"Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part." ~ Hermann Broch
I came across this quote and it got me thinking about the ways in which the place we call home - the landscape and environment - shape our thoughts, actions, and even language.
If you live by the sea, you think sea thoughts. Those tides and waves, the fog and the wind are embedded into your very thought patterns and can influence the way you think, act, and carry out your day. Those deep and heaving waters provide a deep sense of place, a singular spot on earth that is uniquely home.
What kind of thoughts do we think here in inland western Washington? Do we think tree thoughts, being surrounded as we are by trees growing thick and green around our homes, with forests carpeting the rolling hills? Do we think mountain thoughts, seeing Rainier, Baker, St. Helens, the Cascades and the Olympics on our respective horizons? We look toward Rainier on a clear sunny day and say the mountain is out.
If I had to decide, I'd say we think rain thoughts. Rain isn't necessarily a feature of the landscape, but it certainly shapes the landscape here in western Washington, and shapes our thoughts and actions as well. Rain is a dominant natural feature here. It determines how we dress, how early we leave for work to avoid rain-induced traffic jams, what activities we plan for our day. When we plan outdoor events such as weddings, we plan them during the drier months, or simply select a date on the calendar and cross our fingers for clear skies as the day approaches, keeping a wary eye on the forecast. Even a sunny day isn't celebrated so much for its sunshine as it is for the absence of rain.
When we look at the landscape as a whole, we see rain. We see the rain-watered forests, the rain-fed rivers, the rocky mountain peaks blanketed white with rain in its frozen form. We drink rain that fell in the mountains and ran down rocky hillsides to fill the reservoirs that supply water to our homes. We even see rain in our state's nickname, in our very identity as the Evergreen State. If not for rain, our trees would not be ever green.
We have at least a half-dozen words to describe rain: drizzle, mist, sprinkles, showers, downpour, rain. And we know the precise type of rain described by each one.
Rain is everywhere - in our language, on our calendar, in our drinking glasses, in the landscape that makes this place uniquely home. Perhaps we could say that those of us who live in western Washington can hardly form a single thought of which rain is not a part - in both the poetic and literal sense!
Some cooling thoughts to ponder during this hot June weather!
What do you think? Feel free to share the thoughts from the place you call home!