April 2018

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NL #12: “How’s the weather?”

NL #12: My colleague Joanna stays dialed in to the weather channel. I’m not much of a weather buff myself, but I love how fascinated she is by weather, and her enthusiasm has me paying more attention. All the recent volcanoes and floods do make it seem a bit like Armageddon is on its way—or maybe it’s already here.

Today in Seattle we’re having all four seasons: Cloudy and cold with sun-breaks and some chance of thunderstorms and hail. Azaleas are blooming and we’re talking hail. Crazy.

My friends May and Paul first moved here one October, just as the rains began. They learned quickly to go outside at any sign of a shadow because a shadow indicates sun, or at least light. When the sun finally emerged in early July, May and Paul spent the long days outside, knowing that they had to appreciate the sun when it showed itself but not knowing that the sun would probably shine until October. They finally got sun-weary and went inside. They returned to the South.

When my sister planned her first trip to Seattle, I told her that July and August were pretty dependably sunny, so she scheduled a visit for late July. We went to Paradise, the blooming fields below Mt. Rainier. It was rainy, cloudy, foggy and cold. For a brief moment, the clouds parted. We raised our rain hats and glimpsed Mt. Rainier before it was again shrouded in clouds. I guess summers are generally dependable, but, well, it is the weather.

A few years back, Ann and I decided to risk a summer storm and an iffy weather forecast and went for a hike over a ridge to a mountain lake. The hike in was beautiful: the sun shone; there was a pleasant breeze; sunlight danced on the water. As we lay down beside the lake to enjoy our lunches and a nap in isolation, we congratulated ourselves on taking the risk that others had not braved. Just then, “Kaboom!” Thunder clouds rolled over the ridge and we raced back to the parking lot, slipping on wet snow and pausing to crouch when it seemed like the lightening was right on us. We weren’t so clever as we thought.

We love Seattle and we also love the countries we visit in Latin America. One similarity between Seattle and Latin American countries near the equator is that each has two seasons: wet and dry. Seattle’s wet season is generally Oct-June. That's a long wet season. There are so many differences—in Latin America most official business is in Spanish, it gets warm enough to swim, and color is in. In Seattle, not.

In North Carolina, where I grew up, there are four seasons: Winters it usually snows; Spring enters beautifully with dogwoods and daffodils blooming against a clear blue sky and golfers in their funny outfits enjoying the 70 degree, low humidity weather; Summers are hot and muggy with afternoon thunderstorms that will rattle your fillings; Fall reds and golds in the mountains look like swaths of paint across the landscape. There’s a kind of poetry about this dance of the seasons.

Seattle’s weather invites stand-up comedy more than poetry. This is a beautiful place: in what southerners call the spring, azaleas and tulips bloom in the rain; in the winter, rain falls as snow in the mountains; in the fall, rains water the evergreens and in the summer—ah, the summer—sunny blue skies show off the water and the mountains that surround us. Here, we live ten months for two. But even then, sometimes the weather rains on our parade and our two sunny months shrink to one.

How’s the weather out there? Mary


  1. Maybe because I was born to it, born to people born to it as well - I like the rain. I like the layers of cloud in the sky. I like the variety of the kinds of rains. In CO for undergrad, it didnt rain at all in the fall. I remember coming home for that first Thanksgiving and being so relieved the roads were flooded. Seemed so much more natural to me.

  2. After year 1 in Seattle, we discovered going east, over the Cascades to the sun in the winter. I learned to cross country ski that winter. I also remember mid February crying in the grocery store because I had a cold, it was rainy and dark at 3pm and there weren't any grits on the shelves. Some things I miss about Seattle and some things I don't.xoxo


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