The sun comes up in one minute, at 7:22 am, today. It sets at 4:26 pm, but odds are we won’t see it for any of those nine hours and six minutes, thanks to the (likely) thousands of feet of cloud cover above us. Granted, that cloud cover seems to be coming down as fast as it can, drenching everyone in the process.

On days like this, everyone on the bus steams and drips and tries to keep their dampness to themselves — at least a token gesture that’s appreciated, even if in practice it’s utterly futile. Little streams meander off every umbrella and down the floor.

On days like this, traffic snarls to a halt, an ocean of watery red lights reflecting off wet black tarmac and wet dark cars. Colors don’t exist beyond the well-lit confines of our bus; outside, through the foggy windows, we see red taillights, white headlights, and gray everything else.

On days like this, people who moved here from warmer, sunnier climes–pretty much everywhere that isn’t Alaska–start feeling depressed. They remember the California sunshine, so reliable even in November, or of the bright dazzle of sun glinting off snow, or the bursts of autumnal leaves backlit with glancing afternoon rays. They forget the misery of drought, the constant shoveling of snow, the endless raking of leaves. How can we live this way for another five months? they wonder.

What I think of is the glory of the Olympic Mountains, dark indigo and white in the distance, with water gray-blue below and the sky coldly blue above. I think of the evergreen trees coating the rolling Cascade foothills like a dark green blessing, hazing off into snow-capped peaks. I think of the silhouette of hillsides vanishing into mist. I think of the joy of Christmas lights twinkling through the dark and reflecting off of rain-wet roads, doubling the glitter.

I don’t think about all the wet, dark tomorrows. I think about the bursts of clean-washed beauty that come between the rains.

Yes, my heart sinks at my inevitable damp clothes, my soaked-through rain jacket, the need to stuff shoes with newspaper every night and hope they’ll dry before morning. But I love this place, and every day, rain or shine, I am thankful to live here.

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