Wednesday, November 12, 2008

There are Two Seasons in Seattle: August, and The Rainy Season

We've entered "the rains" here in the Northwest, and for the past week or so, with the exception of a few hours Monday afternoon, we've been engulfed in a shroud of showers.
People living here experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder), as many who work in offices drive to work in the dark and leave also in the dark. Add to that the dank, given that the sidewalks grow mold and trees drip moss. Seattleites don't carry umbrellas; instead, we ignore the rain. If we had to open and close umbrellas, we'd waste precious hours.

Seattle joke: What did the Seattleite say to the Pillsbury Doughboy?
--Nice tan.

I have a lightbox. To those of you in southern climes (lucky ducks! Oh wait. We're the ducks...) that's a cringingly bright light that you sit in front of so that you don't go crazy. My desk lamp is a "full spectrum" florescent that ostensibly simulates the soothing rays of sunshine. Doesn't work. My kitchen light is a long "solar" bulb. I nearly wrote "blub." Like I'm underwater.

I remember emerging one afternoon from my office, looking out on the foliage and asking aloud, "what's that white stuff?" It was sunshine. I just didn't recognize it.

However, I do get some practice now and then. We have something known as a "sun break." It's part of the weather forecast, whenever possible. "Rain, then showers." "Drizzles, then rain." "Cloudy, Afternoon rain." Then, our hopes go sky-high: "Rain. Chance of sun-breaks."

Sun-breaks, you would think, are like coffee breaks anywhere else. Here in Seattle, home of Starbucks, we get them together. A "sun-break" means a little space between the clouds when the sun peeps through. If you're in a crowd, you'll hear someone yell "SUNBREAK!" and everyone drops what he's doing and runs outside to turn his face to the "white stuff," craving a mini-dose of Vitamin D. At that welcome word, you hear people formerly with cell to ear saying, "'Callya right back!" and joining the herd heading for the nearest balcony. Even a window will do.

Seattle is a great place to live. It has the highest per capita book purchasing. It is a movie mecca. It has ubiquitous coffee dens with fireplaces. Reading, movies and hibernating--sounds like winter. Ten months a year.

Oh, there's skiing. But my husband won't let any of us try it. Too dangerous. Remember Sonny Bono...though I heard some suspect he didn't ski into a tree after all. That's another story.
Don't think this is just a soppy k'vetch, though I've done a good job of it. What I wanted to say was how happy I am every morning to be able to see the rain-reflections on my patio, and the sheets of gray outside the window, and hear the pecking raindrops on our metal roof and skylight.
I decided a while ago that depressing as this constant cold, dark and wet is to this Southern California girl, I was going to make the most of it.
It's Jewish tradition to "wake up like a lion to the service of the Lord," and after a few moans in my warm down-comforter sleep-number bed, I force myself. "Modeh ani," I recite, the traditional expression of gratitude for being allowed another day. And then, I look outside.
"And ANOTHER gray day in the grayest region on God's green earth!" I leap out of bed like a lion groping for her slippers.
Truth is, I didn't really see much more than the color outside, because before inserting my contact lenses, the world is fuzzy. But after throwing on my gym clothes, I finally pop in my vision and take a look.
"...Pokayach ivrim." That's part of the morning blessings: Blessed is God...who gives sight to the blind. And that's when I don't mind the rain at all.
On the way into the gym today, leaves fallen from two trees, amber and crimson and gold, mingled on the startlingly green grass to create a collage that sparkled with the rain. I was surprised by its beauty. But I didn't pause too long. Because, without an umbrella, I was getting drenched.


  1. I agree about the Seattle weather. Absolutely love this city, but it does depress me to go to work and leave from work in the dark. Add on top of that the fact that the building I work in has no windows, and I don't believe the sun ever comes out anymore.

    Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy died within the same week while skiing. Perhaps that's why Michael thinks it's too dangerous. You could always try snowboarding. That wasn't as popular then. Haven't heard of any popular people getting killed snowboarding.

  2. Cam, thanks for reading my blog; I checked out yours (great!) and borrowed a video I saw, thanks again! BTW, Sonny Bono's jacket had blood all over the BACK so conspiricists think he was assaulted, killed and then they made it look like he skiied into a tree.
    BTW, my husband NEVER allowed me to try skiing, though once, when he was out of town, I did try it with our son...I had an intimate encounter with the snow, but it was fun!

  3. I, too, am from So. Cal. (born and raised in L.A. County -- yikes!); however, I hated, hated, hated all that sunshine and fled up to the PNW as soon as I could.

    A few weeks ago, you'll probably remember, we had an unseasonable burst of sunny days (early October, I think) and I was mopey. My husband asked, "What's wrong? Is it the election?"

    "No," I moaned, "It's the weather. What is it -- like 70 out there? Where is my rain?"

    I guess my S.A.D. only comes when I have to trade my boots and sweaters for capris and sandals. And I guess, too, that is why I am so very seldom sad up here in my soggy wonderland.

    P.S. Even though I cannot relate on the weather thing, I just want you to know how much I've appreciated your writing on this blog and in your books.

  4. Wow, Justine, thank you. My husband doesn't mind the rain, either...which is why I tough it out here (I always tell him: I could live in a shoebox as long as I'm with you!) ..and I hope you, too, enjoy every drippy day and sodden season!

  5. I'm from Wisconsin and I've come to be okay with the weather here. I kind of miss the snow, until it actually does snow and the city is paralyzed. I actually like the rain. I like waking up in the middle of the night and hearing it outside. And it beats -10 any day.

    And I have an umbrella and use it. I see lots of other people with them, too. The ones without look and usually smell like wet sheep.

  6. Hahaha! I'm glad you liked the video. I feel so bad for some of the people who can't afford or adapt to new TV sets. It's going to be a struggle for them.

    Thanks for checking out my blog. My dad and I are big fans of Michael. I stumbled upon your blog via Michael's Townhall blog. We are actually more closely related than you think. My cousin's name is Shannon (leaving out last name for privacy reasons) who I believe is good friends with your daughter. Anyway, not that important, but I thought that was a fun little fact. =)

  7. I'm a SoCal girl myself (San Diego) and the way you describe the sun breaks makes me think of the brief shower we had a couple of weeks ago.

    I was on the freeway, and silently cursed the vehicle in front of me for using their windshield spray without thought for the droplets that would get lost behind their 70 mph momentum and splatter onto the windshields of those unfortunate enough to be behind them (a pet peeve of mine). It took me a moment to realize that those droplets were coming from the sky!

    I love your blog, love your perspective, and love your husband's show! Thanks for writing!

  8. Is it fair to say that the whole 'stealth blog' thing is over?

  9. Amen,Sister! Don't even get me started.

  10. HA! Love all the comments, and yes, Ruth Anne, it's my own fault for posting a link when my husband lifts my posts!
    Cam, yes, Shannon is a neighbor and good friend; btw Juliana is adorable!
    Jenny, your reaction to rain is similar to mine to sun, nowadays--I say what's the WHITE stuff; you say what's the WET stuff!
    I do feel a bit guilty for complaining, though...

  11. I just found your blog and I wanted to tell you that this was beautiful! I sometimes struggle with mild SAD, and I appreciate the reminder to be grateful in every circumstance.