People who sleep in until half the morning has already disappeared are missing some of the most beautiful parts of the day. On mornings when the sun is just beginning to clear the Cascades, the Olympics are positively glowing in their fresh coating of newly fallen white, and the birds are a regular calliope of sound.
At around 7:30 a.m., it's time to jump into the Dodge and head down to the Village for the first of a few cups of coffee and to watch the morning ritual of the Magnolia Village slowly coming awake in preparation for the day's commerce.
If things have been correctly timed, there will still be an open parking space in front of either the Upper Crust Bakery or Magnolia's Bookstore. And, again depending on the weather, I'll either be inside the bakery or at a table outside. That's the true mark that spring has finally arrived, when I move my post from inside to out on the sidewalk.
The late Wayne Gray, an old friend with whom I used to share many warm cups of joe with, would be disappointed in me for getting such a late start or for letting a little weather drive me inside.
But if you get there early, on some mornings when the air is still enough and before the traffic has stirred the air, you can actually smell the tang of salt air as it has drifted up from Elliot Bay and the Sound.
Because I'm recognized as one of the accepted "car nuts" of Magnolia, I look at every car and truck that rolls through the village. Believe me, there is quite a variety on nice days; from domestics to luxury imports; a Viper to a Rolls Royce, Ferraris to Fiats and a whole selection of hot rods and tweaked trucks.
As an early arrival on McGraw, you will also witness some of the most blatant disregard for parking rules imaginable. As drivers abandon their vehicles to grab a quick latte, they will park way too closely to the STOP signs, or even on the wrong side of the street and therefore facing the wrong traffic-flow direction, or just plain ol' simple double parking. But by 9 a.m., such parking violations stop for the most part.
Also, at about this time, the kids in strollers and the dog walkers start making their appearances. The permanent iron benches on the sidewalk become doggie hitching posts as the dogs' owners tie their puppies to them as they too grab quick lattes.
One of the familiar stroller pushers is Tricia de la Bretom, 62, a professional nanny who regularly pushes her charge, Alex, up and down McGraw. Bretom stopped to talk one day and I learned even more about the life of a familiar face.
Tricia was born in Richland and then started singing at an early age, "I've been singing since the fourth grade, mostly in church" she told me.
"Then, when I started college in Idaho in 1965," she went on, "I was doing folk music like everyone else, then switched over to jazz vocal in 1979 when I was going to Cornish. I finally got my degree in Human Services in 1989 from Western Washington."
In 1968 she left the Northwest for L.A. with her first husband who had met a recording engineer with Decca Records. "We did a number of 'midnight recordings' of my then husband's original songs while the recording studio was empty. We were on the edge of the LA music scene, hanging out at the Icehouse in Pasadena, the Troubadour, the House of the Rising Sun in Redondo Beach, etc."
"I then got with a musicians contact service in Hollywood," Tricia told me, "and they put me together with a group of musicians who played guitar, bass, drums and sax...I was the chick singer."
"Our booking agent then sent us out on two road tours throughout the Midwest under the name 'Oasis,' I remember the band broke up in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. I came back to Seattle and worked a number of odd jobs such as waitressing, working at Nordstrom for nine years, and working at the Upper Crust while Gunther owned it.
"I still do some singing," Bretom told me with a smile, "I sing with the Magnolia chorale and I'm available for funerals, weddings and anniversaries," she giggled.
Since you've done all this singing, I queried, have you ever done a record?
"I've made a lot of recordings...but not an actual record...no, I don't have a new CD on the shelves currently," Bretom laughs. "Right now, Alex is my main squeeze," she says as she hugs Alex close.
Just another interesting story from the sidewalks of Magnolia.[[In-content Ad]]