The dark days of summer are here. That’s a pun, yep, but it isn’t a complaint. It may very well be that earlier on I made a promise to give no further utterance to feelings of dismay about the lack of spring weather and now the lack of summer that we are experiencing in Seattle this year. I can’t remember whether I did or not. But especially with news of the heat wave roaring through the country to the east of us, I consider it prudent to be grateful for my climatic lot. And anyway, there seems to be no point in wishing for pleasant weather that doesn’t appear to be coming. The thing to do, I recently told myself, is to get outside and make the best of it.
Which advice I took from myself.
It seems to me that the number of taco trucks and hot dog trailers around town is growing, although I have no data to present as a proper journalist would. My impression, and maybe I heard this from Ben Gant or one of my other contacts on the street, is that the City was making it hard for purveyors of “street food” until a year or so ago and that they recently lightened up and changed some rules so that more vendors could make a go of it.
Lucky for me, because I love that sort of thing, as you might guess.
On a gray day a week or so ago I checked on roaminghunger.com in hopes that Maximus Minimus might be in the neighborhood, and they were! Because their truck is a giant pig and their name is Latin, I love Maximus Minimus. They had me at “oink”. This is a mobile food vendor whose pulled-pork sandwiches are a favorite among the downtown sidewalk lunch crowd. You can order your food maximus — savory and spicy — or minimus — tangy and sweet. I believe I posted a picture of the pig truck once before in an entry about Third Avenue, even though it parks at Second and Pike.
I walked up there and ordered my pulled pork (maximus for me, thanks), and then stood with a couple of businessmen at the two high tables they have. The wind blowing up Second from the south seemed to have ice in it and I had to stand with my back to it with my jacket collar up, and even then I was freezing. But “this is the life” I said inside myself. “sidewalk eats in summertime!” I tried to pretend that it was a warm summer day, but the girl taking orders outside the truck was wearing a wool cap and a thick coat and warm boots. The wind kept trying to pull away my bag of Kettle chips.
Here is a picture of Maximus Minimus that I took last summer.
2. A walk
One evening at dinner Mara expressed chagrin that she hadn’t had a chance to “get her wiggles out” that day on account of the weather was so foul. On a whim, I gathered her up and took her to the (Washington Park) Arboretum, where we embarked on an after-dinner stroll on the path that rambles through groves of Austrian pines and exotic birches and beeches and reedy wetlands on its way under the freeway and out onto Foster Island.
This was not too long after the longest day of the year, but with the cloud cover it seemed really dark and dismal out. We passed only a few joggers and two couples walking dogs. Nevertheless, our adventure turned up a heron, or maybe THE heron, who lives in the park, several duck families, two or three murders of crows and, though we only heard them, a redwing blackbird or two. I had hoped we’d see turtles along the shore — in sunny weather they haul up on logs near the water’s edge and bask — but it was probably warmer in the water than out that evening, and the turtles absented.
The trail through the swampy western bit of Foster Island was waterlogged, I assume because the lake level is high, I further assume because of the wet, cool weather we’ve been having. Big swarms of mosquitoes hung quivering in the air above the trail, right at face level. I instructed Mara to exhale as we passed through them. We couldn’t pass from Foster Island to Marsh Island because the wooden boardwalk was actually underwater. Mara was nearly in tears because of this impasse, because she SO loves crossing from here to there and getting wet and strongly prefers moving forward into The Next Thing over Going Back the Way We Came (unless the latter involves stopping for treats at some place she has eyeballed on the way), and thought an acceptable solution would be for me to wade across carrying her in my arms. I said no.
We had a book of Pacific Northwest plants with us, and we identified what I thought at first was a salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) but turned out to be the closely related thimbleberry (R. parviflorus). In case we were wrong and they were deadly poison, we ate just a little bit each.
We came home with muddy shoes, but at least we didn’t let the weather beat us.