We spent five short days in the Pacific Northwest with my sister-in-law and her lovely family, and even though five as a number is short — it felt short — it was enriching within a tight span of time.
Enrichment came our way through activities. We were chatting endlessly, baking and cooking, when we were not tripping over to the city’s iconic marketplace to gather fragrant spices and delicious cheese, sipping on hot apple cider, tasting moreish butter, and buying braids of garlic and chillies that did the singularly difficult job of elevating our hearts to our mouths with the amount they cost (oh, but they are beauties). Amongst all of this was the scenic presence of the upturned conical tip of Mount Rainier and the Olympic ranges that showed up like a band of photogenic siblings. The sun was shining, and the days were spectacularly cold, but boy, they added sass to the time spent outside.
To mitigate the chill, we slurped on Taiwanese food that awed the mind with the kind of synergy that can result from mere broth and garlic. Xiao Long Bao, soup dumplings for the rest of us, and Sichuan noodles stole the highlight from all the other kinds of cuisines we had, simply because we had never had them before. Novelty is a cracking thing. You always remember that first trip you ever took, that first time you saw a new place and came across things alien to your culture, met a person who turned out to be a beloved figure in your life,…you never forget those, do you? Just so, the Taiwanese meal had left its impression upon us indelibly.
Now, Seattle for us inevitably means Snohomish, a place that my father-in-law chanced upon during a golfing trip and introduced my sister-in-law to. Ever since, she has been a fixture there. It’s her pick-me-up and a no-brainer, according to her. It ends up on our must-visit list, every trip. Snohomish has an assortment of shops that deal in antiques, time-worn and quirky objects that make your heart flutter with want. It is safe to say that we have never returned empty-handed from there.
The nephew and niece have grown up a fair bit. If the little missy is all for mathematics, reading and baking — she made us delicious mini brownie pizzas, the nephew is a level-headed teenager now, with none of the angst of one yet. It is how we came back enlightened with new kinds of knowledge. For example, there is this concept of sneakerheads, we had no idea about. You can call it a subculture, if you please. Sneakerheads are sneaker collectors who like to accumulate limited edition shoes and even vintage ones. They then swap or sell them for exorbitant prices. There are other little details culled from the mouth of these babes that made my mind tumble and stumble, but they escape me now.
We wrapped it all up with a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner, decorated the Christmas tree, and nibbled into a sticky and lovely Christmas cake, the best I have ever had. It was baked by the sister-in-law’s neighbour and I cannot wait to try it myself to replicate its devastating goodness.
Now that I am back to reality, it is unsettling, but it is acceptable because Christmas is around the corner. The city has gone the festive route. We got our first batch of snow too yesterday, big chunky flakes that drove through the day, changing directions, and in all of it, through the slush that resulted on the pavements of New York City, I was out, to meet a blogger. She turned out to be as humorous as her blog and wonderful company because the hours sped by as we prattled.
That’s the beginning of December for me and I cannot wait to see what else it brings.
I am hoping for more Christmas cake and snow.