Reveling in Sunshine

When I lived in Florida, I used to take sunshine for granted. As a matter of fact, I kind of looked upon it as a creator of sweat, sunburn and humidity, and avoided it whenever possible. Mine was a closed-in, air-conditioned existence.

Not so in Washington State. Here, I glory in the sunshine whenever it’s available. (I haven’t gone completely native. I still tend to get hindered by the rain, but I go outdoors every sunny chance I get.) About half the year, I even eat dinner on my back porch.

Recently it actually got up to 70 degrees for a whole day, and I had the opportunity to go hiking with a friend, and afterward we just sat on a lakeside park bench and soaked up the sun. It was glorious.  It was transforming. It was the perfect way to spend the day. Bliss. Simple. Free. It still makes me smile, just thinking about it.

Don’t you just love it when you feel glad to be alive? The sun’s rays and a friend with a sunny disposition. What gifts.

Come on, Spring! Hit me with all the goodness! I can take it!

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Nature’s Personality

When I lived in Florida, I avoided nature at all costs. For me it was a place of spiders and snakes and mosquitoes and lightning strikes and fire ants and tornadoes and floods and, increasingly, forest fires. You couldn’t even jump into a pile of leaves for the scorpions. (How does one get through childhood without jumping into at least one leaf pile?)

Status quo was heat and humidity and sweat and sunburns. Mostly, I hid indoors, and went into full-blown panic if my air conditioning broke down. In fact, life was hopping from one air-conditioned oasis to the next. All my windows were painted shut. Having that contentious relationship with the great outdoors, I kind of had the mindset that I was surviving in spite of, rather than because of, nature.

It’s amazing how quickly my attitude changed when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Here, I don’t even own an air conditioner. During the warmer months, my windows practically stay open. I have a new-found love for fresh air. During those same months, I have dinner on my back porch every evening. I’ve yet to encounter a mosquito, let alone anything else that might bite me. I don’t even own any bug spray.

Here, I get outdoors every chance I get. I’m starting to look at the rainy, grey winter months (which I confess I’ll never get used to), as the penance I have to pay for the exquisite gifts of spring, summer, and fall. This is the first time I’ve experienced seasons in 40 years. They’re magical.

Perhaps nature is more than one entity. I like its personality much better here than I did in Florida. Here, we’re friends, not enemies. And I didn’t realize how much my life lacked for not having that friendship until it finally came along.

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Hotter’n Hell

When I feel like putting myself in an instant good mood, I look up the weather report for Jacksonville, Florida, my old home town. At the time of this writing, it’s 93 degrees with 100 percent humidity there. I remember those days.

You step outside and feel as if you’re being covered by a steaming hot, heavy, wet wool blanket. The air feels as thick as tapioca, and everything you do takes a thousand times more effort. Even breathing is difficult. You don’t have a clue why any tourist would want to be in this, but they still come in sweaty droves. You try to fool yourself into thinking you’ll get some relief after sunset, but no. Then it’s just dark and oppressive.

You can always tell a native. They’re the ones who walk in the shade and hop from one air conditioned oasis to another. Tan? Don’t be silly. That would require sitting in the sun. Forget that.

Here in Seattle, it’s going to be an unseasonably hot 80 degrees with 70 percent humidity, and people are complaining. It makes me giggle. I don’t even own an air conditioner. Why would I?

Despite Seattle’s rainy reputation, I spend a whole lot more time outdoors here than I ever did in Florida. The air is fresh and clean and free of bugs. It revitalizes you, rather than sucking the life force out of you. I take advantage of every drop of sunshine that comes my way.

I feel sorry for the friends I left behind, shriveling like raisins in the Florida sun. But on the other hand, some people deserve to be hotter than hell. I am happy to think of Andy Johnson, who stole $3,500.00 from me (read more about that here), sweating and suffering. It will be good practice for his afterlife.

But as for me, I’m glad I got out while I could.

[Image credit: mlive.com]
[Image credit: mlive.com]

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Sun

I have to admit that when I was contemplating my move from Florida to Seattle, I approached the whole concept with a certain level of trepidation. Everyone knows it rains all the time in Seattle. I mean, All. The. Time. I really didn’t know how I would cope. I’m already prone to depression. Would this push me over the edge?

Now that I’ve been in Seattle for 6 months, though, I realize it’s not that big of a deal. Yes, it rains all the time, but this isn’t Florida rain. It’s not frog-choking, gully-washing, break-out-your-rowboat-and-head-for-higher-ground rain. It’s more like a constant annoying mist. It’s not even worth putting on a raincoat most of the time.

What’s harder to take is the fact that during certain parts of the year it’s overcast and you can’t see the sun. But even then, the clouds occasionally break and let the sunshine in, and then you appreciate it even more. When the sun comes out I make an effort to go outside. I probably spend more time outdoors here than I ever did in Florida, where you could take the sun for granted. It also doesn’t hurt that you don’t get the oppressive 100 percent humidity and 100 plus temperatures here, either.

Truth be told, in Florida I worked graveyard shifts for 13 years, so I slept through most of the sun. Because of that, I probably see more sun in Seattle than I ever did in the Sunshine State, and that suits me just fine.

So, yeah, I take my Vitamin D, and occasionally I turn on my S.A.D. light, but for the most part, it’s all good. Don’t let the rain scare you away from this amazing city. Learn to see the beauty in the grey and appreciate all that this place has to offer.

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[Image credit: hdrcreme.com]

Portents of Summer

Summer is only a month away, but as usual here in Florida we get it early. People envy us, until the temperature tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 100 percent humidity. Then, not so much. (And I want to know how it’s possible to have 100 percent humidity without having rain. Could someone please explain that to me?)

When I was a child up north, my main signal that it was summer was no more school. But I have since put away childish things and moved southward. Now I have other signs. For example, two inch long dead cockroaches start showing up in my shower stall. I have no idea why, but it is always thus. And slugs start sliding up my windows. That always adds a certain something to the view.

Back when I still owned a house, salamanders would congregate on the ceiling of my front porch. Love bugs threaten to choke our car radiators, and everything gets covered with a thick green coating of pollen. My sinuses pretty much slam shut until October. And then there’s the barking of the baby crocodiles. All. Night. Long.

As a bridgetender I get to see all the rich people migrating back up north in their sailboats, and I can look up and see the Canada geese heading the same direction. We also get even more joggers trying to run across the bridge, delaying our openings as the boats are bearing down upon us. And not one, not one captain offers me a day out on the water to beat the heat. The nerve of some people.

Another common indication that it’s summer for me is that relatives and friends start asking if they can sleep on my couch on their way to Disney World. If it weren’t for Mickey Mouse I’d probably be a recluse. It’s a small world after all.

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Small, yes, but they make one hell of a racket.