Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Real Seattle

6 inches of rain forecast for tonight...
The real Seattle is, for much of the year, much like the TV cliches that translate it to the rest of the world. We have two seasons: Always Rainy and Not So Rainy. Now, fortunately for those of us who live here, the only face time our great city gets with the larger country is during our Always Rainy season, which is scary enough to ward off many would-be transplants and, in the event of global war, potential invaders. This season, whose sloppy November palms clutch me more wetly than most as I spend 8 hours a day fully exposed to its elements, is dark. I mean this both in the literal, lack-of-photons, can't-tell-if-the-sun-just-came-up-or-is-about-to-go-down sense (no exaggeration here, the sun rises and sets in the South), and in the figurative, dismal, poetically hopeless sense. I consider myself of a fortunate disposition because I genuinely enjoy the gloomy coziness, but for the most part Seasonal Affective Disorder is passed around like (but not exclusive of) the flu.
So what keeps people here? Well first of all, not everyone is successfully "kept". Wanderlusty nomads who end up in Seattle by virtue of its status as an extremity of the continental U.S. often crack after an Always Rainy season or two, skipping off to Hawaii because, after all, what's so bad about the non-continental U.S.? Even native sons and daughters defect to other climes, choosing warm clammy humidity over the cold precipitous sort (factoid: Seattle is unique among cities in its ability to summon drenching, bone-chilling rain from frozen skies which are, I'm positive, too cold to release anything but soft dry snow anywhere else in world. Really, there's no greater feeling of weather-related thermodynamic injustice than when scowling at a thermometer which clearly reads 28 degrees F even as rain continues to saturate your fifth and final layer of clothing). Those who do tough out the flooded streets, Vitamin D deficiency and frequent, expensive laundromat trips do so by employing the tried and true combination of strong spirits, hot coffee, good literature, cocktails, frequent sexual release, Gore-tex, wine, endless Netflix queues, seasonal ales and board games (ask any stranger on the street, any time, he'll be down for a game of Scrabble). There is also your choice of half a dozen nearby ski areas some of which, I'm told, are among the best in the world; but this is dangerously close to genuine enticement, which, in selfish isolationism I am trying to avoid, so enough about skiing.
Actually, enough about Seattle. I was going to wax poetic about the Not-So-Rainy season and explain why those who experience it become stubbornly convinced that this is unconditionally the best place in the world. For fellow gardners out there, I was going to issue a challenge to find a climate, anywhere on Earth that allows a broader, more beautiful spectrum of plant material to be grown or that offers more astonishing seasonal transitions. On these topics I shall hold my tongue, because the rest of the world doesn't need to know about the real Seattle. No, I'd rather you go watch your TV and remind yourself why you wouldn't like it here; it just rains too much, right?

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