It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Tuesday Top Ten list! I’ll try to get back into the habit now and then!

We moved to the Seattle area this summer and in many ways, it has been like moving back home. Growing up in a small town in Alaska, as a teenager I dreamed of moving out of state, and when talking to most of my friends, our dreams involved someday living in Seattle. Kind of silly, but it was about as far as we dreamed of going. Of course, as I grew older, I went to college in Oregon, lived and studied in England, studied and ministered in Massachusetts for over ten years, then lived in Oklahoma for two and a half years before making my way to the Seattle area.

But I love it here, and for the first time in a long time, I definitely feel like I have come home. So here is my Top Ten Things I love about living in the Seattle area:
1. Mild climate. People here think the upper 70’s/lower 80’s is hot and they will tell you it is hot. After living in Oklahoma where we had over 45 consecutive days of 100+ degrees, it is downright balmy. And having lived in Alaska, it won’t be too cold. Yes, it will be rainy, but the Willamette Valley also gets plenty of rain, and believe it or not, so does the Matanuska –Susitna Valley in Alaska. So Seattle seems to fit me just well.

2. Culture centered around nature. Bike and walking trails, farmer’s markets and local dairy farms, lots of outdoor events and activities. Electric car plug-ins in the parking lots and a strong recycling emphasis. In talking with people in the community, it seems that this is less of a political thing and more of a local culture—there is a sense of wanting to conserve and preserve rather than overuse. There is an acknowledgement that there are many people living in this area and that resources need to be shared.

3. Family and friends. Both my husband and I have aunts, uncles, and cousins in the area, as well as friends from seminary and other colleagues in ministry. In addition, some of those same friends from high school have made their way to the Seattle area as well as friends from college. I haven’t been able to connect with everyone yet, but I definitely feel like my family already has good support and help.

4. Trees. I love the diversity of the trees around us. While we are in primarily conifer country, we do have a good variety of trees around us, which are now changing color (a little early due to the unusual dryness this year), but overall, this is the Evergreen state, and it is still very green all around us. There are times driving down some of the streets, just outside of the city, where it feels like we are in a different world, the tall pines creating a shaggy green canopy above us.

5. Fruit. The sweet blueberries at the farmer’s market and the juicy blackberries in our own yard have filled us for weeks. I love the crisp apple varieties coming to the farmer’s markets now and the raspberries we have found on some of the trails in our own neighborhood near the coast. My husband has been given figs and plums from church members by the boxful (and we can’t eat them fast enough!)

6. The ocean. Well, it’s Puget Sound. But it’s the coast. It’s salt water. Carved by glaciers long ago, as Knik Arm and Cook Inlet near where I grew up were also created. And the sharp angles of the cliffs dipping down under the cool water, the dark rock and the deep green of the trees and seaweed create a beautiful tapestry that is just over a mile from where I live.

7. The mountains. To the east, the Cascades, and on a very clear day, Mount Rainier. To the west, the Olympics. I missed the mountains in Oklahoma so much. I even missed the mountains living in Massachusetts, although we had some great hills around us, and driving a few hours north, the White Mountains of New Hampshire were “close enough.” But I have missed the tall mountains and my volcanoes.

8. AJ’s school. It is unbelievable the difference in what he is receiving. We were receiving about an hour a week of speech therapy. Now, AJ receives speech therapy, behavioral therapy, occupational therapy and a lot of one-on-one time in his special needs classroom. We have noticed a huge transformation at home as well. AJ just does well with routine and he missed school this summer. I love that his school is also just across the street, so we walk him to and from school every day.

9. Church life. I have missed being a pastor. I love not only being in the pulpit again, but being part of a church community and an association of churches. I love that JC is living his dream and planting a new church, and that I am not only a pastor but leading church retreats, writing, and doing what I love. Change #9 to life in general. It is good here.

10. The airport. This is a weird one. Bear with me. But I love living near Sea-Tac. I love that I can walk two blocks over and look directly east and watch the planes take off and land. There is something about being in historic Boeing country and seeing the fruit of that technology and innovation right here. It’s awesome. And I can see the Alaska Airlines logo from the ground, and watch the planes going north, knowing they are heading to my home state. It helps add to the feeling that I’m really just down the road from home. I’m almost there.

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