Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Wore a Sweater and Long Pants Today. Welcome to Summer, Seattle Style.

After living here for nearly two years, I can officially call myself a Seattleite. I know my way around the city without having to pull out the GPS. I've learned to avoid the death stare from the checkout girl at Whole Foods by never asking for a plastic bag (a serious environmental faux pas). And I'm more likely to be found in the de rigueur Seattle wardrobe of jeans and flip flops than a dress and heels. But the one thing I can't - and refuse to - do is adjust to this phenomenon called "weather."

Seattle's weather comes in the form of a delightful mixture of rain, clouds, 55 degree highs and an increased propensity to go off the emotional deep end a la Jack Nicholson in the Shining. (The Pacific Northwest is considered one of the "serial killer capitals of the world." A coincidence? I think not.) As I read my friends' Facebook status updates complaining about sun and 90 degrees in Tennessee, I find myself grumbling out loud at the computer screen. Four seasons and sunshine. What more could you people possibly want?

When I first moved to Seattle, I was told that if I could survive a Seattle winter, that I would love it here come summer. I heard various versions of "summer is glorious," "summer makes the rest of the year worthwhile" and "every summer day is sunny and 80 degrees." Long-perpetuated myths to increase the population, perhaps? My first winter here, though, wasn't so bad. In fact, it was downright pleasant compared to Tennessee. Highs are in the 40s and low 50s, it doesn't snow and while it's dreary, that's winter for you.

But then May hit. The weather didn't change except for temperatures rising to around 55 degrees. June - the same with the rare 60-something day. July 4th - the same except it was pouring down rain. When I complained, I heard another Seattle catch phrase - "summer doesn't begin until the 5th of July." Sure enough, July 5th was warmer, sunny even, but except for a couple of weeks of sun and warmth, summer 2010 was a bust. I was assured that it was a particularly bad summer, a fluke and to hang on - "next summer will definitely be better."

Well, next summer is here, and if it has hit 80 degrees yet, I'm not aware of it. It's rained several times this week. It rained this morning, in fact. And if you noticed the title of this blog post, I have spent the week attired in various layers of winter clothes. I refuse to drag my boots back out, however, no matter how ridiculous I may look in open-toe shoes when for all intents and purposes it's still winter, no matter what the calendar may say.

Most people discuss the weather to make polite conversation. Not so in Seattle. Weather is THE topic of conversation, and they take it very seriously. I've heard people talking about the weather in the elevator, on the street, over dinner in restaurants and in nail salons. Seattleites love to commiserate with each other when it comes to the weather as if they are comrades of war. And if you've lived here long enough, I suppose that is exactly what it feels like.

Newcomers to Seattle learn to never leave the house without an umbrella, yet despite the rain, you probably won't need it. (The running joke is that the easiest way to spot a tourist in Seattle is to see whether they have an umbrella open.) It rarely rains hard enough to justify one, yet it rains just hard enough that after a long walk outside, you're drenched. Why would you take a long walk outside in the rain, you ask? Because if you didn't, you would never leave the house.

Those rare days when sun is predicted, what that really means is that you wake up to clouds. It may even drizzle a little. Then more clouds. Still, more clouds. Around 4 pm, the sky begins to lighten. Hopes begin to rise. By 6 pm, the sun is out, only to begin setting a couple of hours later. Two weeks ago, I read that over 300 days had passed without the temperature climbing to 80 degrees. And for the entire month of June 2011, only one day met the meteorological criteria to be considered sunny.

Forgive the rant. I'm headed out now. Walgreens. My doctor called me earlier today with the diagnosis: Vitamin D deficiency.


  1. Greetings from Knoxville! Been to Seattle and loved it, during the Fall no less, and really did not experience much rain, sure was cold by the water though. Had an opportunity and considered moving there not so long ago. However, while considering the move I happened to meet several Seattleite's who managed to "get out", and were happy to do so...

    Love the post and wish you continued success! Hope you will accept my URL, as I am trying to get a new venture off the ground here in KnoxVegas :)

    Skydive Dave

  2. Hey, Rebecca. I totally feel you with the weather here. I've been here 5 years, and I still can't handle it! :)

  3. Dearest Little defines what mood I will be in for the day! If there is not sunshine, even for a few hours, each day I feel as though I have woke on the wrong side of the bed. For now I will keep my bed in Tennessee, but would certainly love to visit Seattle and see how I feel while there!!! BTW for those of you who have met my lil sis you know your city has gained an absolutely beautiful, talented woman.

  4. ...sidebar, isn't Walgreens the best evvvverrrrrr

  5. An addendum to my post: According to The Seattle Times, the temperature has been above 80 degrees for 79 minutes this summer. There are a couple of things to take away from this piece of trivia. One, this confirms my statement that Seattleites are obsessed with the weather - enough to count the minutes. Two, 79 MINUTES. Minutes, people. There is nothing normal about summer being counted in minutes.