It’s late August. I’m on vacation at the Washington coast. The sun is out and it’s a beautiful day at a place that historically doesn’t sport too many beautiful days, even in summer. In spite of this I’m sitting in the shade of a large shrub where I can’t even see the ocean. I am quite comfortable here, thank you.
As a native Washingtonian who usually relishes the few sunny days we get every year I should be reveling in this weather. It’s always been my contention that Seattleites are especially appreciative of sunny days because we experience so few of them. They’re special. A bright day makes our trees more green, our water more blue. But this year I’m not savoring the sun. I'm not enjoying my lightly sunburned legs and the feeling of radiant warmth soaking down to my bones.
The sun? I’m over it. Too many hot, sunny days in the last few months have rendered me unappreciative of cloudless skies. Like that eternally optimistic acquaintance whose sunny disposition eventually rides your last nerve so has this hot, dry weather overstayed its welcome with me. Let’s get real. Let’s get misty.
I long for the radiant warmth of the wood stove, not the sun. I have an itch for my wool sweaters. I’m sure they miss me as I miss them. It’s been too long.
This summer has been the hottest our state has seen since people started keeping records. We are the Evergreen State no more. Everything is brown. Brown grass, brown shrubs, brown native vegetation. The rhodies need water, for heaven’s sake. Young trees are dead on the side of the highway, ready kindling for any stray cigarette. The Olympics have been free of snow since June. And I won't even get into how the lack of snow pack will affect the salmon for years to come.
The garden requires more attention than I like to give. Some vegetables we water on a drip irrigation system, some are on their own. This usually works out fine. This year, however, the crops that are on their own aren’t faring so well. And do I want to do a bunch of extra watering in this heat? No thank you. I'm a lazy gardener, remember? (If not, see post from 10/13). My gardening style is much like my parenting style: benign neglect. Works for the kids. Not so much for the garden.
Speaking of brown, Eastern Washington only wishes it were brown. Instead, it’s glowing orange with the most viscous wildfires the state has ever seen, grey with ash and choking smoke that’s blowing west to Puget Sound, and black with the charred remains of houses, forests and lives. The only moisture falling in that part of the state is from the eyes of those who have lost everything, including loved ones who died fighting the inferno.
So you see, I’m done with all of it, as I’m sure a lot of people are. I'm done with dust and shorts and sweating and fires and a landscape that doesn't look or feel like my home. So yes, I’m very happy to sit here in the shade at the beach, thank you very much. Hey! The sun ducked behind a cloud and the wind kicked up. What’s that on my skin? Goosebumps? Oh, my little pimples of poultry, how I’ve missed you! Long time no see!