Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pacific Northwest Autumn: Here Comes the Rain Again

And so the season turns. Our record-breaking dry spell here in the Pacific Northwest, which blessed us with unusually warm sunny days and cursed us with devastating forest fires, ended last week. 

The rainy season has arrived.

For the next 6 months+, our weather forecasts will be filled with clouds, rain, drizzle, maybe a little snow, a few sunbreaks, and likely even fewer sunny days. 

But we wouldn't live here if we didn't welcome the rain, right?  Many of us cheered its return, although I don't cheer the damp chill that comes with our rain.  But it keeps this land west of the Cascades a perfect environment for temperate rainforests draped in moss and abundant fungi.

While digging through some boxes in my basement recently, I found a short piece I'd written years ago for my high school newspaper after a similarly dry fall. So here's my voice from the distant past, as printed in the Reynolds High School Royal Lancer:

Let there be rain...

Well, our weather is finally back to normal.  After two fall months of unusually prolonged sunshine, our Oregon rain has begun its seasonal appearance.

Rain and Oregon have become synonymous in the past few years to the rest of the nation, thanks to the Oregon ungreeting cards. But we natives know that this is no new commodity to thwart tourism.  Our liquid sunshine is as common to us as dirt to other states.

Even though everyone occasionally complains about the discomfort of soaking wet feet, one has to admit that it wouldn't be like home without our skies being frequented by drops of liquid moisture. [Ack! Did I really write that?]

A common but often overlooked sign is the simple beauty of droplets of rain clinging to a branch.  Autumn leaves felled by the rain make for a more colorfully hued campus.

Raindrops on golden larch, Wallowa Mountains, Oregon

Rain-downed leaves accumulating over a storm drain, Joseph, Oregon

Let's face it...what would Oregon be without rain?

Ha, as I  wrote those words, how could I have imagined that they would be available for anyone to read on something called the World Wide Web in the future?

But the point is this:  We tolerate our rain, we complain about our rain, we hike in the rain, we endure our rain, we celebrate our rain, and we love our rain. Who doesn't feel extra cozy laying in a warm bed with the sound of rain pelting the roof and ground outside?

How do you feel about the rain? Love it? Hate it? Something in between?

Me, well, like I said, I love it. But that doesn't mean I won't feel compelled to slip away to the tropics or a southern desert for a winter break. :)


Ingunn said...

I welcomed its return, but after all that sun, I need to acclimatize to the dampness again. It just feels sooo cooold aaall the tiiiime! But generally I think the rain is ok as long as we get regularly scheduled sunny days. When it's a month-long drizzle (I'm looking at you, June 2012!), it strips me of my will to live. :o)

jill said...

I'm sorta with you on that Ingunn. I actually preferred the climate in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California where I lived for a year - when it rains, it rains hard, and then it clears up and the sun shines. Not so much of the constant gray. Yes our June this past year was...not fun. I know what you mean about acclimatizing again, too. Here's to our sunny days throughout the year!

vwin said...

Love. the. rain. That simple. Love the sun in its brief, glorious visit in late July - September. But I love the grey skies and green vegetation, even the chill. Different than other places I have lived -- the wild thunder/lightning downpours of VA, the rain in NYC that seemed to make things dirtier rather than cleaner. Love our gentle -- though more enduring -- rain.

jill said...

Vwin, nicely put! I'm reminded of Tim Egan's elegant, perfect book title" The Good Rain.

Anne said...

I love it when the rain comes, as my lawn turns bright green again and the rest of my plants appreciate it more hauling the hoses and sprinklers and running out to change them. There are indoor things I love to do, and outdoor things, so I just schedule them for the proper season.
Ah, the Royal Lancer, another trip down memory lane. A fine school paper it was!

Anne said...

I love the rain because it greens my lawn and I can stop dragging hoses and sprinklers around. My plants love it too. It turns our mountains into ice cream cones or white craggy peaks jutting into the sky for us to enjoy on our gorgeous clear winter days. I love the way true Seattleites (and Northwesterners) only use umbrellas in downpours. Rain gives us our lives and people who don't like it just don't understand it!
Loved your piece in that fine high school newspaper, the Royal Lancer.

jill said...

Thanks for two comments Anne! Yes, those clear winter days when the peaks are all snowy white are glorious!

Anonymous said...

I did miss the rain but now tired
it again.

Ivan said...

As much as I enjoyed the long summer, I was getting pretty antsy about the lack of rain. The trails were dusty and everything just wasn't green enough. Now, with the rain, all is right again.

Anonymous said...

Hey JillM:
My kind of blog. Nice to have the cold and wet conditions return after that awful sun.
Fredi the Yeti

Lesley said...

Here in Wenatchee, we don't get the Seattle kind of rain and weather. However, we are in the midst of a VERY WET WEEK, raining fairly steadily. For the moment, we're rejoicing in our finally clear air. But I don't even own an umbrella, the foothills trails are muddy... and I'll be glad when we get back to Wenatchee fall weather. That being said, it never bothered me living in Seattle with the rain and green and coolness -- just put on a "jumper" (sweater, preferably wool), as they would say in Scotland.

jill said...

Ivan, I like your summation, all is right. I know exactly what you mean.

Lesley, glad you're getting rain to clean the air and kill the rest of the fires over Wenatchee way. Ha, I remember using the term jumper for the same reason when I was in London for school. Here's to warm woolen jumpers!

Ed said...

Right now I am loving the rain because our garden needed it! I do like the fact that we see blue sky today and would like a little bit of that now and again, but I am a cold weather person so I am happy!

Dave Wenning said...

Awesome photos, great post. I have never been so happy to see the rain come. I had never thought of it before, but that could be a cultural thing around here. Your post really caught that for me. Not many realize, however, that Seattle ranks 44th among US cities in annual rainfall. The US annual average is 37", and Seattle gets 38, not really that different.