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Posts Tagged ‘seattle weather’

Cypress RainSeattle.

It is late October, early November, when Dawn puts on her grey scarf and each day arrives in soft focus, born in muffled softness.

The edge of the world is only a stone’s throw away. Green needles and rusted leaves alike gleam in the moisture-laden air.

Above, southbound geese call with muted trumpets, navigating the blanketed skies, seeking grey waters beneath grey fogbanks.

All is cotton and wool, steely but soft, quiet and chilled, both bright and dim.

I walk dew-slick streets, and feel that here, surrounded by these layers of mist, magic is possible.

k

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The weather has turned cold here in Seattle. Nothing like what most of the nation is experiencing, to be sure, but cold nonetheless. The leaves that haven’t fallen are withered and frostbitten on their stems, and the remnants of Autumn’s glory now lie in patches of brown detritus scattered across the gardens.

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WAOn clear, cold afternoons, when the sky is a robin’s egg blue and the sun has just melted the frost off the shaggy lawns, I hear the machinery of modern yard maintenance fire up. Mowers, blowers, strimmers, and edgers set up a whirring, sputtering rumble that blankets the neighborhood as homeowners take advantage of a rainless November day.

For myself, I prefer to use manual tools when possible. The lawnmower, the strimmer, these I keep and use, but on bright autumn days I reach instead for the rake, the broom, and the shovel to tend my garden. I spend so much of my day working nothing but my mind–analyzing systems, cross-checking code, diagramming solutions, navigating interoffice politics–that the thought of surrounding myself with machinery and noise is abhorrent.

Before I step outside, I bundle up with scarf and gloves and quilted overshirt, but soon, as I warm to my task, these layers drop away. It takes me longer to tidy my garden than it does my more mechanized neighbors–yesterday, after a couple hours’ work, I only cleared out the patio and lower section of the back garden–but it’s a quieter time, and that’s what I want.

Peace. Serenity. Take in a clean, cold lungful of air and let it out in a frosty breath.

Repeat.

k

Typewriter

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Conifer RainAutumn’s first storm has hit Seattle, and my commute is packed with sounds not heard since spring.

Sheets of rain hiss through parchment leaves.
Fat drops splat as they crater sidewalk puddles.
Eaves and downspouts plather their runoff into waiting pools.
Tire treads sizzle down dawn’s slick streets.
Jacket fronts zip.
Gore-tex and oilcloth rustle and wheeze.
Wind gusts flubble against hat brims and upturned collars.
People chatter light-heartedly, pleased–despite their complaints–to see the rain return.

The sun’s light slowly soaks through the grey, but people don’t hurry. There is no rain-born hustle-bustle in Seattle. We don’t dodge and weave, fair-weather commandos rushing from awning to doorway for protection from the elements. We don’t hold newspapers over our heads. The rain doesn’t surprise us, doesn’t discommode us. We walk as we always do, taking the rain on our heads today just as we took the sun in summer. Occasionally, I see a face upturned to the falling weather, a smile lifted toward our ceiling of drear.

Autumn’s first storm has hit Seattle, washing us clean.

k

Sumac Autumn

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Scarlet CrocosmiaMy eyes brightened when I saw the forecast: showers beginning Friday, continuing through Saturday and Sunday, with sunshine returning Monday morning.

I love drippy weekends. Even though they cut into my convertible drive-time, even though they make my rosebuds ball up and rot, even though they make my friends unhappy because their plans for beach-days or BBQs or mountain drives or afternoon walks get washed out, despite this I still love drippy, rainy, dreary weekends.

Rainy weekends mean I don’t have to mow the lawn.

Rainy weekends mean I don’t feel guilty about not washing the car.

Rainy weekends mean I can let my glass of red wine breathe for a bit while I sit on the deck overlooking the greenery, smelling the fresh, moist air, listening to the birds at the feeder and the drip, drip, drip of the water falling from the trees.

Rainy weekends mean bundled up mornings with warm coffee and a perhaps shot of brandy.

Rainy weekends mean spending time with those closest to me.

Rainy weekends mean quiet.

And I like that all to pieces.

k

Cypress Rain

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When it comes to snow, Seattle is conflicted.

We love it. We hate it.

And tomorrow, we’re gonna get it, or so says Cliff Mass, a scholar of weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Snow in Seattle is rare and unpredictable. It’s also a huge pain in the ass, precisely because it is so rare and unpredictable. We don’t have “snow storms” in Seattle; we have “snow events.” Incoming storms are always rain storms that freeze up on arrival. Conditions have to be just so before the white stuff falls, and tomorrow, it looks like a sure thing.

When snow does fall, Seattle takes on a different character. People look up more. Spirits lift. I see more smiles on the faces I pass on the street. Old buildings look newer and new buildings look older, as if the entire city has shifted to some mid-20th century convergence point. New sounds fill the streets–crunching footsteps, creaking tires–while other sounds are muffled.

Snow in Seattle is an excuse. Schools open late or close down for the duration. People “work from home” or head home early “to beat the traffic.” Metro buses chain up, giving us the modern equivalent to sleigh bells as they jangle along their routes. News teams put on their yellow weather jackets and stand on street corners to report, or drive around in cars with dash-cams to show us that yes, indeed, snow is falling in Seattle.

We love it!

Until we don’t.

Snow in Seattle is not all Currier and Ives. We have hills–big hills–and it doesn’t take much snow to make some of them impassable. One favorite spot for news crews is at the foot of Queen Anne Hill looking up the counterbalance, where the snow creates a game of bumper cars on an inclined plane for any driver so foolish as to venture on the slick hillside. Our snowplows, such as they are, only hit the arterials, leaving side streets covered in snow and ice. In serious events, freeway shoulders are littered with vehicles wounded or abandoned. 

By and large, the only Seattleites who drive in the snow are those who don’t know how. Those who do know how to drive in the snow know that the real danger is not the snow. It’s the idiots in 4WD SUVs who are going too fast (because they have 4WD), and so we stay off the roads and let the idiots Darwin it out on the unplowed streets.

Luckily, snow in Seattle is usually short-lived. Whatever falls overnight has melted off the roadways by noon and is gone by the next morning. Sure, it might screw up a commute or two, might mess with your schedule as you deal with the kids for an extra 2 hours before their school’s late start, but overall, it’s nice, polite, and beautiful while it lasts.

Tomorrow will be one of those days (or so says Cliff).

I’m lucky. I work from home on Fridays, and tomorrow I’m logging off early to start a super-long holiday weekend. If the snow lasts a bit, I’ll be able to go out for a drive in the white-clad neighborhoods. Perhaps I’ll stop, get out, take a few crunching steps in the pristine snow, smile at a stranger and wish them happy holidays.

Maybe it’ll be you.

I wish you all a pleasant holiday week, and a safe and happy new year.

k

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EarthBoxesSeattle has rubbish weather for vegetable gardening. It’s grey, it rains frequently, and our sunshine quotient slacks off in spring and autumn. I’m doubly unlucky in that, despite the great feng shui of my house, our little plot of land is not suited to farming, urban or otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my back garden. Mature trees, deep shade, covered deck off the second level of the house, it’s like a treehouse for grownups. But it’s not suited for vegetable gardening. I’ve also finally put the front gardens into shape, and now that Three Trunks has been taken down, the roses, the lavender, and other flowers are loving the extra sunlight.

So, where to plant a vegetable garden?

I do have this little triangular slice of land on the house’s north side, but the soil is just plain awful. Our cul-de-sac is situated on what used to be a sloping hillside. The developers took all the topsoil from our side of the street and dumped it all on the opposite side of the street to create a wide, level space to build houses. Unfortunately, this left our front garden with no topsoil. Dig down two inches (literally, two inches) past the struggling sod, and you’ll find hard-pan: a compacted, nearly concretized layer of diatomaceous soil that takes no water and allows no roots.

Solution? Raised bed gardening. Sure, but that’s one hell of a lot of work, especially if either my talents or the bit of land prove unsuitable to the task.

Solution? EarthBoxes. (more…)

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ChariotOfFireToday, the buzz in Seattle is not:

  • The NBA kibosh on moving the Sac’to Kings to Seattle
  • The Anarchists arriving for their annual May Day (aka Loot&Pillage Day) festivities
  • The opening of Boating Season

Today, the buzz in Seattle is the possibility of a warm, sunny weekend in Spring.

Yes, the news is That Big.

(more…)

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