Salmon of Seattle


I took a Northwest History class at the UW as part of my undergrad.The professor, who’s name I’m completely forgotten, had a theory that if the Seattle region were to have a symbol, it would be the salmon. Not because salmon and their fresh water cousins are unique to the area but because the Seattle area has a unique relationship to the fish.

I listened to the lecture, mulled it over, and decided it was baloney.

Of course, there’s the fish latter at the locks and Pike Place Fish Market is famous for throwing the daily catch around. And it’s true that locals eat a lot of salmon (fresh, cold and hot smoked, whatever), but that’s hardly a reason to saddle an entire region with a salmon fixation.

As a poor student, I had a colorful salmon dish and a salmon wall print. Oh, and another salmon dish for my keys. But that was all.

Over the next two weeks, I encountered dozens of salmon sightings. I saw them painted on bus stops, trash cans and mailboxes. Salmon sculptures and artwork decorated business lobbies and my doctor had displayed salmon watercolors in the waiting room. A salmon mural was painted on the side of a coffee house.

Okay, so Seattle may like Salmon.

Then, I walked into an elementary school and learned that the theme of the month was salmon. (what? really?) The school’s long hallway had been transformed into an elaborate science project depicting the life cycle of salmon; (salmon eggs were cotton balls dyed pink, the spawning action was shown with glitter). The social science readings covered Native American legends and rituals around the sacred salmon. And the art projects were big posters explaining what we all must do to protect the environment and save the Salmon.

That’s when I conceded.

For kicks, here’s my Pinterest board Salmon of Seattle

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