there’s no time to lose.
Today spring came to Seattle.
We all spent the month of March (and the previous months from September onward) hunkered down, praying to simply survive the almost 8″ of rain that fell… and fell… and fell. The average temperature remained stubbornly a couple degrees below normal. It was, in a word, miserable, and I think everybody living here felt kind of miserable most of the month. I, at least, found it difficult to get much done; I only wanted to curl up under a blanket with a cup of something hot.
However, weather in April looks much more optimistic so far. Today, for example, we woke up to clear, sunny skies. The temperature accelerated past 60°, a benchmark we’ve hardly even approached since last fall. Deborah and I had planned to get together for a walk, and she also brought her gardening supplies. So we walked to the paint store in Woodinville and picked out some paint chips for the boy’s room. Then we spent a couple hours sprucing up the front yard, following the sun. It felt so good to spend time in those long-absent warm, golden rays, even pulling weeds. I wore a T-shirt and capri-length pants and left all the house windows open.
In the afternoon, sun still shining, I rode my bike to REI to use up our soon-to-expire 20% off coupon. I wanted to find another pair of pants with a stretchy waist, which I hope will last me at least for a while. I can’t imagine any normal pants will still fit me in August, but I’m darn well going to keep wearing as many of my normal clothes as long as I can. My goal is to buy as few actual maternity clothes as possible. I’m aided in this goal by the fact that in recent years wearing stretchy clothes that show the pregnant belly has become much more socially acceptable, as opposed to having to wear lots of flowing, belly-hiding maternity-specific clothes like women did when I was born.
Riding to REI, I noticed something amazing: People looked happy. At a stoplight, I had a very cheerful conversation with a postman who had his window wide open (they drive on the opposite side, so he was close to me). On the 520 trail, I had at least three upbeat exchanges, mainly about the weather, with other trail users, and saw numerous business-attired men walking along smiling. In Redmond, a girl talking on her cell phone while sitting on a bench paused to tell me how much she liked my pink bike. The examples could continue.
Why is this? In places where sunny days are normal, I don’t think people are happier on average. They certainly don’t seem to smile more, or exhibit greater friendliness than people do in Seattle. Riding along, I decided people are happier because of our rain. It’s not a radical conclusion, but there it is. We need all the rain to keep Washington gorgeously green… and maybe we need to viscerally appreciate the loveliness of a spring day, too. You can’t appreciate beauty without ugliness, satiation without hunger, music without discord, sun without clouds.
Thus, even more than in other places, when spring comes to Seattle, we celebrate it. We take half-days off work to spend time outside. We go for walks at lunch time. We sit in sunny spots. We take endless pictures of the astonishing snow-capped mountains, of fresh green leaves stretching out in the warmth, of sunlight shining through flowering cherry trees’ blossoms. We congregate on trails and sidewalks, greet neighbors and strangers with animation, and generally bask in a way foreign to denizens of sunnier climes. And it’s all thanks to the dark and drizzle.