Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fish Ladders

She's back and she's finding her roots in Seattle. I love that I had this to give you since I'm watching Eddie Izzard's routine about the beginning of the world and God telling all the animals how they'll fuck. Poor salmon.


Today, on a whim and a recommendation from S. and C., I went to the Hiram M. Chittenden Lock. It connects Lake Washington to Puget Sound, and, in turn, to the Pacific. Lake Washington, which twines through the heart of the city, is enormous and continues to support a lot of recreational and industrial boats.

Now, you have to understand that the locks are, in and of themselves, a pretty interesting innovation, but watching the big boats (photo one) go through the channels isn't the only reason this area consistently draws small crowds.

It seems that when Seattle decided to construct the lock system, being the polite and considerate city that they are, they felt it was imperitive to include all those who use this channel... including salmon (photo two). That's right. Salmon. So, they built a fish ladder. Ladder is a bit of a misnomer, as it's really more like a fish staircase. The steps are really little concrete troughs, naturally flowing from the higher Lake Washington to the lower water of the Sound.

Anyway, it's ingenious in its simplicity; the water runs down the steps (photo three) and provides a smell trail that inspires salmon to leap up to the next level and provides nice little rest stops along the way.

Everyone seems to think that this is an excellent system. The salmon (photo four) think it's swell. The humans, for whom a little observation area was constructed, like to cheer for the little swimmers. The fat seals and sea lions (though they refused to appear in pictures) think that the buffet is quite convenient, and happily, if sluggishly, porpoise around the channel.

I didn't stay long, but will definitely go back for further investigation of the Botanical Gardens. I couldn't stop thinking about an establishment I had passed a few blocks back (photo five). Ballard, you see, was settled by Norwegian fishermen before becoming a part of Seattle proper and still has a small community of Scandinavians.

I bought some lefse (lef-sah) and thought that I could probably trust someone named Lena to make it. (For those of you who have no idea what this is, it's the Norwegian answer to the tortilla/pita/crepe problem. The best lefse is made with potatoes, so it's soft and a bit sweet. I like it with butter and sugar, but it's also used to wrap fish prepared in an otherwise unspeakable manner.) I had never considered the nutritional content of lefse, but apparently it's a good source of niacin (photo six). Who knew?
Miss Rebecca

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