Over Seattle

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

You would think that I would know every nook and cranny of this city by now.

I have flown to many parts of this planet but I had never had a really good look at Seattle up close and personal until recently. My fellow got a Father’s Day present of a float plane trip for the two of us. When the weather report assured that we would have a really clear day, we booked our flight and were soon driving to Lake Union with float planes harbored along the shores where houseboat living is the norm. As we entered the office a handsome fellow in nautical garb welcomed us, ushering us along the dock flanked by glorious roses in bloom—even a lavender one amongst the red, pink, and white ones. Our nostrils were filled with perfume as we were assisted up onto the single step and into the plane, buckled in and ready to taxi up the lake to turn and take off into the wind. Luckily it wasn’t opening day of the boating season so we had the lake almost to ourselves.

What a different feeling from the smooth liftoff in a big jet. The noise of the motor was deafening as we ascended into the air, hovering low in order to better view the city—the space needle which we could almost reach out and touch and the old landmark of the Smith Tower, once the tallest building this side of the Rockies. Soon we were viewing the islands to the west, dipping and turning around Magnolia bluff and the University of Washington, Green Lake, and the Montlake Bridge with the stadiums dominating the city’s industrial district. It is no wonder that so many people have gravitated to our fair city which we were now looking down at in awe--shoreline dotted with sailboats, and snow peaked mountains beckoning us to explore.

As my friend and I looked down, calling out the places that we recognized, we felt like children on a holiday of fresh exploration. Both of us have traveled widely but nothing quite matches the excitement of cruising at low altitude over this wonderfully exciting city of ours. “Look,” I called out. “There’s Gasworks Park where I once took part in a pageant honoring the elder women of our community.” Yes, I was one of the women in a long white flowing gown and headdress singing lyrics about the wisdom of women as the sun came over the horizon. For a night person it was quite a sacrifice getting out of bed before dawn to act in this ceremony.

Hovering over Magnolia brought back memories of my oldest sister who once owned a home across from the elementary school there. I can still see her in her recliner holding her cat in her arms and studying the racing form. Her passion was going to the horse races and she even convinced me to go once or twice. I sat through several races and if a jockey seemed to be winning I would put a small bet on him to win later on. It sometimes worked.

A quick turn of the plane brought me out of my reverie and for a moment there were butterflies in my stomach as it seemed we were about to land on a huge cruise ship ready to take off for Alaska. Instead we were making our way over the Aurora Bridge and back onto Lake Union for a landing as the pilot turned off the motor and glided up to the dock. “Keep your seatbelts fastened,” he shouted to us as he opened the door, jumped out onto the dock and tethered the plane in readiness for our exit. Yes, we admitted that it was an exhilarating experience. We soon were lingering over lunch as we looked out at the bridge we had just flown over. And we were laughing about the huge troll under that bridge that had recently been cleaned in time for tourist season. Yes, it is still there crushing the Volkswagen with one huge paw.

Yes, only in Seattle, right?

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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