October all year round

Today was Labor Day, the last holiday of American summer, and the weather was perfect in Seattle. I enjoyed a long walk along the waterfront of West Seattle, looking across Elliott Bay to downtown Seattle. Although there were a few masks in sight, you could almost imagine that there had never been a pandemic and that this was a normal holiday.

Many years ago, I worked at a gift shop in Pioneer Square. And on Labor Day, the crowds would be thick everywhere you went. Long lines for coffee and takeout food. Underground Tour participants taking up all the space at intersections. And lots of people milling about in our store. And then if the Mariners were playing, there was the baseball crowd on top of that. It was always utter mayhem!

Looking across to the Smith Tower, I could imagine that same mayhem today. Perhaps it really is different now. But I was glad to not have to be over there anyway. The place I worked at still exists, and it was hard enough in those days to get customers to cooperate with our request that food and drinks not be brought into the store. It is amazing how many people get quite emotionally unhinged when told they can not do something. I would hate to have to be policing masks. Although Seattle is operating under minimal restrictions, indoor mask mandates were reinstated a couple of weeks ago.

Labor Day ushers in my favorite time of year. I make no secret of the fact that I really do not care for summer. It is not just the heat that bothers me, but the late sunsets. We can still get a heatwave in September, but it is much less likely AND the sun sets well before 8pm, so hot days cool off more quickly. So I go from my least favorite part of the year (June/July/August) to my favorite part of the year (Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec) in the space of a few days.

Then in January begins my second least favorite part of the year (January/February). But this has nothing to do with the weather. It is just that in my job, I get bombarded with really annoying reporting tasks as we close out the old year. AND, I have to gear up for filing incoming taxes, something I dread even though my taxes are fairly simple. My impaired executive function fails me frequently at this time. Anyway, I always try to get my taxes filed by the end of February. And then I have March, April and May to enjoy (sort of) before the dreaded summer returns.

I really wish it could be October all year round.

Gentle weather

My favorite shirt has detachable sleeves which allows me to wear it as a lightweight waistcoat in summer. But today I got to put the sleeves back on.

Usually by the end of July I have “summer fatigue” and reverse-SADS. It’s not just the heat that wears me down. It’s the bright sun and the long hours of daylight. But the record heatwave we went through in Seattle at the end of June obviously added to the stress. So the cloudy drizzly weather I woke up to was most welcome. And it looks like staying that way this afternoon with temps in the low 20s degC.

I moved to Seattle to find a kind of weather that is becoming elusive. It is a weather that is possibly the least harmful to people – but most frequently complained of.

It is gentle weather. Temperatures somewhere between 8-15 deg C with cloudy skies, light winds, and rain that can be kept off with a light rain jacket and hood.

Twenty years ago, this kind of weather could be found in any month of the year in Seattle. But summers are getting hotter, sunnier and drier — and are lasting longer. Meanwhile, autumn, winter and spring rains are showing up as intense deluges that no rain gear is a match for.

I have never understood why my preferred gentle weather goes so unappreciated. It is perfect for running, cycling, hiking and other outdoor activities. It is nice weather for gardening. It is even good weather for washing the car. But it is also nice weather to have when you are stuck inside working, studying, or just curled up on the couch feeling bad.

However, since that big heatwave of June, I have noticed more people saying that they will never again complain about cool, cloudy weather in summer. But I fear that gentle weather is becoming a thing of the past — and will not be fully appreciated until it is gone for ever.