Sunday, July 12, 2009

Play Days

One of the best things about Seattle in the summer is that there are so many free events happening. It's as though, since we spend more than half the year under cloud cover, apprehensive of grey skies that could suddenly morph into rain, we have no choice but to take advantage of even the possibility of sun by spending as much time outdoors as possible.

This weekend, Seattle outdid itself with the free events - the Chinatown Street Fair, Green Lake Milk Carton Derby, the Outdoor Theater Festival at Volunteer Park, concerts at the Locks, and West Seattle Summerfest, just to name a few. Waking up to gloriously sunny skies, and shirking our household responsibilities, Michael and I packed a picnic lunch into the car yesterday morning, picked up David, Joan, and Hazel from their current house-sit, and headed to Green Lake with Lucy nervously digging in to Michael's lap in the front seat.

Starting with the milk carton derby, we watched as boats ranging in design from viking ships to clownfish to a human powered "hamster wheel" took to the water with only milk cartons (and the occasional orange juice carton, I noted) as flotation. Leslie met up with us in time for lunch, before we headed to the other side of the lake for a free (donations accepted, of course) performance of Noel Coward's "Hay Fever".

"I don't think we'll be able to get seats," Michael was pessimistic when we found ourselves getting to the playhouse later than planned. "There are too many people here."

"Yes, but on a day like today, people are here for the park - not an indoor play," I responded. Sure enough, the playhouse was nearly empty, and we enjoyed front row seats. My theory proved correct.

But what if you could enjoy a play and the outdoors together? That, doubtlessly, was one of the inspirations behind the popular "Shakespeare in the Park" performances that pop up every year. Even after one play, Michael, Leslie, and our friends Stephanie and Sandy decided they were still up for a performance of The Comedy of Errors at Volunteer Park. Heading to Capitol Hill also gave us the chance to try Bluebird, the newest of the popular homemade ice cream shops that have been multiplying this summer. Michael and I split a cone with a deliciously creamy scoop each of northwest strawberry and peanut butter.

One things about plays, however, is that they don't afford much opportunity to visit with your friends, unless you arrive early. And not all of our friends (ahem) are known for punctuality. Fortunately, a trip to B&O after the show, where they open the windows on the north end of the cafe to the sidewalk in good weather, gave us a chance to chat.

It turns out the timing for the day's events was perfect, as storm clouds rolled in overnight, leaving me rushing to take the laundry down from the porch in the morning rain. Still, a little spot of rain should never stop a true northwesterner from enjoying their summer. After an indoor brunch this morning at Curio Confections (which I highly recommend), my friend, Lewissa, and I braved possible showers and headed out to the West Seattle Summerfest to explore more bakeries, drink a little booze, do a little shopping, and listen to Kim Virant perform. And the rain? After a few noncommittal drops, it disappeared, leaving us with familiar grey skies and pleasantly temperate temperatures.

Tomorrow it is back to work - and supposedly sunnier skies. How I wish summer weekends in Seattle could last all week long. But perhaps it's better this way - after all, I need some time to plan and prepare for the next one!

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