Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Denial (a non-food entry)

I live within spitting distance of Seattle. Most people have an image of Seattle as being rainy and cold most of the year. That’s not entirely true. It does rain quite a bit in the winter, and it can be quite chilly, but I find it interesting that a 65 degree day here feels warmer than a 65 degree day where I came from back East did. However, there is one thing I don’t understand.

Why people in Seattle spend a good part of the year dressed like we live in Florida.

In late February and March, when it really is quite rainy, and in some cases fairly chilly, I see people in shorts and flip flops. Not just kids either. Kids, of course, are notorious for wearing weather-inappropriate clothing just because it looks “cool.” I’m talking about adults. Adults who should know better. I don't remember this kind of flauting of the actual weather conditions back East.

Today, for instance, the temperature is 53 degrees (and might go as high as 55 or 56), and it’s what I would describe as partly cloudy—a little sun here and there, but mostly cloud cover. Although, as I say, this feels warmer than it did where I came from, it’s still not tropical weather, by any means. Yet in my office today there are two women wearing open toed slip ons, and I rode to work this morning with one friend who was wearing shorts.

What gives?

By late June, it will be warm enough for open toed shoes and shorts. In fact, in July and August, it really gets quite hot here, and it barely rains all summer long. In September they have to issue “no burn” orders so that people don’t burn yard waste and risk setting huge tracts of national forest on fire.

But that’s June, July, and August. Right now it’s May, and it’s kind of on the chilly side. Yet I see dozens of people who’ve broken out their summer wardrobes. Women in light sundresses and sandals. Men in shorts and sandals. I can’t imagine they’re not freezing, but at least they don’t complain.

Along with this total denial that we actually have long, fairly cool springs, come a few other facts that people in this part of the world refuse to accept.

First is that there are bugs here. Many houses have no screens on their windows because people seem to refuse to admit the fact that there are, in fact, flying insects here that get into your house and are annoying. There are all kinds of yicky little flying things, including the world’s laziest mosquitoes. These things land on you, and if you notice them, you can easily smack them into oblivion. Where I came from, mosquitoes were zippy buggers that could dart away before you even had your hand raised. People seem unable to accept that we actually have flying insects, so almost no one has any screens. I lived in a house that had no screens and almost lost my mind because it was impossible to open the windows when it was hot.

Which brings me to my second point of denial: that while it doesn’t rain all the time, it also never gets very hot here. Certainly not hot enough to need air conditioning. That’s bunk. It never gets to 100, or even to 95 very often, and the humidity is nothing compared to what it was where I came from, but it can get pretty warm in the summer, and when it does, you need air conditioning. You may only use it for three or four weeks a year, but having it makes the difference between being comfortable and being miserable.

My new house will have both screens and air conditioning. And if you come to visit in February, you won’t find me dressed for a 4th of July barbeque. I can’t say the same for my fellow Seattelites, but their attire generally provides some interesting food for thought about how cold they must be, and just what they were thinking when they picked that outfit. It helps to pass the time on the way to work.

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