12 Jun 2022

Seattle: Nature Vibes, New Coffee, Largely Photoless

Map by me, made with marceloprates/prettymaps. Data © OpenStreetMap contributors.

Back across the pond for about a week.

Seattle is so green. It’s sooooooo green. I think what we lack in sun we make up for in abundant foliage explosions. We—and this is a reminder to myself—just need to remember this during the year’s many gray months. Don’t let it stop you from getting out and being with plants.

I guess I’m proposing that maybe sun and plants are both cognitive fertilizers. In Seattle I think we get sun envy. Grass is always greener, but more like sun is always brighter. Harder to appreciate what’s always around.

Nature as Vibes

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Hello

Thinking about all this has helped me start to codify my relationship with nature.

People in Seattle are so hardcore about hiking. It’s not just walking around in the woods, it’s let’s get up a 5am and go for a 3-day backpacking trip to Mt. Rainier where we have to have taken four technical courses on alpines and glaciers and ropes and ice axes and done preparatory drills and won tickets to the lottery to go and then if we don’t die and scale the whole thing it will have been a normal weekend. Oh or you don’t like hiking?

I exaggerate, but I’ve always felt I’m not up to snuff with Pacific Northwest outdoorsy types. I’ve assumed, up until recently, that I wasn’t into hiking, maybe wasn’t even that into the outdoors?

But then, inexplicably, we get to some beach town like Nerja and the first thing I want to do is go for a multi-hour trudge up the riverbed, fording and watching critters and photographing the canyon walls. And we appear to be in the 1% of tourists there who want to spend their afternoon that way.

Pictures, at least ones I can take, don't remotely capture what's good about the forest. It's not quite the smell, or the relative quiet, or the walking, or the trees or ferns. I'm not sure whether forest bathing is has already been worn out into a cliche, but it's the best phrase I've heard. The sensation is closest to a subtle soak.

I think there are a couple things going on. One is that, to some degree, I really am into hiking, it’s just the cultural standard is so high that I appear not to be.

The second thing, wrapped up into this, is that Seattle’s hiking isn’t just about nature, but it’s wrapped up with strenuousness, endurance, weight, survival, technical skills, achievement, the remote places, the best view. Amongst folks who enjoy all this, I always get the sense that I’m just incredibly lazy and none of these factors even occur to them. Or it’s even part of the draw.

The third is that the primary draw of nature, for me, is not hikes, it’s vibes. Nature vibes like forest bathing. A big hike is just often a prerequisite for nature vibes.

Aside: Wrapped up with nature vibes is why I’ve always been slightly dissatisfied that you have to hike on man-made trails. For me, the whole point is getting to vibe out with the natural world, so it feels a bit artificial to be walking on human-constructed, pre-designated paths. It’s like being on a ride in Disneyland—go where we tell you to, and look at the decorations from a distance. Or like the difference in playing an open world video game (where you can go anywhere) vs one where you have to stay on the paths the game designers made for you. This is why words like exploration or discovery or adventure have always felt inappropriate, even when backpacking. Nowhere we go is truly novel.

New Coffee Technique

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After seven years of addiction-as-hobby, I rarely encounter a way of brewing coffee I’d never heard of before. But I did.

Stomping around my old grounds, I popped by Ghost Note to scoop my brain out of the digestive lull brought by a Carmello’s greaseadilla.

They use an espresso machine (pictured) where you can dramatically adjust the steam’s pressure.

So they turn the pressure way down, and do a long run through grounds to brew something like drip coffee, but fast and fresh and per-cup. Takes about ninety seconds.

The result is something that tastes, to me, across between an aeropress and filter-brewed drip coffee.

It was good.

The closest thing I’ve had is from Ada’s, where they do a “long shot,” which I think is just an espresso shot pulled for… well, a long time. (To me, those were always okay.)

The Best Times are Photoless

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I realized that, hanging out with friends and family, I never took any photos. Of course not! It was the most “normal” time I’d spent in a while. But also some of the best.

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