It’s not just you — it’s been a miserable winter because of rain. You shared with us your rain stories and how you cope (or don’t cope) in essays, poetry and photos. Bottom line: Oh, boy, did you answer.
Enjoyed the few days of partly sunny skies this week? Look out the window: The rain’s back.
We asked for your stories about dealing with our rain, which at the beginning of 2017 is about as bad as it’s ever been.
We heard from newcomers (surprise, some are not depressed) and some natives (some are really depressed).
You answered with essays, poems, a haiku, reminiscences, photos.
Some of you were like Mike Ristow, an electrical contractor “born and raised in Seattle” but currently residing in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, and couldn’t resist gloating. (Weekend forecast for the Big Island, high 80s.) His email included a link to a video of “It’s a Jimmy Buffett Christmas!”
And then there was Owen Ashurst, who lived six decades in Seattle. He now lives in San Diego (weekend forecast, low 70s). He sent a photo of himself on the beach. His cell number still has a 206 area code. “Just to remind me!”
It’s not you — it’s bad this year
We have particular reason for gloomy thoughts about this winter and our incessant rain. This February (8.85 inches) is the wettest on record since 1961 (9.11 inches). And in the first two weeks of March, we got nearly as much rain as is average for the entire month of March (3.55 inches versus 3.72 inches).
You can see by the accompanying historical rainfall chart for our Februaries that for a few years we get lulled into thinking it’s not so bad. Then, bam!
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As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Seattle is a moisturizing pad disguised as a city.”
And it’s not just the rain.
In Seattle, it always seems to look like it’s going to rain. In March, through the first 14 days, 12 saw at least 80 percent of the sky covered with clouds.
Rain and more rain is in this region’s DNA.
The book “Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition” includes excerpts from explorers writing about our coastal weather. “The rain continues, with Tremendious gusts of wind, which is Tremendious. The winds violent Trees falling in every direction, whorl winds, with gusts of rain Hail & Thunder, This kind of weather lasted all day, Certainly one of the worst days that ever was!”
The tribal peoples had a different attitude.
The book explains that “the Indians went about their daily routine knowing that wind, rain, and thunder were but spirit forces making their powers known for all to see. Paddling canoes that defied the worst waves and wearing hats and capes admirably suited to wet days, the Chinookans may have paused to wonder why the bearded men in the log lodge feared the weather and hid from it.”
We had better get used to more Februaries and Marches like we’ve experienced.
A Seattle Public Utilities study predicts that because of climate change, the Seattle shoreline will rise 7 inches in the next 30 years. Plus, expect “warmer and wetter” winters.
You know the rainy street scene in “Blade Runner” with the unremitting drizzle? The future!
Time for your responses.
Becoming a believer
“I used to tell newcomers that they had an 18-month whining period. After that you need to realize that the clouds and rain are not an aberration, and that you have to adapt,” says Rick Platz, who now lives in Denver for family reasons.
In this area he worked in marketing. “My personal epiphany was when I realized I wasn’t looking at layers of gray every day on my commute from Bellevue to Seattle on the I-90.”
The epiphany was about finding beauty in all that gray! Such beauty that Platz wrote a poem. It begins, “Passing waves of pillows, Cascading from the skies, Layers of gray and light, Floating past our eyes, Evolving through the night …”
Then there is Meighan Pritchard, the pastor of Prospect United Church of Christ on Capitol Hill. She offered a haiku, based on her daily bicycle commute:
Bike through the monsoon
Dry clothes await arrival
Oh look — daffodils!
There’s something about the rain that inspires our creativity.
Author Tom Robbins wrote in “Edge Walking on the Western Rim,” a collection of essays by Northwest writers:
“I’m here for the weather.
“In the deepest, darkest heart of winter, when the sky resembles bad banana baby food for months on end, and the witch measles that meteorologists call ‘drizzle’ are a chronic gray rash on the skin of the land, folks all around me sink into a dismal funk. Many are depressed, a few actually suicidal. But I, I grow happier with each fresh storm, each thickening of the crinkly stratocumulus. ‘What’s so hot about the sun?’ I ask. Sunbeams are a lot like tourists: intruding where they don’t belong, little cameras slung around their necks. Raindrops, on the other hand, introverted, feral, buddhistically cool, behave as if they live here. Which, of course, they do.”
Making peace with the wet
Says Brooke McDaniels of Fife who, for existential purposes, considers herself part of Rain City:
“I have been a Seattle native my whole life — 34½ years to be exact! When you’ve lived here your whole life, the rain isn’t something you think about much, unlike the newly implanted here. You make do the best you can — rain or not. You drive in it, play in it, work in it … it’s our life as a Washingtonian. I plan on raising my kids here and, well, I’m pretty sure they’ll grow up just like I did.”
Writes Michael Hamilton, a Green Lake resident of Seattle:
“I am a native Seattleite — Swedish (Medical Center), class of 1944. Always loved the many moods of rain — sprinkles, showers, downpours. Each brings its own light, smells, sounds and tastes. To fully appreciate rain, I suggest one has to listen closely to its rhythm and blues. When I catch its beat on my skylights, like a jealous lover demanding to be let in, I drift away into a deep relaxing sleep and awake refreshed, thankful for the experience.”
Rain, rain, rain — I can’t handle the truth
For Owen Ashurst, who now lives happily in San Diego, the unrelenting grayness of Seattle became too much.
“Over the years I found dealing with the wet, gray oppressiveness of the late fall, winter and early spring became, quite simply, unbearable. At some point, I found that using the pressure sprayer to blast away the moss and mold from the deck, sidewalk and other surfaces in the spring had lost its sense of romance and accomplishment,” he writes. “ … The overriding sense of color was … well … 50 shades of gray. And I don’t mean that in a sensually stimulating way.”
Jill Hammond, a Seattle-area resident until four years ago, emailed from Tasmania, Australia (weekend forecast, 79 degrees, sunny), where she works as a document controller for a local utility:
“I had no idea how normal people lived around the world; that is, with clear skies and daylight. Here, if it rains it is usually for part of a day. There might be clouds in the sky, but there are sunbreaks as well. Light gets through. It is remarkable how much of a difference it makes to one’s mood. I cannot believe I put up with the gray drizzle for so long.”
Newcomers — it’s not like they didn’t know our reputation
Says Cyndi Aiona, a contract manager with Amazon: “I went to college in Oregon. I got a job in Seattle, and I had been here a couple summers before. Summer is different, tell me about it. I’ve been here since 1985, my two kids have been raised here. I still have not gotten used to the weather.” She also co-produces the annual “Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival” in Seattle.
Seattle is fine, she says.
But returning home to visit friends and relatives in Hawaii, like she did in October, and feeling the warm air as she walks out of the airport: “I just feel different. My body is alive again.”
Rodelyn Coppock has moved here from the Bay Area for a job ahead of her husband and kids, who’ll stay in California for another year.
“Three months straight with all this rain, my scooter has only left the garage three times and I’m starting to feel ‘Stay in pajamas and sweat-socks and watch movies all weekend’ kind of blue. I’m downing vitamin D, now every night turning on the sun lamp I told my husband I wouldn’t need, and trying to feel some regret that I left sunnier California for this wet and cold adventure.”
“I love my new job and my team at my new office. I’ve got a large and cute studio apartment in a cool, family-friendly neighborhood with a library, several bars and lounges, a small bookstore, coffee and ice cream shops, a church I like, a Ken’s Market and a bus stop 4 blocks away where I catch an express bus that takes me downtown every day.
“A few weeks ago I texted a girlfriend, ‘I love it here. I’m never leaving.’”