Good Morning, Wallingford, I’m home!
Back in March, I handed over the reins of Wallyhood to Eric Fisk so that my family and I could take a little Grand Tour of Europe.
In case you’re curious, we had a great time. We started off in Seville, Spain, made our way north to Basque country, then over to Lisbon and southern Portugal, where we spent a bit over a month (with a brief side trip to Fez, Morocco). Finally, we hopped a plane to Holland, and spent a fabulous two weeks in Amsterdam, before returning home to Seattle this past week, 98 days after departure.
Of course I blogged much our adventures (see my Hive Mind Travel site for fun bits and photos), and I’m putting together a short series of “lessons learned” on topics like “travel with kids” and “digital nomad” for others contemplating a similar undertaking, so I’d be happy if you’d take a look.
Being in all those different cities, then returning to Wallingford, did get me to thinking about some of the things I’ll miss, and some of the things that make me appreciate being home.
I think the biggest thing we ended up missing about Wallingford (aside, of course, from our friends, and the fact that we could speak to anyone we wanted without resorting to hand gestures) was the amazing access to fresh, local, organic produce. I mean, not only do we have organic produce available at the PCC, QFC, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, we have the Wallingford Farmers Market, CityGrown, CSA’s and, in season, people just leaving signs on their trees saying “pick me”!
Let me tell you: Wallingford, you don’t know how good you got it. It was nice to be able to shop in small, neighborhood butcher shops, bakeries and produce markets, but by their nature, the selection was slim, it was rarely local and organic was almost impossible to find in Spain, Portugal and Morocco and quality fresh meat was especially difficult (although the cured meats were everything you’ve heard about and more.)
But there’s much I’ll miss. Amsterdam, in particular, with its lovely canals and bike culture, wowed us. The absolute flatness lends itself to biking, but they’ve taken it to another plane: everybody bikes, and because there are so many bikes, they’re treated as first class citizens.
I often feel there’s an us-vs-them struggle between bikes and cars here in Seattle, with cars angry at “their” roads being encroached by slow-moving, fragile cyclists and cyclists visibly enraged by the perceived dangerous incompetence of the drivers. I’ve been honked and yelled at by cars when on my bike, and I’ve had cyclists shout and give me the finger when I’m in my car. Maybe that means I’m just doing it wrong all around, but the attitude seemed much, much mellower all around there.
Sitting in a cafe one day in the de Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam, I saw a motorcycle, going a bit too fast, skid into a cyclist at a crossing, toppling her over. Elsewhere, things might have come to blows (and certainly would of come to lawyers), but here, the woman on the bike got up and kind-heartedly berated the contrite motorcycle rider. I couldn’t hear the words, but it seemed she was scolding a beloved child who had run too fast and dropped his cake: “You klutz,” she seemed to be laughing, “you must be more careful or you’ll hurt someone. Now promise me you’ll watch out next time, OK?”
I wish we could take that friendliness, that assumption that, while we all make mistakes, we’re all basically good people, and imbue it into all the arguments we have in Seattle. Sure, we disagree about whether dogs should be on or off leash, whether Molly Moon should build a parklet in front of her shop, whether the bus system should be supported by taxes, but we all mean well, even if the means different things to each of us.
Anyway, I’m back! Huge thanks to Eric for keeping Wallyhood alive and kicking while I traveled, and to all the writers who contributing during my absence. It was fun to peek in and see what was happening back home (and also to take a break and just be somewhere else for a while).
Eric has agreed to stay on in all his wonderful wonkiness and continue to contribute to Wallyhood, so we’ll be sharing the editorial going forward. So send your Wallingford news, reports and tips to [email protected], we’ll both be listening.