The cloud cover that envelops the Pacific Northwest is often blamed for quirks within the population. Pacific Northwesterners are often vitamin D deficient and medical professionals have linked the large portion of gray days along the Salish Sea to everything from depression, to Multiple Sclerosis, to increased sunglasses sales (you see, we use them so rarely, they are often lost and then replaced). However, there is more at work here than just medical conditions and sunglasses. The general mood on these cloudy days doesn’t evoke an over abundance of surliness — though, I often wonder if the higher rates of college graduates and those who continue to pursue education, literature and so on is due in part to the abundance of rainy days that just beg for a warm fire and a good book. That being said, I do believe that when the sun rises over the Cascades and the blue sky is dotted with an occasional cloud, when the absolute majestic beauty of the unique landscape that makes up the Pacific Northwest is viewable to its inhabitants a sense of hope and optimism becomes contagious. David Abram describes these days as a “delicious radiance that seems to come from the things themselves . . . when we step outside we taste it in the air and the way a few fluffed clouds rest, almost motionless, in the crystal lens of the sky. How far our vision travels on such days! (Abram, p. 142). This optimism spreads through the cities and towns almost the instant the light touches the earth. Windows open to the sound of laughter from passers-by on the street and the smell of cherry blossoms and hyacinth carried on the breeze. Tinkling glasses from restaurant patios and the smell of a spontaneous home barbeques fill the air. It’s as if we all understand, seize the day, take in the sunshine, leave work early, go to the lake, the mountains, the rainforest, the city, pick up the kids early, eat dinner al fresco, kiss the girl, lay on the grass and take this moment in. The people as a collective breath a sigh of contentment and enjoy the moment, knowing that it is fleeting. And they are right. Just as quickly as it came, the glorious sunshine, warming pavement and opening blossoms, is gone. The cloud cover sweeps in, bringing a few raindrops with it, then a few more. Picnic blankets are hastily gathered and brought inside. Children’s bicycles lay haphazardly on their side as their owners retreat inside for a sweatshirt and a snack. We don’t mind, really. These raindrops keep our little corner of the world green and fresh so that when the sun does come out, we are swathed in emerald. And when the sun comes out again — and eventually it will, I promise you; we buy a new pair of sunglasses and treat it like a holiday.
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