Camellias are blooming in our courtyard. After the wettest year in Seattle’s history the sun is finally shining and temps are near 70F. These things do wonders for my Sunlight Affective Disorder. It’s transition time and though the SAD is starting to remit I still cringe and anticipate a cold wind off the lake when the front door opens. But, as things begin to warm up there are more people on the street, new restaurants opening, gallery shows changing, new films being released, plays in preview, and music venues crowded. Renewal and regeneration are in the air.

Maybe it doesn’t warrant any kind of deep thinking. Maybe I should just enjoy it. On the other hand, renewal and regeneration extend beyond the weather and the changes worth noting. By early April our New Year resolutions have cratered but spring reminds us to renew our commitments to losing weight and getting fit. We get excited about March Madness and the Final Four, hopeful that the Mariners will start to win again, fascinated to see Djokovic, Fed, and Nadal fight it out at Indian Wells, and awestruck as 22 year-old Jordan Spieth makes his move for another Masters green jacket. These things move us to move and we spray a little WD-40 on the bike chains and head out on the Burke-Gilman Trail. If it stays warm we might even enjoy an outdoor table at one of the new Capitol Hill restaurants.

It’s been a long time coming and I get it that my wife can’t stay out of the garden store. I’m resigned to loading 4 bags of potting soil in the Jeep now. She started talking about the early buds on her plants in January and she was upset when the rain and wind came back and blew us into March. But we’re there now. The camellias are exploding. Heavy coats are going to the back of the closet and the ski gear is going to the basement. I’m happy to see the end of winter, but why did we have to wait until now to get some good movies in the theaters? We’ve been indoors waiting for them all winter. Why now? Except for the Nina Simone documentary I haven’t seen anything good since the Oscar rush in December.

Whatever the reason for the paucity of films I’m glad we have some new ones now. Over the weekend M saw a quirky documentary called City of Gold about Jonathan Gold the food critic of the LA Times. Gold is unlike most food critics and the first one in his field to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. It was refreshing to hear about a critic with the confidence to write about food trucks and ethnic strip mall restaurants instead of Michelin stars. Not only is he insightful about food, he is equally so about the cultures (in LA) they derive from. His culinary commentary teaches us all a lesson in democracy and demographics at a time mainstream news is full of frightening stories about terrorism and calls for the surveillance and policing of immigrants. Gold is the ultimate democrat, an overweight, longhaired, polymath riding around LA in his beater pickup truck looking for the exceptional among the ordinary. I could see this film a dozen times and never get tired of it.

Jonathan Gold

I know I’m a bit of a recluse in winter. I don’t run or walk much when the weather turns bad. I don’t ride my bike because my hands are easily frostbitten and I hate to be cold. I only skied four times this season because I’m too lazy to drive for two hours to find out if it’s good. I’m spoiled from living a lifetime in the mountains. I love to be outdoors but winter is a challenge, and though I regret not skiing more I’m glad when winter is finally over. Spring brings a surfeit of things to see and do.

In addition to the new film offerings, live theater is flourishing. Here, in North Seattle, there is a small (very small) 150-seat theater near Green Lake that consistently puts on quality productions. M and I have season tickets. We’ve been going to plays at The Bathhouse for several years and never been disappointed. So far this year Bathhouse has produced and presented three plays, a contemporary topical one called Bad Jews, a condensed, spare revival of Amadeus, and last week the premier of a new play called The Other Place, a brutally honest portrayal of a family disrupted by dementia. All three of these plays were quality works with quality players and an audience willing to experience something new and unexpected

Other Place

Even retail reflects the transition and change of seasons, and the ordinary can be interesting when you’re not fighting the elements. Last week I got a catalog in the mail and though I don’t ordinarily give them more than a glance, this one was eye-catching. Filson is a 100 year-old Seattle company that makes outdoor clothing and accessories. It was founded in 1897 and hasn’t lost sight of its mission. It’s what Eddie Bauer used to be – rugged clothing for outdoor people – and the catalog was stunning. The company finished renovating an old factory space in the industrial SODO section of Seattle last fall, and it’s stunning. Like other Seattle-based companies whose flagship stores (REI, Nordstrom, and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room) have become sightseeing destinations, Filson is exceptional and worth a visit – even if only to see the innovative architecture and interior design. Staffed by a friendly and informed bunch of outdoor enthusiasts it’s a pleasant way to spend a morning and learn a little more about a Seattle company that’s doing well by doing good.


Today is another bluebird day, the third in a row, and though it’s April 1st this is not an April Fools gag. Two squirrels were on our deck this morning with their noses up against the sliding glass door and two ducks were watching them from the grass below. Our resident eagle who hunts from a tree in the park next door, hasn’t shown up today but he’s around – and so is his prey. Enjoy it. This is what renewal and regeneration are all about. Time to get on the bike and see what else is now along the river.

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