I'll take Lake Union any day

Foghorn whistles blowing. Seagulls crying out in three-part harmonies.

Working men shouting back and forth.

The sounds of early morning float across my consciousness as I lazily begin to realize it's a new day. But it's the rev of the seaplane engines that cause me to jump out of bed and grab the day, like a 5-year-old yearning to cruise the sky with Amelia Earhart.

It's 6 a.m. Sunshine is streaming in my east-facing window, and my world is already rich with the sights and sounds of lakeside living.

I moved to Seattle 20 years ago because I fell in love with the water. My hometown, Boston, lies on the harbor, yet one doesn't have a sense of water like we do here, surrounding us everywhere as it does.

Maybe it's the Pisces in me, maybe good karma, but I am intensely drawn to the water, and despite a modest income I've managed to live on it for much of the last two decades. Lake Union was my first, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I fell in love with it immediately.

I plopped down in this new city, overlooking Northlake, in a funky rental house of five young, urban professionals - or some bohemian version thereof.

Ours was a huge, white house with skylights, a spacious back deck, multi-tiered rose gardens and the ultimate lakeside amenity: a front porch.

Our landlord was an eccentric Icelandic man usually disguised as a bohemian himself.

As the newcomer with no seniority, I was left with the smallest room in the house. On the southeast corner overlooking the lake, I got lots of morning sun and plenty of visuals. Very sweet. I couldn't complain.

It was on the front porch, though, that I staked my territory, and from this vantage point I watched the lake come alive with all of its visual richness.

With stretches of unemployed days, I took advantage of my serendipitous location and spent hours just watching the lake do its thing.

Watercraft of all sizes, shapes and varieties cruising by - from pleasure boats, tour boats and yachts to tug boats, outboards and kayaks.

Seaplanes coming and going, ferrying people in and out of the lake.

Old-time, salty men who have been on this water forever, going about their business of boats.

Even the marinas, lined up and down the lake, held a vibrancy.

Lake Union is a real lake - it was immediately clear to me. Real things happen on this lake.

It's interesting. It has a purpose: connecting salt water to fresh water, sound to lake, open sea to inner city. It's a workingman's lake.

Bruce Springsteen would love it here - I know he would. I'm told it's one of the last working lakes in the country.

I made my first few bucks in a new city as catering help onboard the Skansonian, a permanently docked ferryboat used for private functions.

At Ivar's restaurant, I could pull up boatside or streetside and enjoy my first Northwest salmon.

At the Boat Street Café, I'd catch an early morning cup of coffee.

And with my wealthy friends (if I'd had any), I could drop by the local yacht club just across the street.

There's even a rumor in woo-woo circles that there is a "major energy vortex" in the center of the lake. Sure, why not?

Then there are, of course, those lucky few who live on the oh-so-quaint houseboats.

But more interesting to me are my two sets of friends, husband-and-wife teams, who live onboard. Longtime, happy marriages in the confined space of their boats.

They've both got one bathroom more than I've got in my Ravenna digs and come off that boat looking pretty damn good, with designer clothes and great hair. No one on Green Lake looks half as genuine and sophisticated.

It's been 20 years since my love affair with this lake began. I've since lived on many other prime water spots in and around Seattle, yet my bias for this lake holds.

Lake Washington is too massive for any engaging identity, beyond the image of the waterfront mansions that surround it.

Green Lake is too perfect, with its 3-mile circumference and beautiful people, with their Rollerblades, designer outfits and more makeup than I wear to the opera and, like the opera, frequently go there just to be "seen."

I'll take Lake Union any day with its engaging, old-time character, spunk and grit. I'm sure The Boss would, too.

Ravenna resident Teresa Verde recently published "Neighbors" in "The Sun" magazine. She also has published in "New Spirit Journal," "Northwest Primetime" and Women in Christ."

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