There are still a few folks sleeping in Victor Steinbrueck Park at 8:45 on a Monday morning. One fellow is on the slight slope, wrapped in a gray blanket, his head covered in a beat-up straw hat. I want to explore Seattle on foot, and I figure if I am going to walk through the city, I might as well start at the soul of the place. There's a fair amount of agreement that the Pike Place Market, celebrating its 100th birthday this year, is the soul of Seattle. It has the history, of course, and also the politics, a little anarchy, a little larceny, a lot of commerce. There is something medieval about the market – part daily fair, part shopping center. And there is enough grit to remind a person that whether you are buying an apple, a piece of fish, or a pot, someone's handled it, someone's thought about how to get it to you, someone's made it. There are still flecks of dirt on the flowers. The clean-up crew from Seattle Parks and Recreation is lingering over take-out breakfasts and telling jokes to one another, the lawn mowers still on the truck. A few early-rising tourists are taking pictures from the ledge, from where the water is gray, the ferries are white, and the Olympics lie hidden in clouds. Dog walkers are in the park this morning. A schnauzer retrieves a green tennis ball, waking up one of the guys sleeping on the grass. Another guy grabs a plastic bag from a dispenser and walks behind his Doberman. The market is where, as they say, people of all walks of life walk side by side. It is still early enough that the groggy share their moments of cigarettes and coffee, no matter the income level. The painter Mark Tobey used to hang out and sketch the market. One day, from the faces of the constant stream of people, Tobey "picked out one man as someone I would like to know. He had looked at me with his friendly eyes – I felt he knew me, so why not speak? 'What is your lineage?' But I did not expect the answer I got. 'Adam and Eve, just like you, my son.'" By 9 a.m., the daily lottery for the market's day stalls gets under way, the next bit of drama. The crowd is loud, and there are constant shouts of "quiet down!" from Marlene Allen, the market master taking the numbers at this odd lottery and writing them down with grease pen on the map on the wall. If the market is the soul of the city, then these day-stall merchants and sellers of crafts and other goods are the cranky conscience of the market itself. They make clear that this is a highly political place, where every change is scrutinized for intent and some diabolical plot is often seen in the cracks. A representative for the market constituency, the public group that helps with governing the market, takes the floor just before the lottery for the day stalls begins. She urges everyone to join the public association, pay their dues, and vote on upcoming issues. There are media reports that the Market Public Development Authority might replace any broken floor tiles with concrete. If you care about the history of the market, she implores these patient folks, get involved. Then she mutters a short prayer that someone please challenge her in the upcoming election. She sounds like she'd gladly step aside if that occurred. There are broken tiles, some so cracked that a person scouring the floor for his or her own name might miss it. Others have already been replaced with concrete. The Seattle Times does indeed report that market officials are thinking about what to do with the thousands of floor tiles. People paid to have their names, their funny sayings, their hopes, and even numbers etched into the tiles. The market used the tiles to raise money. Now renovation plans require a determination of what to do with the tiles. People have invested heart and soul into them, so the politics of even this one detail of a market renovation could get ugly. The flower sellers are already set up. Longtime market musician Jim Hinde already is singing, "This land is your land." The high-stallers have their fruit arranged. The fishmongers at Pure Fish Seafood have already slimed their aprons. The market is almost awake now. A chuckling madman is delighting himself up against the windows by the ramp that leads to the still-closed shops down under. The bathrooms at the bottom of the ramp are open. They are a good pit stop, where you can just stand there and watch the all the different people streaming in and out. The market is shaking itself awake, yet it is slow enough that the guy peeling leaves off fresh radishes for Alvarez Farms asks if I want any radishes. Seems too early for a radish, especially when I can smell the donut machine at Daily Dozen Donuts already cranking out the little donuts dusted in white sugar and colored sprinkles. Swanberg's Gifts is open and apparently still making money selling postcards and plastic beads. Lowell's has a breakfast crowd. The fish guys who have been featured in every tourist video tossing fish are already hollering out their call and response to every order, cries that will echo through the market all day. Half an hour later and the day-stallers have dispersed to their allotted few feet of shelf space. On the counters are photographs, hand-painted skill scarves, cut-stone night lights, Pike Place T-shirts, and countless drawings of fish and produce and the Pike Place Market sign. The market is a wonder of old places still operating, new places popping up. I don't know how many times I've walked by the White Horse Book Store in Post Alley and admired the signs: "Open 8 til Late, Where the locals drink, Well-behaved dogs welcome." Down Post Alley, we can peer into the windows of architects at their desks or folks in the Health Clinic. The shoppers, the tourists, the buskers, the gawkers, the dawdlers, winos, junkies, the homeless, the poor, the cops, the workers, the vacationers are streaming in. Down in the Sound View Café, the breakfasts are coming out steadily. The view of the Sound from this place is the kind that condo-owners are paying millions for, but it can still be had for the price of a cup of coffee. Ferries ply the waters. Cranes on the Duwamish loom over the big ships. An old Van Morrison tune, "Domino," keeps the cooks company, catchy as it was 30 years ago when the market went through its last renewal, saved for the people who come here to dawdle and who know a real thing, even one that is tarnished and tawdry and sometimes even a little tarted up. Every walk through the Pike Place Market is a different journey. This was mine, this time.