December Sunset at the Market

I was walking past the Market yesterday on my way to meet with Raquel and talk party planning when I stopped for a moment. The sun was low but the day was yet young and so the streets were busy. It was icy cold so everyone I saw was bundled up in their thick scarves and warm jackets, moving quickly but easily in clusters to and fro. Above their heads the sky was bright orange and Alkai stood in sharp releif. The water taxi busily plowed its way across the sound, sparing commuters from the infernal West Seattle Bridge. The water shimmered, reflecting the clear winter sun and I stopped for a long moment to appreciate it.

I did this in Paris, too, lying down at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, waiting for its majesty to fade and my sense of awe to subside. It took a full twenty minutes of looking up before it began to feel normal. I was only about a hundred yards from one foot, lying down looking up the length. That’s a good angle for photos of tall women, too, exaggerating the length of their thighs and catching that tantalizing under-boob.

At first I watched the elevator rising and falling, taking folks past the innumerable stairs to the tippy top. Someday: Je marche les escaliers de Tour de Eiffel. But not that day. When the movement got old I contemplated the perspective: its feet curve outward as they approach the ground, exaggerating its height by playing tricks with your eyes. My eye followed the long, elegant curve over and over, drawn irresistibly to where it disappeared into the sky. I’d seen images before and there were far better ones on the post cards than anything I captured, but sometimes you don’t really recognize things for what they are until you’re right up close.

Paris doesn’t have a lot of tall buildings but its uneven topography, at least from my approach, meant it snuck up on me a bit. It didn’t really begin to impress me until I was just on the other side of the river. Even then, it doesn’t quite awe. Not yet. Not until I stand right in front of it, nearly between its toes, do I feel tiny. Minuscule. Admiring the achievements of greater folk than I in a harder time than today.

Standing in the Market yesterday, watching the sun set over a bright crowd, I felt that sense again. The sense of walking a road paved by many others before me, who worked harder than I have, creating something lasting and beautiful.

I have a countdown timer set to the solstice so I know exactly how long the days continue to shrink. In my mind I repeat ‘only three month before spring’ as a mantra, shielding me from the cold along with my black wool and double layer of socks. I hate the cold, but standing there, taking a moment out of my day to appreciate and enjoy the natural and curated beauty of this city, I didn’t mind it so much. I snapped a photo on my pocket computer/camera/notebook and walked on to a warm meal prepared by creative experts to talk seriously about throwing a party. I love this city. I hope I don’t get priced out and have to move.