Friday, August 2, 2013

Musings: Embracing the Rain

Isn’t it funny how so often, we find ourselves complaining about certain things that we actually end up missing when they’re gone?  Take for example, the infamous Pacific Northwest rain.  We recently experienced a lovely 35-day stretch of warm, sunny weather, which abruptly ended today with the return of gray skies and rain showers.  Given how vehemently local residents (myself included) gripe about the rainy weather during the wintertime, one would think that 35 days of sunshine would be absolute bliss.  However, as it turns out, those of us who are lifelong Pacific Northwesterners are simply not adapted to that much glorious sunshine.  After hearing from friends and coworkers today, it became clear that I was not the only person who woke up this morning, peered out the window, and immediately broke into a huge, giddy grin at the sight of heavy gray skies, dripping leaves, and wet pavement.

 If this is your idea of beautiful weather... you might just be from Washington

Why do we miss the rain so much?  For me, it’s a comfort thing.  The sound of rain drumming on the roof, hearing the rush of cars sloshing through wet streets, smelling the intoxicating earthy “fresh air after the rain” smell—those are things that I became familiar with growing up in this region famous for its rainy weather, and probably more so than anything else, those things bring back memories and offer a comforting feeling of home.  Give me 35 days of sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s, and I start feeling a little panicky.  The grass is turning brown, the air is getting smoggy, I’m sweaty all the time and I’ve forgotten what fresh air smells like—this isn’t home!  A rainy day like today is a blessed relief and a reminder that yes, I am still at home and things are all right in the world.  After getting home from work this afternoon, I just couldn’t help myself: I whipped up a hot mug of chai tea, rummaged around in my bedroom to locate my long-lost fuzzy slippers and pulled on my old sweatshirt.  No matter that it’s the middle of summer—I am going to take full advantage of the rainy-day comforts this weather brings while I have the opportunity.

Rain not only provides a feeling of comfort, but also a sense of identity.  What would Washington State be without the rain?  Certainly not the Evergreen State.  The natural beauty of the scenery that surrounds us owes its existence to our rainy weather, and this beauty is something that we all take pride in.  However, despite the impressive forests and bounty of lush green scenery that we get to enjoy due to our wet climate, Washington’s identity as a rainy state is often perceived negatively.  For instance, when meeting new people while traveling and vacationing in different regions, there is an inevitable exchange that will take place during the conversation: “Where are you from? Washington?” and then almost pityingly “Oh, it rains a lot there, doesn’t it?”  To which the Washingtonian will regretfully respond “Yes, it does”.  Perhaps it’s time to adjust our response to that question.  Rather than feigning an aversion to the rain, perhaps we Washingtonians should throw our chests our and proudly say “Yes, it does rain a lot.  And I LIKE it”. Because let’s face it: we all feel a little lost and out-of-sorts when the rain doesn’t make an appearance for weeks on end.  We do not really like having to water our lawns, or dig the box fans out of the attic, or put on sunscreen, or wear shorts that expose our blinding white legs, or forego taking our vitamin D supplement for fear of overdosing due to sun exposure.  We need the rain, and there is nothing wrong with that!  

So, join me in celebrating the return of the rain by drinking a hot beverage and wearing fuzzy slippers during the middle of summer, and open all of the windows in your house to welcome in that glorious rainy fresh air and the sound of raindrops softly pattering on the ground.  Because admit it, you’ve missed it!

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