Having known a number of friends toying with the idea of moving toward the city, I've been considering my favorite things about living where we do. Below are five reasons I love living in Maple Leaf. They aren't mind-blowing, in fact, they're mostly very obvious, and I think these pertain to all our little neighborhoods on our edge of town:
1. Tiny Libraries - I know these are making their way out to the burbs, but tiny libraries was one of many reasons I loved living in Fremont. When they started popping up on my own street and the surrounding areas in Maple Leaf, my heart lept! I always keep books in the back of my car (books for unexpected park days, books I need to return to friends, books I'm ready to donate). Several times now I have hopped out and traded a book in the back for something appealing in the little lending library on the sidewalk.
2. Parks - My mom took us girls to a lot of parks growing up. I have such strong, happy memories when I pass by the one with all the flags halfway between Bothell and Edmonds. That's where most often we'd end up with Elise - I remember us setting our sodas in the sand so they wouldn't fall over while we enjoyed the swings. Sure enough, our teeth met a nice amount of grainy soda when we returned. We always drove to the parks though. And as a kid, I had no complaint about this, as an adult I don't either really. I love driving to a favorite park. But you know what's even better? WALKING to the park! I love that living in one of the outskirt neighborhoods of Seattle essentially means you have a park within walking distance. For us, we have two or three, but one of them is so great it's the only one we even think to go to! Maple Leaf is made by it's incredible Maple Leaf Reservoir Park!
3. Local Businesses - For us, the local businesses starts with coffee and ends with either Ace Hardware or The Maple Bar. Not because there aren't other awesome businesses (like a Vet I can't wait to visit someday soon! When have you ever heard those words before, right?), but because we LOVE these local haunts and something about buying goods from the guy who literally lives on your street is awesome! But in our little Maple Leaf town center strip, we also have accountants, a florist, a mechanic, a cake/bakery shop, two salons, until a month ago a drug store, midwives, a naturopath, a chiropractor and a dozen other shops.
4. Short(er) Commute - I decided yesterday that the only thing that sucks about Seattle, is the traffic. It seriously is ALL the time now. And it's awful; no denying it. Everything else about our green city is awesome. That being said, living on the edge of the city is a pretty nice situation. It shortens your commute into the city for work each day, while also allowing you to avoid the nasty traffic on your off days. I really like not having to sit on 45th or 50th for close to an hour any time I want to hit I-5, or go visit my parents. Where we live now, we are essentially 15 minutes to everything! (Except Bellevue and Kirkland.) And by "shorter commute" to work, I also mean we get to commute in on a bus! Sitting on a bus, instead of behind a wheel means you're spending less money and you're probably enjoying a good book. You're also walking from your bus stop to work, which is healthier for you. Of course, this is also healthier for the environment, and for the nasty Seattle traffic so everybody please get on a bus! And now that you're on a bus, read a book. Look, I am literally solving so many major US problems right now - we're all on buses and we're reading, so there's no traffic, less exhaust, and an educated, empathetic population! I'm getting t-shirts made!
5. Community - we're still figuring this one out. But I visited our Community Council Executive Board meeting this past month, and I'm happy to know there are wonderful people who have been members of this community for 30 years. Like every part of Seattle (and Washington), the neighborhood is undergoing massive changes, amidst that, it is wonderful to have long-term, committed neighbors who can hopefully help us hold on to the very best parts of who Maple Leaf has always been, while wisely adapting to how the city needs to change. Living in tight quarters with neighbors can be frustrating - it's hard to not be all up in one another's business, but it also leads to conversations and hellos and goodbyes and "Great day to work in the yard, isn't it?" across the street. When Heidi lived here, she made friends with other moms at the coffee shop. I love that (as did she). As I said, we're still figuring this one out, but I think these specific neighborhoods have a lot of promise for community and I treasure that.