Special to The Times
Today: Transcending the saturation point
When you live in Seattle, you come to appreciate the rain. In a weird way, the rain gives you freedom. Freedom to explore things you wouldn’t do if the day were sunny. You can go to movies, read a book, edit a film, cook a meal. The interior life flourishes. Maybe because half the days are rainy here, you hate to waste a nice day with something as trivial as work. But when it is raining, you can look outside and feel safer in a meeting, or writing, or working on the computer.
Seattle feels like an incubator for creativity. The silent mist. The hesitant wind. It’s funny — so much of popular culture portrays the Northwest as mysterious or frightening, bathed with a dark lens, which leads to deviation and dismay. The reality is so different. The “Big Dark,” as Bill Nye once told me the season from November through March is called, actually stimulates creativity and conversation. Projects pick up pace. People become more purposeful. Dissipation is put away for another season.
As Provence needs sunlight, Seattle needs rain. Where other locales root out moss, cut down forests, torture slugs, we celebrate them. There are simply too many of them for us to win the battle, so we throw our hands up and surrender. We create art for art’s sake — because no one in the arts in Seattle is getting rich or famous. Artists bent on those rewards head off to New York or L.A. Only creators for creativity’s sake remain here.
We watch movies, but hold them to a higher standard. We read books, but disdain recycled plots, formulaic characters. We seek restaurants that are different and challenging — after all, during the rainy time, we will frequent them often.
And, of course, our obsession with coffee has changed the culture of the nation, and, now, the world. Our children happily don boots (most have many pairs) and slosh through puddles and mud. They are oblivious to conditions that would drive others indoors for the season.
So, fall is here again. Wet, chilly, wonderful fall. Our leaves change, but not as brightly as others. Our weather cools, but not as much as others. We change, too — our focus turns inward, the interior lights glisten, and a strange optimism pervades. This will be the year to write the novel, ship the product, launch the company. By Christmas, the optimism will be tempered by reality. By February, it will be gone, and the welcome mist will have become a dreary, repetitive burden that clogs our gutters and washes away color. We will need to escape — to the mountains to ski, to southern climes to dry out, even to the islands, where endless water is expected.
But not now. Not today. Today we will watch the mists gather; we will fill our mug of coffee; we will find our good book. We will smile from the window as the children stomp in the puddles outside. And we will secretly embrace our guilty love of the dark side of Seattle.