Today (well, yesterday by now — it’s 3:52 am and I’m still awake from Tuesday) I got my scooter out for the first commute of the season. The temperature was in the 80s, and it was a perfect scooter day. Sure, it’s only a wimpy little 1987 Honda Elite 50 (49cc of RAW POWER!), but on a fine proto-summer day like this, there’s really nothing better for getting around town.

One thing you notice pretty quickly about scootering as opposed to driving a car is that you notice what’s around you a lot more. You’re more aware of your surroundings; you have to be. Any pothole could throw you off-balance and onto the pavement. Any pedestrian could step into your path, not noticing you. Any automobile is going to win a one-on-one with you. So you have to be really alert.

Besides the potential hazards, you’re really aware of smells. Bus and car exhaust is far more noticeable than when driving — I can only imagine how much it must bother bicyclists. But you also notice better smells. Bakeries, roasting coffee, grilling salmon at waterfront eateries. Later in the evening I noticed a smell that I love dearly, though objectively it’s probably not a good smell. It’s a smell of tide flats and salt water, the smell of Elliott Bay and Seattle’s waterfront. You don’t notice this smell in the winter, for whatever reason. It’s the smell of summer in Seattle. I was glad to smell it today, for the first time in 2001.

I rode to work, up to the Aurora Denny’s (which closes at 11:00 pm — what the heck is up with that?), down Fifth through downtown to the Sodo Denny’s on Fourth for a late dinner with friends, then home. Even at 1 am it wasn’t that cold on the scooter. I love scooter season.