.Seattle or Bust — Finding Winter in the Heart of Spring

The trouble with living in California is that the winter rain lasts for two or three weeks and then we are gifted with an early, dry spring, which leads directly into fire season. Every single year. This would not be a problem … except that it is. Hugely. Sometimes a person needs to experience a real winter, with rain, just so they remember water exists. I am that person. And when I feel the need for actual moisture, I drive to Oakland, climb into a flying cigar, close my eyes and materialize in Seattle two hours later.

Ahhhh, Seattle. Where the sun rarely shines for 6 months of the year. They say Alaska makes for a rough winter, but I’ve been to Alaska and I’ve been to Seattle, and Seattle is also rough. I tried braving the Winter of ’17 in Seattle. That was a frozen, snowy winter, and however fun snow is to a Coastal Californian, it grows tiresome after about two days without skis, on pavement. Truth.

But snow is not the real problem. The cold is. I never knew how much I disliked the cold until I lived in it, day after day. Cold air has a smell; a sharp tang, like metal. I do not like that smell.

But the cold was not the real problem, either. The lack of sun was. Summer ended and the sun just … went away. When it did occasionally appear through the clouds—and they were storm clouds, not puffy white California clouds—I literally changed into a short-sleeved shirt and ran outside to embrace its precious rays until it disappeared 10 minutes later. I cannot describe how much the sight of the sun, and the feel of its light and warmth on my skin, meant to me. And that is how I learned, with certainty, that I am—and always will be—a California baby.

And yet, negatives aside, Seattle rocks. It has an incredible array of interesting neighborhoods, my favorites of which are artsy Fremont, with its Lenin statue, rocket and Dumpling Tzar, and post-industrial Georgetown, with its vintage stores and parking lot Trailer Park Mall. And Seattle is an economic powerhouse, something that never ceases to blow my mind. It’s like the Bay Area 2.1. It’s a majestic hub, is what it is; the jewel of the Northwest.

Oh, and it rains and rains and rains and rains up there.

All of which is to say, to anyone wanting a damp winter: Go to Seattle. I go for a week every December or January, and it cures me of my seasonal California regret. I enjoy the entire wet experience.

And the best thing about it? The California spring that greets me when I come home.

Mark Fernquest lives and works in West County. He imagines he is a writer.
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