Most of the tourists who flood into our dark-green corner of the world every year arrive in summer. On the surface that choice makes sense. Who wouldn't want to see Seattle in July, when Mount Rainier glistens like a mammoth scoop of Ben & Jerry's Vanilla against a sky the color of forget-me-nots?
But summer's a tiny part of a Northwesterner's world. Anyone wanting to know us well would be advised to visit in some other season. Fortunately, that's easy to do.
Last year KOMO meteorologist Scott Sistek calculated that Seattle experienced precisely 55 hours and 23 minutes of "summer," defined as time during which temperatures reached at least 80 degrees.
And glorious hours they were: No bugs, no humidity, no thunderstorms. Just endless blue skies over shimmering snowcapped mountains, surrounding a Puget Sound dotted with sailboats and cruise ship hauling cargoes of tourists to Alaska.
But when you've only got 55 hours you need to make them count. That expensive sea kayak/barbecue/yacht/Orcas Island cabin needs to justify its garage space/moorage/mortgage. Sit under a tree sipping lemonade and reading a book? That's crazy; you could blow a quarter of your summer on the first three chapters of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." No, it's go, go, go while the sun shines.
But winter's different. There's time enough to linger over a microbrew in a pub while you try to convince your friends you really did see Bigfoot in the Goat Rocks Wilderness last summer, and your friends counter that it was a hallucination brought on by the sleep deprivation due to trying to squeeze a summer's worth of activity into 55 hours.
There's time enough to nurse a latte for hours in Starbucks while you finish writing the code for Level Four of Monsters and Mermaids. Time enough to calculate those 787 wing loads one more time.
And time enough to write blog entries because it's raining too hard to go out into the garden to spread slug bait.
Every minute of our summer is worth savoring. But winter makes us who we really are.