We spent the first two weeks of our three month long escape from the Arizona heat, in Seattle. Summer had not quite begun in the northwest. We stayed at my sister Karen’s house, and she referred to June in Seattle as “Juneuary”. It was cloudy and rainy almost every day, but then late in the afternoon, the clouds blew away and the sun spread its warm, drying rays around giving rise to the smell of green plants and moldy wooden houses. Our last few days were hot, in the 70s and 80s with high humidity. The day we left for the Olympic Peninsula, it soared into the 90s, a little too much summer for the locals. As one Seattleite put it, "I wait all year to complain about the heat."
Seattle is a progressive, liberal city. It is most apparent coming from Arizona, a conservative State. At the grocery store, the clerk, seeing that we hadn’t brought any bags of our own, asked us how many bags we wanted to purchase to put our groceries in. We bought two paper bags at 5 cents a piece.
Recycling is not the exception in Seattle, it’s the rule. Every house has three containers for waste pick up, the smallest one for garbage and the two big containers for recycled material and yard/compost material. I read that Seattle leads the nation in recycling. I think it’s commendable that the people of the city choose to recycle so much, but at times it can be frustrating. At the co-op, after eating lunch, I got so confused trying to decipher into which of the many containers I was to put my plate, napkin, cookie bag, plastic fork, paper cup and plastic lid, that one of the employees took pity on me and came over to help me sort it all out. In my frustration I said, “Down in Arizona, we just haul ass up the highway and throw our garbage out the window.” She laughed, I’m glad she knew I was joking.
The Fremont area of Seattle seems like the epicenter of liberalism. One morning Katie and I wandered over to Fremont to witness the Solstice Festival and parade. Immediately upon entering the area, we felt transported back to the 1960s.
As one enters Fremont, you are greeted by a giant statue of Lenin, not John “Lennon”, but Vladimir. I read that this statue is dressed up for a variety of different Fremont occasions throughout the year. As we walked by I noticed that Vladimir’s left hand was painted red. This subtle addition to the statue’s revolutionary pose, helped put it into the right perspective for me. There are at least two other notable icons in Fremont. A huge cold-war rocket fuselage adorns the front of a local store. I have no idea what the significance of this is. And then there is the giant Troll under the highway bridge. “The community pays tribute to the troll every October 31st with a mobile ‘Trollaween’ party, starting under the bridge and wandering to other funky art sites and events in Fremont.”
The Solstice Festival proclaims the arrival of the sunny season and this year the sun cooperated. As the day progressed, the temperature rose into the 80s. We arrived early, about 11am, and people were already lining the streets to watch the parade, which didn’t start until 3pm. The festival celebrates and highlights all things environmentally friendly. It is also an opportunity for people to paint their bodies and ride totally naked on bicycles in front of hundreds of people. Not something I would recommend or be inclined to do, especially at my age.
I stopped and talked to a young woman who had a giant shrimp on her head. She was very nice and wanted me to make sure that when I ordered shrimp in a restaurant, it was the right kind of shrimp. It was very important to her that I do not eat shrimp from certain countries. I can’t remember which ones, but she said these countries do bad things which to me seemed totally unrelated to my shrimp eating. She was very nice and very earnest about the cause. I trusted that she knew what she was talking about and I told her that I would do my best.
We walked past a man standing in front of a truck with green crosses and giant marijuana leaves painted on the side. He tried to give Katie a brochure, which she rejected, but I took and he seemed extremely pleased. These green crosses are all over Seattle on buildings and trucks. It is the symbol for medical marijuana. I’ve always been in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. It should not be lumped in with the harder and more addictive and dangerous drugs. But the movement to push marijuana as a medical remedy seems deceptive to me. I’m sure it helps people with certain ailments, but I suspect that the people behind it are not solely motivated by remedying other people’s health concerns. My friend, Erran, told me that there is a way to heat up marijuana and take out the chemical part that makes you high. The process leaves in all the medicinal elements, which means it would become more like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I wonder, if all of the pot these people are pushing underwent this process, would the movement still have such a robust following.
After wandering around Fremont for several hours, I began to feel a little more balanced. It was just the remedy I needed to counteract the effects of all the Tea Party rallies in Green Valley, AZ. over the past few years.