Those Summer Nights

Editorial director Rachel Hart reflects on the endless possibilities summer presents us.

Come late spring, the yearning begins for the days when the sunlight lingers past 9 p.m., the air gets (a little) warmer and my family finally emerges from hibernation inside our cozy 1,400-square-foot home. These are the days when our back door is constantly open, our kids are running in and out, and we gain 1,000 square feet of living space from the patio, deck and backyard. They are the glorious days of summer in Seattle.

For the pack-it-all-in types like me, summer presents endless possibilities—yet still never enough time to scratch everything off the bucket list. For working parents, those extra hours of daylight mean more time to do things with our kids. And, since the day more gracefully slides into night, the town doesn’t go back into hibernation after 8 p.m., which means adults have more time to play, too.

To get you started, we’ve rounded up the perfect Seattle summer nights, with a grown-up twist: live music venues where you don’t have to stand in a puddle of beer to listen to great music; bars where you don’t have to shout at the bartender over a thumping dance beat and a hair-sprayed crowd four people deep to order a drink. From night hiking with flashlights to sipping a cocktail on a hidden-gem restaurant patio, there’s something for everyone. I, for one, am making a last call at my favorite seasonal spot in Seattle, Sambar’s patio in Ballard, which closes this month.

Also in this issue: our photo essay [not available online yet] on Seattle’s passionate cycling community—a group I admire, especially since I feel this town is not as bike friendly as it’s made out to be. The city of Madison, Wisconsin, where I lived before moving here 15 years ago, has plenty of bikes-only paths for commuters and recreational bikers. I used to take nine-mile bike rides around one of the city’s lakes several times a week. Last summer in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, I noticed bike-only lanes that have their own little stoplights and cement guardrails (with planters, natch) separating them from car lanes. This is what bike-friendly looks like, people!

The war between cars and bikes rages on, because sharing the road doesn’t always work in the utopian way that it should. Drivers are often distracted and in a rush, and they have a hard time seeing bikers, especially in the rain. And with some cyclists, there seems to be a set of rules that drivers aren’t privy to. (That stop sign was optional? Oh, thanks for the heads up.) So most of the time I stay on four wheels, but I miss the wind in my hair (helmet) and that kid-like feeling that I get when I’m riding on two.

However, I will give Seattle—Vashon Island, actually—the award for coolest bike lore, for the bike tree (pictured and explained on page 88). Bloom County author Berkeley Breathed spun a hopeful Christmas yarn out of this local curiosity in his 1994 children’s book, Red Ranger Came Calling. Get your hankies ready at the end—it alwaysmakes me pine for my childhood bike, even in the dead of winter.

Until next month,