“I’m ready to forgive Seattle,” said our friend Bethany yesterday as we sat at the Old Spaghetti Factory awaiting our salads. She and her husband Jeremy and their kids and we and ours sat at a big dark wooden table looking out the large, wavy-glassed warehouse windowpanes to the waterfront, where gambolled the late afternoon light of a truly warm and sunny afternoon.

“One sunny day and everyone goes soft,” was my retort. I don’t think it’s a great idea to cast off well-simmered resentments against the weather gods just because the sun finally shows up in June late for tea. The wind had been up earlier in the day while I was out at lunchtime taking pictures of old buildings, and I had felt a little bite in it. As a Seattle resident (and native) who has endured yet another dare-I-say crappy spring, I didn’t want to have to feel grateful for the small dividend of a couple hours with my jacket off.

So bright all of a sudden, our eyes can't take it. Old Spaghetti Factory (and statue buttocks) in background.

But I had to admit, as we took a quick after-dinner walk across the street into the Seattle Art Museum’s park and meandered through the native plants grove and on overtop of the train tracks to the waterfront, that it was suddenly hard to remember what the chill felt like. We northwesterners have this shutoff valve in our memories that is activated by sunlight and has the effect of preventing us from remembering all the sodden weather as soon as warmer temperatures arrive. It makes a little clicking sound, too, and you can actually hear it in other people’s heads as you walk around, so that you can tell the natives and long-time residents from those freshly asylumed from more sensible climes.

And this morning, just now, I went outside early in my socks — I don’t know, its just a habit that I put socks on when I get up because usually the floor is so damned cold around here — to water some plants that I had moved last weekend — just to save them, mind you, not because I’m actually attempting to garden or anything — and I thought, “good thing I’m giving these guys a drink now, because it’s going to be hot today and with the recent trauma to their roots they’ll still be in shock and need a lot of water until the shadows reach them at noon.”

Note: this photo is a reenactment for blogging purposes. Yes, I'm that kind of blogger.

And in saying that to myself, I actually did experience gratitude. As the water drops fanned out among the leaves of my accepting, non-judging little deciduous azaleas and Angela’s much-abused but never-grumbling Deutzia, I felt myself go soft. Yes, thought I. I too was ready to forgive.

I heard the clicking sound.

 “What? Isn’t it always this nice here along the shores of Puget Sound?” 

"Thank you," they said. "We're truly grateful."


13 Responses to “Soft”

  1. 1 Louis June 4, 2011 at 10:05


    So true. Just as we are on the verge of cracking under the weight of those heavily saturated gray clouds, the sun makes an appearance, and all is forgiven.

  2. 3 marni June 5, 2011 at 00:03

    Having not experienced it myself, I’m just parroting what others have said: it’s like childbirth, our PNW weather. Painful, excruciating, you have to endure it for WAY too long without drugs, makes you want to sob in agony…but then suddenly, there is a cease and desist, a rapturous joy. The clouds part, the sun shines, and you behold this wondrous thing you thought you’d never see. The delight overcomes memory and all you can think of is this thing in front of you, dazzling you, right now. All is forgiven. May it last forever….or at least until the weekend is over. I sat through a crappy Mariners game today but I didn’t care- I was outside, dry, warm, actually “glowing” a bit at times. Basically, for a Seattlite, heaven on earth!

    • 4 Matt June 6, 2011 at 08:01

      I can’t speak to childbirth, obviously, but I think I could shift your simile just sideways a bit and say that I agree it’s a lot like parenting. Sorry about the Ms performance. I’ve seen you when you’re glowing. It’s a good look for you.

  3. 5 kiwidutch June 5, 2011 at 09:46

    LOL sounds like you are describing a Dutch spring too, *except* that we have had unseasonably good weather for almost three months now, wow! that’s a shock! (I mean it’s a good shock but I keep waiting for it to end and for someone to apologise and say: “normal transmission to be resumed as soon as possible” LOL)
    I mean today was cool but yesterday we dined with friend at home with the French doors to the balcony open and no one was at all cold. I didn’t even look at a jesery as I got dressed in the morning… or socks.
    And yes, selective memory of the winter months is a necessary evil for human-kind survival I think.

    • 6 Matt June 6, 2011 at 08:02

      It is a dream of mine to sit at table with French doors open and not be at all cold. I’m glad SOMEbody got some unseasonably good weather this past season.

  4. 7 Angela June 5, 2011 at 20:14

    Yes, you truly have gone soft, my dear sweet husband, and that’s how I love you best. Click. And I can’t believe you posted that picture of your feet in those socks!

  5. 8 Louis June 6, 2011 at 01:31

    Standing outside in those particular type of socks is a quintessential Pacific Northwest image, me thinks. Either that, or wearing sandals with those socks..

    • 9 Matt June 6, 2011 at 08:05

      @Angela…what he said. Actually, I can’t believe I posted that first picture of me needing a haircut so badly and squinting.

    • 10 Angela June 6, 2011 at 16:33

      That used to send me into severe culture shock when I first moved here from St. Louis, where people dress nicely when they go out. Now I’ve acclimated, but seriously, just socks? At least put on some sandals!

  6. 11 Kip June 8, 2011 at 13:22

    I must say, even if a native spends somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years outside the Seattle area, the click doesn’t go away, especially when the spring in the native’s new location (can you still refer to the location as “new” when it’s been 20 years?) is very similar to a Seattle spring. I have heard the click, and it was welcome. I do miss the first click in Seattle though, it’s a much better click.

    • 12 Matt June 8, 2011 at 21:47

      Sorry to hear you’ve had the same kind of spring over there across the mountains as we’ve had here. I always think of Boise as sunny. Obviously that means I have not visited enough, something we will remedy in the coming years. Yes, I think at (y)our age, 20 years ago can be regarded as recent, because two decades just ain’t that big a deal anymore. :D.

  1. 1 Aqua urbana – Part I « Just Wondering Trackback on June 24, 2011 at 21:41

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