Aug 4, 2014

Summer Affective Disorder a real thing. Before we made the move up to the northern reaches of Washington State, I mentioned it in jest a couple times. We kept hearing about how some people tend to get depressed during the wintertime due to the relative lack of daylight and consistent rain and cloud cover. Of course, I can't imagine ever tiring of such weather that others might consider "gloomy," but I suspected the summer months, renowned in the northwest for reliably abundant sunshine, might negatively affect me.

Well, that has certainly turned out to be the case. I'm afraid July and August have proven to be a fairly undesirable time to be up here in the Pacific Northwest. The 16 hours per day of uninterrupted sunshine and uncomfortable heat has really taken its toll on many levels. The constant sun for such an unreasonable length of time combined with the summer heat just ends up draining my life force, whether I'm working or trying to play. Of course, thousands of sun worshiping tourists from around the country would beg to differ. They love to flock up here during the hottest, sunniest time of the year, and flood the campgrounds and popular attractions with their RVs and various forms of expensive toys. I've discovered that this is the northwest's biggest flaw- the summertime is just too "nice," by most people's standards, so too many of them visit from afar this time of the year and think to themselves, "ah, this is just perfect, maybe we should move here." And at the very least, they just infest certain places to the extent that they are just no longer desirable places to visit at all, until the return of autumn.

But the one thing that saves most of the PNW from degenerating into another overpopulated, completely spoiled extension of California is the general climate. Most of the year, clouds are in great abundance, and showers are common. Winters tend to be particularly wet, with a barrage of storms smacking into the Washington coast from the west. Thus, Washington has a remarkably overblown reputation for being cold, wet, and dreary most of the year, which seems to be the perfect picture of misery if you're a typical sun loving norm. Since most people are so prone to thinking in terms of black and white, they think, "uhhh, duhhh, clouds = rain. No sun, rain all the time." So not only does the healthy amount of rainfall and frequent cloud cover keep western Washington green, lush, and beautiful, it also discourages people from moving here and developers from coming in and ruining everything to the extent that they would in "sunshine states."

When we visited western Washington during March and October of previous years, I really fell for its beauty, and very pleasant climate. Of course, that was in the spring and fall, where it rarely felt too cold and certainly never too hot. The variability of the weather from day to day, and even thoughout a single day, reminded me greatly of my upbringing in Hawaii, where the weather is always changing. That's what I'm used to, and that's what I love. While roaming about the Seattle area, I was always impressed by all the cloud formations we saw looming over the mountain ranges or out towards the islands at sea. I consider the presence of cloudscapes a definitive element of this place's character and an integral part of its beauty. When they are completely absent, allowing the relentless summer sun to beat down mercilessly all day long, the atmosphere of magic and mystery really fades from the picture, replaced by a headache from all the blinding light and nausea from the heat. If I had first visited this place in the middle of August, I probably never would have fallen in love in the first place. Perhaps it's best I hadn't.

Of course, when I try to explain any of that to average humans, it goes right over their simple little heads. Still, I'm sure I'm not alone in this feeling. I'm sure there are many other northwesterners nearby hiding in their dark dens as well, silently praying for summertime to come to an abrupt end so they may feel at home again. I'm waiting for all the noisome, boisterous crowds to disperse as the clouds make their triumphant return, so I may comfortably don my usual jeans and light jacket attire and enjoy the mostly secluded outdoors again, wholeheartedly welcoming the return of the Pacific Northwest I actually know and love. The dim, damp, dreary Kingdom of Twilight. Oh, fuck yes.

Make no mistake, I'm fully aware that August is far worse in most other parts of the country, in terms of heat, humidity, and generally miserable conditions. Just gives me even more reason to loathe it. Fuck August.

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