the Tunnel

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One of the things I enjoy the most about living up here in the Pacific Northwest is the distinction of Seasons. Where I grew up we had two seasons- Snow and No Snow. Where I went to College we had one season- Sunny and 75 with the occasional bout of rain. Seattle has Four very obvious changes between each. Everyone who isn’t from Seattle has the preconceived notion that it rains here “all the time.” Granted, it rains here quite a bit. But comparatively, amount of precipitation on average is not much more than many parts of California (Bay Area, San Francisco), only they get all their rainfall at once during the winter months and ours is distributed more evenly over the course of the year. San Fran actually on average gets only about an inch less rain in the wettest Month (Jan) than Seattle does. Plus, Seattle doesn’t experience winter like the much of the Midwest does, where winter just comes and sits on you for 5 or so months out of the year and it is frigid and cold all the time. I have experienced the Weather her to be Dynamic. Part of the day it may rain, then the sun comes out in the afternoon, setting all the glittering water droplets on the leaves aglow. The clouds churn a deep grey blue across the sky, ominous over the steel water. Mist rises through the moist evergreens, lightly brushing rain across the land. The weather changes. Constantly. I think that is one distinct aspect of this area many people come to appreciate. 

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That and people here are actually prepared for weather. In my college town, it would rain for a few days and everyone would be in a horrible mood, lamenting over the downpours, but still wearing a hooded cotton sweatshirt, flip-flops and jeans that drag about 2″ of the hem on the ground so they are now soaking wet up to their calves. Regardless of if it rains 37.2 inches here and only 26.8 inches there in San Luis Obispo, those 10 or so inches don’t make that big of a difference if you are actually dressed properly. Here you can walk a handful of blocks without actually getting wet- one because you are likely wearing a waterproof coat and two because it is likely only lightly misting.

Sure, I complain. I think though that is common towards the end of the season, when we have just had enough and are ready for a change. Because we know that change is about to come. That makes the next season just so much sweeter. We appreciate it more. I have taken to calling it ‘The Tunnel’. I think about it much like Araiya would when we drive through a long tunnel: OH! Tunnel! We’re in a tunnel. Pink light, yellow light, pink light, yellow light. Hey, we’re in a tunnel. This is a cool tunnel. Hey, this is a long tunnel. We’re still in the tunnel. HEY! I can see the outside! There’s the end of the tunnel, here it comes… are we out yet? are we out yet? are we out yet? HEY WE’RE OUT OF THE TUNNEL!

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Same with the seasons. I lament the end of Summer, the slipping away of the sun and warmth. But then the leaves change, and I begin to soak it in, begin to think about sweaters and scarves and root vegetables and chicken noodle soup. I try to make the most of the season, plan activities and meals and our day around what is going on outside, taking advantage of both the dry days to get outside and taking advantage of the wet days to hit up the library or a coffee shop. Then it gets a bit old. The beautiful vibrant leaves which were so crisp and swooshy underfoot become muddled, wet and mashed into the sidewalk. It seems we will never win the battle of raking up all the leaves that are falling off our little maple tree in the front yard and the maple in our neighbor’s yard that is four times as big. It gets darker. and darker. But then something strange happens. It snows! The street is blanketed with white, the contrast between the bare, dark branches against the bright ambient clouds is starkly beautiful. I start thinking about skiing. I wax my skis. Twice. I make food, roasts, cookies. Wrap up excitement and joy into gifts. And the abounding appreciation of another season change comes again. One tunnel to the next.

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Right now I am loving Fall. Friday as we walked over to our friend’s house, after a day of grey drizzles, the sun broke through. It was beautiful. A low setting yellow, arching sun rays through gray moisture-laden puffy clouds, setting the yellows and reds on the trees just ablaze. The darkness of the shadows contrasting with the vibrancy of leaves lit by the fading sun, playing off of puddles and slick pavement, sparkling drops of rainwater dripping from the leaves and power lines, piles of confetti, hues from deep reds to bright yellows to happy oranges, scattered at our feet as we crunch through. Dynamic. Absolutely, wonderfully, Dynamic.

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~ by gdesign on November 3, 2008.

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