Seattle, a city infamous for its incessant rainfall and constant cloud cover, recently surprised its inhabitants with a few blissfully sunny days. Jackets were shed and a few adventurous legs were clad in shorts and exposed to the elements — in the middle of January, it was a sight unheralded.
The streets, while usually busy, now exploded with people. The sheer number of Seattle residents could finally be appreciated as everyone abandoned their homes for an outdoor excursion.
Couples walked hand-in-hand without gloves, skin finally in lovely contact with each other. Kids ran up and down the road, free at last, parents unafraid of their little ones slipping on a slick patch of ice now that the sun had melted all. The elderly ambled slowly, joints moving slowly but smoothly with the aid of the heat, finally able to bask in the beauty of the neighborhood. Athletes ran seemingly endless laps around the town, clad with a smile on their face and sweat on their brow, grateful to not be confined to the treadmill once more.
I was lucky enough that the sunny days fell on a weekend — there was no class to keep me confined indoors while the weather was so welcoming. Brandishing my new Nikon like a warm-weather talisman, I went park-hopping, driving all over the city to experience places I had been to before in a completely new way.
My first stop was Magnuson Park — a beautiful expanse of greenery that overlooks Lake Washington, complete with running trails, soccer fields, and picnic tables. I had frequented the park many times to run, but walking through it with no destination or goal besides enjoyment yielded quite a different experience.
Using my camera to capture the light filtering in through scraggly branches of far too many trees, I traversed the park in an aura of idyllic bliss. I still donned pants and an overcoat, but my jeans were riddled with holes and my jacket was just a thin layer of cotton. The sun piercing my vision, while not entirely comfortable, acted as a deity that I practiced undying devotion for.
When I got back in my car, my Vans were splattered with mud, evidence of a successful excursion.
My next stop was Golden Gardens. As the name suggests, it is a park best visited on a day with clear skies. It faces west, with a view spanning the Puget Sound, so there’s scarcely a better vantage point to watch the sunset from. The puffy white sentinels are religious about their service in the sky, however, so the fantastical sight is witnessed infrequently. I would like to say that I was fortunate enough to be present during one of these rare evenings, that the gardens were bathed in gold this weekend.
Sadly, the clouds were at their usual post on Sunday night, trapping the sun behind an impenetrable opaque wall. A few rogue rays fought their way out of the prison, doing more to tease the park-goers of the possible beauty than to satiate the widespread desire of seeing the sunset. I snapped a few photos on my camera anyway, focusing on the singular streaks of light in my viewfinder in the desperate hope that the scene in front of me would be transformed by my Nikon.
I knew it was an impossibility but somehow was still fraught with disappointment when the pictures were true to reality. Bonfires sprung up around me as the light was slowly extinguished from the unseen sunset, and the smell of smoke in my nostrils calmed me inexplicably.
I felt warm from my core to my extremities and drove home listening to old Kanye, utterly at peace. When I looked at my photos later, I forgot all about the missing sunset. The snapshots of nature contained inalienable raw beauty, regardless of the light.
Seattle and its inhabitants slept well that night, dreaming of the next sunny day.