Summer in the Pacific Northwest comes on slowly at best. Oregonians love to tease newcomers that summer doesn’t start until at least July 5th. It’s around that time that the steady drizzle of the nine month long rainy season doesn’t just slow down: it stops as if someone above turned off a switch. The low hanging, gray bands of cloud disperse to some other continent (probably just to the coast). You suddenly realize that you have neighbors and that their porches aren’t just for storing wet boots and lawn chairs. You wonder why you haven’t seen them for so long, then you remember that it’s been the rainy season and that hardly anyone, besides you, continues with their outdoor adventures, despite the weather.
The first few days of summer are glorious. Long warm, but seldom hot, dry days are greeted by crisp cool nights. You start to think you could get used to this kind of weather. There is something novel and inspiring about wearing shorts and sandals all day, never thinking about the next time your feet will get wet (unless it is to launch a boat or water the garden). Aside from the relentless sun, summer is starting to look like a good thing. You think about asking your wife if she’ll consent to move to San Diego (then you think better of it, since you asked this last summer and were happy to escape with your head).
It is coming close to eight thirty in the evening and you’re outside reading a book. Unlike the east coast, it’s not muggy and there generally aren’t swarms of bugs trying to eat you for dessert. Your children (you suddenly remember you have some) are off riding bikes around the neighborhood (probably to the neighborhood candy store where they will buy taffy that turns their tongues blue).
Aside from a few days where you complain that it is too hot and that the near-continuous sunny weather lacks the drama of your favorite seasons, you start to enjoy it (even though during the rest of the year you tell people the temperature should never exceed 70 degrees).
Then one day, you feel a little chill in the air and you suddenly realize that summer is going to end. That maybe you’ve missed your chance to go on one more dry weather adventure, that somehow you’ve squandered those last magical, sweater-free days. Is it over, you wonder. Is the end of adventure season done, or is it really just beginning?
(I’m off on a rowing trip from Seattle to Port Townsend’s wooden boat festival. I’ll contemplate the answer on my way. See you in a week or two!)