Monday, January 29, 2018

The Pits Of Winter

There should be a special name for a person who is living through their first winter in Seattle. In Alaska, they use the term cheechako. There should also be names for the many kinds of rain we experience, just as native Alaskans have something like twenty words for snow. We use descriptors like wet and dry depending on how long it will take to get dangerously soaked.

Winter is actually a misnomer for late and early-year weather here, since the weather is essentially the same all year around: forty-five degrees and raining or promising to rain. The amount of daylight is the real variable. Weather reports are a waste of time, pretty much, since dressing for a given set of conditions leaves out the unpredictability of weather in the Puget Sound convergence zone. A quick glance at a site will warn of a hard freeze or high wind. 

Local Indians wore salmon oil, cedar bark skirts and capes, glorious hats and little else year around. Clothing like deer skin or cotton that holds moisture against the skin is fatal. I'm not kidding. A poncho, heavy wool sweater, jeans, and flip flops keep me happy on the rainiest beach or trail that is in convenient reach of a cabin and hearth -30-

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