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Slightly Retired

"I like the rain. I'm not looking forward to the approaching dry months and sun. I may be alone on that. Although I have been heard local residents remarking during the June rains, It's okay, we need the rain.I get depressed when it stops raining. I find the summer sun stressful--I have to squint, I get a headache, I get too hot, my skin burns. I yearn for the cloudy, drizzly weather - it's soothing. Rain suits me and so do the the many sensuous shades of Northwest gray. Here on our island we have all types of rain. There is drizzle, mist, showers, an occasional cloudburst, rarely a thunderstorm. The weatherman's forecast is for intermittent rains, or light, moderate, heavy rains, or occasional showers. Rain is almost infinite in its variety. There's good rain and acid rain. It can rain cats and dogs or frogs. We can cry in it and sing in it and dance in it. There can be a cold rain, summer rain, hard rain, no rain. There's rain in Spain, September and My Heart. There's a Rainy Day and Rainy Day Blues. There's rain in the street gutters with kids shouting and splashing and floating sticks as boats.Our experiences with rain are countless. Earlier this month I had a perfect rain experience. On a Saturday afternoon when the rain came down hard, I was with a small group gathered in a one-story building. We were lying on the floor listening to the drops pound and dance on the roof while good CD music played. The building had no rain gutters so by turning my head slightly to look out any of the many windows, I could watch the rain cascading in rivulets and waterfalls off the roof, past the windows and melting into the ground. A fine opportunity.Thunderstorms can be extremely impressive, even downright frightening. Two of them stand out in my memory. One occurred while driving across the country, in the Midwest, along the Platte River flatlands. It was summer, in the late afternoon, but looked more like dusk from the black steadily lowering clouds. Drops began hitting the windshield like a shower of small stones and then increased into an avalanche. I was sure the windows would break. The lightning kept pace with the rain, becoming one long constant arc of blazing light accompanied by ominous dark, crashing thunder. All traffic stopped. We sat shaking in our cars. The other frightening thunderstorm took place in Glacier National Park, in a campground by St. Mary's Lake, surrounded by mountains. It was late spring, but in Glacier Park, it felt like early spring. The small tent-camping group consisted of three families and numerous young children. It was cold, we went to bed early, and not long after, the first rumbles of thunder began. For an hour, the gods threw bolts of lightning back and forth, directly over our tents, from one mountain to another. They were angry. They set the sky on fire and poured buckets of hailstones everywhere to put it out. They screamed, shouted and bellowed at each other. Their breath sent shock waves of wind against the tiny tents. It ended finally, they all do. We crawled out from under collapsed tents and carried crying children to our cars for warmth and solace. It's possible Northwest rain has been miscalculated by residents and the rest of the world. I've seen a whole day of rain here on Whidbey with the ground barely getting damp. An inch of rain sends our TV weathermen into a frenzy. Compared to seaside tropics or the Indian Ocean countries, where rain is measured by the hundreds of inches, the Northwest is miserly. Even other places in the country do better than the Northwest--the Northeast, Florida, Missouri, Maryland, New York.However, Seattle and Puget Sound have unique rain patterns. The Olympic Mountains get four times as much rain on the west side as the east. But then there's Sequim, a desert oasis. Capitol Hill gets more rain than downtown Seattle. The familiar convergent zone, namely the northern suburbs, receives twice as much rain as downtown Seattle.South Whidbey gets more rain than north Whidbey, and the Greenbank plateau seems to catch more than either. However, we can safely say, the Northwest rain usually tippytoes around in ballet slippers, not combat boots. We've laid claim to rain as our defining characteristic in the Northwest; it is responsible for our sweet temperament, though boring, and even our clothing. After all, when the world needs rain gear, it comes to REI or Eddie Bauer.The secret of the Northwest rain is not the amount, it's the persistence, the moxie. It's like the friend, relative or adult child who shows up on the doorstep to stay for the night, remains for the weekend, the week, the month, and then settles in to stay. That's okay, I like the rain. "

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