You know that feeling. It radiates from your heart when you catch yourself looking west at the Olympic Mountains from some high perch in Seattle on a nice, clear day, perhaps at sunset, and you think, “Is this real life? I love this place.”

We feel it, too.

That’s why, with Valentine’s Day upon us, The Seattle Times asked readers to express themselves by writing love letters to our city, state and region.

Last-minute Valentine’s Day cards: Download and share with a loved one

And, boy, did our clever readers deliver. We got haikus, catchy valentines, lengthy tributes and even some jabs. All of the usual suspects are present: mountains, water, lush green landscape and, yes, the darkness and relentless winter rain. But there’s also plenty of love for our communities and the people who make them great.

Here are the best, sweetest and most interesting love letters from Seattle Times readers.

Thank you, Seattle, for being so green, so mild, so enriching, and so welcoming — the beauty of the Cascade Mountains invites us outside into the wonders of nature, while the city offers numerous opportunities for entertainment and relaxation in its theaters and arts/music programs. I’ve been here since 1969 and have never looked back — Happy Valentine’s Day to the country’s greatest place to live!Jean Lanz

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Seattle, you’ve been my home for the past 22 years. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs. There were those times I left you, only to return quickly, and with enthusiasm. And, sure, we’ve both changed over the years. You’ve grown up, into a major metropolitan city, bringing with you more people who claim you as home, more cars on the road and more homes shoehorned into your finite space. It’s OK. I’ve grown up, too. Under your supervision, I’ve climbed mountains and skied down them. I’ve swam in the lake and across it — just because. I’ve built a career and made my logical family here — those to whom I’m not biologically related, but who are, indeed family. Because the thing is, Seattle, we get each other. We may not always see eye to eye. We may disagree and then make up. But I love you for what you are and what you’re becoming. Because while we’re on the precipice of major change, while your future is uncertain and your tenacity is being tested, you’re still the only place I call home.Angela Curran

A Valentine Haiku: Seattle my home / We will survive this lost time / Come embrace the hope.Rob Wallner

I would start with how captivating Seattle is. I live in Turkey, but Seattle feels like home to me. Whenever its name is mentioned, in the news, in a movie, anywhere, my heart skips a beat. The vibrant city, the beautiful, artistic, creative people in Seattle will always be my muse. Seattle is just very fascinating to me. There’s something about it that for the life of me, I cannot describe. I hope one day I get to live there. Put on headphones and walk on its streets and maybe even get lost. Literally and figuratively.Diana (no last name provided)

Dear Seattle, I love you because: You give me fresh air, green space and somehow a calmness, You give me excitement and hustle and bustle, You give me diversity so I can appreciate all cultures, You give me a place called HOME. (Born at the UW — 54-year-old lifelong resident)Monique Ryan

Fidalgo Island Valentine: The rocks and trees are all there is, up on old Mount Erie. The lake is shining silver white, the sky looks gray and gloomy. It’s winter time in Washington, we wait and watch for spring. The fields of tulips soon will bloom; again our hearts will sing.Anonymous

TOUGH LOVE: Mountain tops flow down to the sound, the beauty of the views, keep me wanting more of you. Each day, sunny or gray, my smile does not fade, but the dollars needed to stay, makes me want to run away!Dave (no last name provided)

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This is the opening to something I wrote summarizing the reasons not to buy bottled water. I found my inspiration for that important but boring topic by thinking about what I love about Washington state: My home is in Washington state, the western half — the wet half. People elsewhere think it rains all the time here. We natives smile smugly and say yeah, it’s awful. But truthfully, summer in the Pacific Northwest is heaven on earth. We don’t run from the water; we run to it, and we don’t have to run far. From Seattle, in an hour or two, you can be at the ocean digging clams, on a lake catching fish, or in the mountains fording crystal streams. Please don’t tell anyone.Anita Wahler

Living through The Big Dark for the last 16 years has been the perfect crucible for this pandemic. This former Californian has learned to appreciate — nay, LOVE — Seattle winter, with its atmospheric rivers sending down cavalcades of rain lasting for days, its ominous, blue-tinted dusks at noon, and occasional bright bursts of freshly scrubbed sunny days with deep blue skies. Spending my time in my home bubble, I am in love with my daily solitary walks outside. My neighborhood is resplendent with iconic February-in-Seattle colors, the air is clean and smells of wet dirt and decaying leaves, and I have developed a fondness for the construction crew building new town houses next door and their hammering and sawing and bantering throughout the day. It’s the little things, I guess, and all about your perspective. And another lesson that moody, often dreary, but perpetually astonishing Seattle has taught me: I wouldn’t live anywhere else.Martina Loeffelmann

Puget Sound, I’ve loved your geography from the moment I first saw you as a college student visiting for a long weekend. Your white-capped mountains that tumble down to glistening waters. I love your weather, sometimes wet, sometimes blustery, but never extreme the way other parts of the nation have it. Seattle, I love your embrace of diversity and attempts to be on the right side of history. I love walking your streets on a drizzly winter day with a hot cup of coffee. I love your chefs and your vastly underrated restaurants (New York and San Francisco get all the love, but I don’t need to lavish my attention on their neediness, you literally fulfill me). I love your grit, too. You’re real. You’re not dying, you’re struggling to get to the Next Thing that is better for everyone and I love you for it.Frank Field

Dear Seattle, You remember when I visited Frederick & Nelson‘s tearoom as a little girl visiting from Sedro-Woolley in the ’50s. You know my footsteps on Capitol Hill when I went to St. Nicholas School in the 60s, and my youthful run through the UW campus getting to a 7:30 class on Monday mornings in the early ’70s. I have loved you when we were together, and even though we’re apart now, I long for you to be my Valentine. True love lasts a lifetime. Please be mine.Holly Reid