That’s because every summer, I delude myself that maybe, maybe our climate is changing. Warming. Like the rest of the planet. That maybe, maybe the gorgeous, lazy, long summer days we enjoy from July to September will … extend a little later. Or start before July 4.
You get sucked in, you see. For those precious, brief three months of summer, the entire region collectively develops amnesia. Everyone puts on shorts and grills outside every night and the ice cream shops do brisk business. When I worked full time, I remember e-mails that said: “Nice out. Taking off early to go for a bike ride.” Everyone understood. In summertime, all is forgiven.
Then, fall comes, like a giant, gray garage door closing. The nights get chillier, the leaves start turning yellow. And just when you’re starting to despair, you’ll get a week of incredible, mid-70s weather and it’s like, “Screw you, pumpkin spice lattes!” But it’s just the last gasp. It’s over.
The shorts get put back in their plastic tubs and stored in some distant closet. The kids go back to school (well, THAT part is good) and grilling gets replaced by roasting pans and goddamned root vegetables. The puffy coat comes out of hibernation. You flip on the light box. You gather every bit of solar strength you retained over the summer and hope it can hold you until July. If you can, you plan a trip to somewhere sunny — anywhere, San Diego is fine — around February.
I’m a California girl: Born in Los Angeles, brought up in sunny San Ramon, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Went to school at UC Davis, where the temps languish in the triple digits from May to September. The closest I’d come to gray skies, before moving to the Pacific Northwest 8 years ago, was a stint in the Sunset District of San Francisco. There, the fog would hang so heavy and thick in the summertime that Steve and I called it Fjordland. I thought Fjordland prepared me for the Puget Sound.
There’s not much I can say about Seattle-area weather that hasn’t already been said. I think the situation is best summed up by this Oatmeal comic, called “The 4 Seasons of Seattle.” Eight years ago, Steve and I flew up to house-hunt in August, when it was 78 degrees and gorgeous, and it stayed light until 10 p.m. “This place is paradise!” we marveled, and then we bought a house.
Two months later, when I drove up from the Bay Area with my brother, it started raining right after we crossed the California/Oregon border. My brother, also a sunshine child, turned to me and said, “Are you sure about this?”
But eight years later, I’m entrenched. I have a life here, and friends. My kid’s school is around the corner. My husband loves his job. And last year, we passed a same-sex marriage law at the ballot box — didn’t need to get the courts involved. Washingtonians have a Scandinavian, shrug-your-shoulders attitude about stuff like that. You want to marry another man? Okee doke. Want to smoke dope? The cops have some Doritos for your munchies. It’s too wet for lots of fiery rhetoric, I guess.
When I go back to California, I’m turned off by the brown hills (Golden State? It’s brown). The wall-to-wall traffic makes me claustrophobic. Yes, Seattle has lousy weather most of the time, but it’s green and lush. The mountains are amazing. So is the water. And when the sun’s out, it’s so very breathtaking. I can’t count all the beautiful days I spent inside when I was a Californian — I didn’t appreciate it at all. But here, if the sun’s out and it’s 55 degrees, the parks are teeming with kids and people put on shorts.
It’s late October. The leaves are swirling on the ground and I can see my breath when I go outside to do the walk-pool in the morning. It’s time for The Great Darkness. Maybe this year, the weather won’t bother me as much as it usually does. It’s possible, right?