Sunday, January 13, 2008

Longer Days

The Fog, copyright SGH

It's good to live in the Middle Atlantic coastal area. We get bright sunny days in winter, even though it is that white winter sun one sees in the Vermeer interiors, slanting palely through the window.

Here, we have constructed a wind-break so we can actually sit out behind our house on cold winter days and sun ourselves! And now that we are past the winter solstice, the sun is making good progress back up into the overhead sky from nearly below the horizon where it was a few weeks ago.

Even better than the longer days here, with more hours of sunlight and better moods, are the longer days in Seattle where I used to live and my children and grandchildren still live.

Once I did an art show called "Puget Sound Moods." It was part of a small exhibition for the opening of a tall, handsome new building for a business in Issaquah WA. I chose gouache paintings I had done during cold months and mounted them in dun colored mats and framed them in sort of pickled greenish-grey frames, which matched the colors of wintertime western Washington State.

North of Shilshoal, copyright SGH

One thing I loved about living there, was that people don't usually remark about the dreary weather. What they do remark about, at the supermarket or at work, is when there is a precious "beautiful day"; it's really wonderful --healthy --to hear positive words wafting about you as you do your day.

People there don't stay inside "because of the dreadful weather." They go out in it. They typically don't bother with umbrellas, but nearly everyone wears a raincoat for any cool day's outerwear, just as an everyday coat.

My young children (as doubtless now do their young children) were apt go out in wet weather hatless and almost certainly without boots. Normal. I remember soccer games on the back yard where muddy little boys slid and made infuriatingly long glistening tracks in my lawn. On their way in to the kitchen to slake voracious appetites, they would shed their shirts and pants in the carport. And...they would put them back on and go out again!

Once the neighborhood boys set up a long strip of black visquine plastic sheeting that ran from the top to the bottom of the sloped back yard and spent a rainy day sliding happily down it like a water slide. They used the hose to make the sliding more fun.

In Issaquah, where we lived, the "rain" in the moist shadow of Tiger Mountain is more like mist that just sifts down like manna. It's really not at all unpleasant. But there is a lack of light, and it is longer and more pronounced than we have here in the lower latitudes; in December, at the bottom of the year, it gets dark at about four pm and doesn't get light until about 10 am the next day. That is DARK.

Some time in March, Puget Sound yawns and wakes from its deepest moodiness. The bulbs by then are studding the landscape like easter eggs and some of the early flowering trees are pinking up.

By the end of July, there will be a stretch that folks keep sort of quiet about, lest too many people flock in from other states. It's the stretch between late July and the end of September when there is nothing but glittering brilliance that glitters over the waters of the Sound and the pretty lakes. Mount Rainier sits proudly to the southeast and pretends that it has always been there.

Dozens of people tell you every day how beautiful the weather is and how lucky a person is to live in the Pacific Northwest. And you agree.

Fishboats, copyright SGH
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