Dear Seattle Weather Reporter

The Seattle rainy season typically extends through the fourth of July. What most people name Independence Day we call the first day of summer. However, by this past July, a raindrop hadn’t landed on my yard in over a month and daytime temperatures remained around eighty. Summer to most, but an outright heatwave for Pacific Northwesterners. The Emerald City had already shriveled brown and gone dormant along with my garden, spare some salvaged tomato plants, the I-can’t-kill-it rhubarb, and lethargic raspberries. Summer 2015: the hottest Seattle summer on record.

umbrella friends enjoying the rain2

Then touchdown, Chicago. I traveled to my birthplace to visit family and friends and really, to pork out on some amazing Chi-town grub. The plane windows streaked with droplets. I thought, “Ah, how refreshing. It’s raining here. They have all our rain.”

chicago rain2The excitable lady sitting behind me with two-tone hair and heavy eye makeup had read the National Enquirer aloud to her disinterested husband for much of the flight. She looks out the window and says, in that nasal Chicago accent that I, too, possess, “Oh my Gahhhhd, it’s so craaaappy here!”

I think, “Oh my Gahhhhd, this rain is awwwwesome, and I wish it would head toward Seattle.”

I want to chime in with, “There’s no crappy weather, only crappy gear.” I could also say, “The sun is always shining above the clouds,” as I think when I set my eyes on the grey layer typically hovering over Seattle. I keep quiet and wait for the crying babies to start up in choral harmony. They drown out the whining adults. Thank you, babies.

Which brings me to the Seattle Weather Reporter. It is now October, officially fall in Seattle, and the end of a record dry summer. I’m ready for rain. What say you, Weather Reporter?

birdbath runneth over2

When I first moved to Seattle from the Midwest, my dad warned, “You’ll need two rain jackets, because one will always be wet.” Fact. It rains here often from fall through spring. But Mr. and Mrs. Weather Reporter, dagnabbit, why ya gotta be so whiny like two-toned, frosted hair lady on the plane in Chicago? Why do you whirl your arms across the screen conjuring messages into the universe that average rain is “baaad?” Why do you and your Doppler radar drive us out of Vitamin Daytime into our artificially lit homes? We cannot get our daily dose by sitting inside with our faces pressed up against a window.

rain on deck 2

Weather reporter, turn that frown of an umbrella upside down into a full birdbath that runneth over.

Let’s break it down. It’s. Just. Water.

Plants, animals, the urine-streaked-brick alleys of downtown’s Pioneer Square, and all those law-abiding pedestrians at the cross-walks waiting for the light to change, all need a good soak. Seattle is the Emerald City, but without mucha agua falling from the sky, we’d be void of green ferns, towering conifers, and salmon swimming through backyards.

rain on fir2

Weather Reporter, it’s not that you report what we can already see out our windows, it’s you’re so judgey about it. Eeyore, please stop the “We’re doomed” bit. Make some joyful noise. I double dog dare you to try a new twist like, “Hey, Seattle! Put away the sunglasses and your electronics, and make some eye contact with each other. It’s going to rain all day, every day for the next week, and likely the next few months, so get out and enjoy this life-giving Northwest weather.”

Amazon rain
Someday, people will migrate here because of our rain, a precious natural resource. Even in the Amazon that receives about 7.5-feet of rain annually, over twice Seattle’s average, the villagers I visited greeted the rain with open arms and maybe a paper tent over their heads. Then they used those open arms to bail out a foot of water from our dugout canoe so we could get back to piranha fishing. Now, if people with immense rain, real rain, can put on a happy face, I think we should, too.

Nigeria laundry day2

While spending weeks in southern Nigeria we prayed for rain to fill rooftop water tanks so we had clean water with which to cook, bathe and wash our dishes and clothes.

The school kids carried various jugs on their heads to fill at a community well so their families had water to drink. It’s a heavy burden to have no rain. Still, they smiled.

Laura and schoolkids at well2

Weather reporters, let’s change our atmospheric ‘tudes. Yes, continue to warn us of high risk weather like floods, high winds, and “winter blasts.” But, let’s not be so quick to label a stretch of rainy days, “baaad.” Let’s keep a bigger world’s perspective. Fresh, clean, free water falling from the sky is an immense blessing. Let’s hear you cough up the Cumulus Congestus built up in your chest and say it, “Rain is good! Gear up, get out, and an enjoy it.”

Love this day.

By | 2017-12-11T15:53:11+00:00 October 19th, 2015|


  1. Heather MacLaren Johnson October 24, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Really great writing Laura! Like you, I love every weather condition. Everything is beautiful in its own way. And I agree with you –it’s all about the right gear!

    • Laura Hartema October 24, 2015 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Heather. You bring sunshine under an umbrella and a cloudy day.

  2. Amy Horton October 21, 2015 at 3:38 am

    We Midwesterners did seem to get an overabundance of early summer rain and would have gladly shared it with our friends in the PNW. It altered the growing season here and even master vegetable gardeners like my Dad saw lackluster yields. By late summer and into early autumn, though, the good Earth was cracked open begging for a drink. Our silver lining is that the wet early-dry late summer provide the ideal conditions for breathtaking autumn foliage. Refreshingly, our local weatherman reminded us of this splendid formula the other day. Refreshing until his next breath, when he forecasted much-needed rain whose accompanying blustery winds could wipe out the foliage before it had a chance to reach its autumn prime. Eeyore can’t help himself.

    • Laura Hartema October 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Hi Amy, it’s so true! Now that I wrote about it, I see it even more. Ah well, I’m still going to send out the praises on a rainy day.

  3. Katie Kula October 19, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    You always know how to put a positive spin on whatever life throws at you! Having lived through this drought and wildfire-ridden summer in The Gorge, I’ve missed the beautiful, clean refreshing greenness of the Emerald City I called home for the past 4 years. I’d even go so far as to say I miss the rain….but also finding happiness living in the land where the rain meets the sunshine! I miss you, Laura Sunshine!

    • Laura Hartema October 20, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Katie, anytime you need a dose of refreshing rain and some ever-green, come visit! The door is open, but please remove the wet shoes.

  4. Lilli Zeeberg October 19, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Wonderful writing dear Laura.
    Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

    I’ll just go to the desert!

    • Laura Hartema October 20, 2015 at 6:00 am

      Lilli, for a sun-worshipping Dane I’m surprised you made it in the Pacific Northwest this long. Just remember, the sun is shining above the clouds!

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