Writing about something I have to observe is always interesting and captivating because it is a chance to develop my personal observational skills and practice on transforming my thoughts on paper. There are many places and sights to visit and share personal observations. However, as a rule, people like to focus on the places of interest where a number of people have already been and are eager to talk about their discoveries. I want to believe that the attention to local sights is important indeed. Still, the evaluation of unnoticeable at first sight places and the analysis of the streets where people spend much of their time are also important tasks that cannot be ignored. In this paper, I would like to share my exploration of the community that is found around the Mount Baker Station and take into consideration the information gathered with the help of all five senses of mine in order to underline the peculiarities of the place, its sounds, tastes, smells, sights, and the things that could be touched.
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Nowadays, there are several ways a person could use to find some information about a place. First, it is possible to surf the web. Second, it is always possible to visit a public library and ask for help. Then, it is also interesting to gather the opinions of people. However, a personal observation and the development of a personal opinion seem to be one of the most effective options to gain familiarity with a community. My walking tour at Rainer Avenue South and South Forest Street did not take much time. Still, the time was enough to observe all blocks and people in them with their own thoughts, activities, and intentions. It was not enough to walk and watch. It was more important to concentrate on details, remember the smells, and compare the tastes. The peculiar feature of this place is a successful combination of an industrialized part of the city including the station and an ordinary place to live including the buildings and playgrounds around.
One of the first things that cannot be neglected in this part of the city is the noise. Walking around the chosen neighborhood, it is hard to avoid a number of sounds that come from different sides. On the one hand, there are the regular sounds from the station that inform about the arrival and departure of trains. On the other hand, a number of beeping cars could be found on the roads close to the station. Even if there is a red light at one place, there is always a green light at another place so that cars could move and traffic jam could be avoided. Besides, it is necessary to mention the noise that comes from the citizens of the neighborhood. Children play with their parents at the specially fenced playgrounds. The presence of fences proves that noises could distract people and make them vulnerable to the surroundings. Therefore, it is crucial to protect young citizens of the region. Surprisingly, there are no animals, just people and cars.
Each block has its own public: native citizens surround their homes, passersby walk or stop at Compadre Coffee to take a rest, and several young people wait for trains or buses. Though the center of the chosen community is the station, it was not crowded at the moment of the tour. Several people were waiting for something. Though they were of the same age, they did not talk to each other too much. It is hard to judge about their amicability and the desire to communicate because it was hard to comprehend if those people were at the place for the first time or they were some kind of regular visitors. At the same time, I felt comfortable because everything looked the way it had to be: casual meetings, glimpses, sudden pushes, and short phrases. Ignorance does not seem to be a regular characteristic of the chosen neighborhood, and the silence kept by the citizens and visitors of the blocks is accepted as something expected and even desirable. The neighborhood provides people with an opportunity to think, take rest, re-load, and choose the right direction.
Though there are many functional buildings on the territory, it is possible to get a kind of freedom feeling. There are many cars and buses on the streets around the neighborhood that do not want to stop and prove the fact that its citizens are in a constant movement and trains that arrive and leave the station in regards to their schedules. The majority of buildings around have their own functions. As a rule, they are created to meet some industrial goals and help people to provide the required portion of services like those at the University of Washington Consolidated Laundry, the coffee shop, and a gas station. There are no theaters or advertisement centers in the neighborhood. Therefore, it is hard to find a person, who is dressed for a special occasion. People wear jeans and other casual clothes in order to travel by train or bus, move freely, and not to be afraid to get dirty. Such choice of clothes could be explained by another important factor. Though each building is relatively new, the neighborhood does not look nice due to the presence of leaves and rubbish on the roads. It is autumn outside. Still, the government or some social services have to take care of its people and make sure that all street are cleaned, and all citizens feel comfortable there.
At the same time, some kind of slight grubbiness at streets does not determine the smells around. Of course, it is impossible to neglect the “industrial” odors caused by a huge number of cars passing by the neighborhood very often and the smell that is usually inherent to rail stations. It is hard to catch a certain odor because the neighborhood is characterized by uncertainty and movement. Some people leave, some people come, and they do not want to leave something at this place. They aim at using this neighborhood as the possibility to get the required destination point. No attachments are observed.
However, there is one thing that attracts some people and makes them love this place. Regarding the movement and changes inherent to the chosen neighborhood, there is a pleasant coffee house where people could relax, spend some time, and think about the things that are important or just pleasant. At the same time, this place could be used as a fast stop on the way to another affair. Anyway, Compadre Coffee is the source of the aroma that spreads in the neighborhood and extinguishes those unpleasant smells from cars and street dust. That coffee aroma helps people to stay strong, find enough powers to complete their duties and reach their homes, and remember that there are many pleasant little things that make their lives easier and complete.
There are no evident sources of food in the neighborhood. Still, that café is the place where a person could drink a hot cup of coffee and eat a tasty muffin or a cookie. Regarding my personal experience, this taste is compared to the hurry and changes the American people have to live in. The core of Mount Baker is that huge and technologically advanced station, the symbol of the current progress, achievements, and technologies. However, it is also the place where people can make a stop, look around, and understand that it is so easy for people to forget about the details that make their lives more interesting. The “taste” of the chosen neighborhood should remind people about all those details when they are waiting for a cab, a train, or a bus.
In general, the analysis of the Mount Baker Station helps to understand that the American life and the style preferred by a majority of the citizens are usually misunderstood. People cannot avoid their obligations and have to make fast decisions, consider the schedules, and catch the necessary train in order not to lose their opportunities and achieve the required portion of success. Though many people could think that the Mount Baker Station is not the best place to live in, it could still be a good place to think, decide, and evaluate the options.