Northwest Summer Angst

The other day the sun came out and it stayed out and the temperature ventured into the upper 70’s. This after a fairly dreary July, which in recent years was usually the unofficial beginning of our real summer. In a spasm of optimism, I uncovered the patio furniture on the deck and basked in the sunshine and the warm summer breeze lazing over my thinning hairline.

Unlike the rest of the country, which, as I understand it, is roasting in 100+ degree heat, summer comes late to the northwest mainly because that monster of a body of water we call the Pacific, tends to cavalierly send cool ocean air our way, disregarding our desire for something other than cool cloudy blah.. Then, just because, a ridge of high pressure forms-I know this because the TV told me-and the cool air wanders north and heat and sunshine visit.

Many find this a good thing.

For about a week or two.

After that come the somewhat bizarre affectation I call “Northwest Summer Derangement“. This is a temperament that eases into the northwest soul, whether you were born here or are a transplant, such that you become unconsciously enamored with cool temperatures, showers, and a kind of closed in feeling that comes from low clouds, tall trees, and gloom.

I’m not the first to note this phenomena.

Like all such afflictions, NSD cleverly follows us like a shadow such that we forget it’s there. Early on, the warmth and the sunshine have the rather positive effect of allowing us to go outside, doff our outerwear, head to the waters of the Puget Sound, and frequent the parks where the ground is now dry and the conditions perfect for wondering why it can’t be like this year round.

It is at this point that NSD begins its insidious insinuation into our febrile brains. First, the temperature will move into the 80’s, and on occasion the 90’s, and God forbid, the end-of-times 100’s. This happened a decade ago and it was worse than an earthquake-I kid you not. Hell was not this hot.

This prompts a round of complaining that it is… too hot.

Next is the noted byproduct of high ridges of pressure: it does not rain and it gets dry, and can stay that way for weeks. Some are quite fond of this, but many are not. We become parched, thin, dehydrated. And in the past couple of years, this has been exacerbated by smoke from fires that are common in summer out west, but generally don’t waif our way. A kind of panic ensued that even resulted in calls for legislation, as if that would have any affect. This produces the bizarre fear that it will never rain again. Never mind that this has yet to happen in the nearly 40 years I’ve been here or in the millennia before that.

At some point, of course, the temperature falls as does the rain and summer is over. Our NSD abates and we return to our normal state of showers, clouds, occasional sun breaks, and gloom. All is as it should be.

We then complain that summer was too short.

©2019 David William Pearce

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