden steps to explore the market: Quiet women with hidden stories gathered dried flowers into beautiful arrangements, men passed salmon back and forth like footballs at the seafood stand while onlookers snapped with their iPhones. A bearded man wearing a white butcher’s apron held out a chunk of apple at the end of a paring knife. “It’s a Pink Lady, crunchy and sweet,” he said.
As we sampled the fruit, Marty listened to the man’s shpeal about apples; my attention drifted absentmindedly across the display of fruits and vegetables, resting on a ski slope of artichokes. I’d eaten artichokes since I was a child growing up in Lakewood, Washington and spending summers on Puget Sound. Back then, a meal of Dungeness crab, artichokes, and sourdough bread–all finger food–was a cheap and easy way to feed five kids. Mom and Dad were foodies; Dad liked to follow recipes…
Dad, these ‘chokes are huge. Remember how we put peppercorns in the boiling water and I’d sneak a little lemon in the mayo? What do you think? We can have halibut and artichokes when you visit us in Kodiak next summer…
People swirled around me, but I didn’t really see them. Sigh. Marty squeezed my hand and we zig-zagged our way through the late-morning shoppers and onto Pike Street. A Christmas tree vender was strapping a small tree on the back of a bicycle and a family stood around Rachel, the bronze pig, to have their picture taken.
“Marty, see the wire sculptures on top of the roof? It’s a strawberry, carrot and pear. Let’s come back at dusk so I can photograph this spot.” I looked forward to the diversion.
Dad, why didn’t you get a second opinion? Doctors said the polyp wasn’t cancerous. At 84, did you really need the surgery? Something went wrong, though. What? In the hospital, I held your hand, stroked your hair. Did you know I was there?
For the rest of our stay in Seattle, I explored, walked and shopped by day and carried my tripod and camera after dusk. The cityscapes provided me with a subject and light palette that was much different than the Sitka spruce trees, eagles, surf, brown bears, fishing boats and sunrises I was accustomed to shooting around Kodiak Island.
Eager to explore more nightscapes (you can’t see tears in the dark), we bought tickets for the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit at the base of the Space Needle. At $19, tickets were pricey, but reviews looked good. Photos are encouraged, but with a hitch: “No tripods allowed,” the lady said as she scanned our tickets. I bumped up my ISO.
Inside the glass covered “greenhouse” I laid on the floor, and gazed up at the Space Needle and framed it with red and yellow flowers. Funny, the underside of its “cap” still looked like gills of a mushroom, just as I remember during the 1962 Seattle Word’s Fair.
The next night, we dined at Mama’s Mexican Kitchen for dinner. It was Tuesday, so we were greeted with guitar music, singing and comfort food. After sharing a buenuelo (a crispy tortilla topped with honey) for dessert, we walked partway back to the hotel, savoring the cool air. I looked up at the lights, the maple leaves…
Dad, I’m right here, squeezing your hand. You’re my hero, Dad. I’m proud to have you as my father in this lifetime… there’s a spark of the Divine inside you, you know… I uh, have to fly back to Alaska tomorrow. I love you, Dad. I’ll see you again, okay?
Dear Reader: My father, Arthur Albertson Allen, passed away on November 13, 2012.