I’ve lived in Seattle for over twenty years and I still love it here. It’s known by various nick names: Jet City (because of all the Boeing jets built here) and The Emerald City (because of all the greenery). Personally, I prefer Drip City because it’s more accurate, thanks to all the rain and the fact that at last count there were at least 1,542 Starbucks locations in downtown Seattle alone.
For many people in the eastern two-thirds of the country, Seattle is this mysterious, faraway place they only know about from Sleepless in Seattle. But there is so much more to this city than a spunky Meg Ryan (although let’s not understate Meg’s importance).
Let me debunk a few myths about my adopted city:
- Myth: It rains here all the time. That is simply not true. The weather here is gloriously sunny and mild with zero humidity – if you happen to be here in August. Otherwise, yeah, it does rain a fair bit.
- Myth: The sun vanishes for nine months of the year, from October through June. Again, utter hyperbole. There are many winters where you may see the sun for long stretches of time – usually during the second week of August.
- Myth: It is so damp here that the roofs of most houses are covered in thick moss. Actually, it’s more like a light dusting. And this also goes for the dusting of moss you’ll typically find on our lawns, driveways, patio furniture, and any toddler who has been left out in the backyard for more than 45 minutes.
It’s true. Seattle gets more than its fair share of clouds and rain. During the annual Seattle Rain Festival (January 1 – December 31), it never gets sizzling hot nor bone-chillingly cold. Take a look at the typical high temperatures in Seattle throughout the year:
I’ve heard stories about how one year on August 9th the high temperature supposedly soared to a boiling 84 degrees. I can’t personally attest to the veracity of this incredible claim. It might just be an urban legend, sort of like Bigfoot. In the middle of summer you’ll catch your typical Seattleite wearing shorts, sandals, a long-sleeved flannel shirt and a down parka vest. Interestingly, this is the exact same outfit they’ll be sporting in January.
We don’t get much sunshine. By late summer, the average Caucasian Seattleite’s skin tone has darkened to a shade somewhere between “egg shell” and “pearl” on the Sherwin-Williams paint color chart. Technically it does not rain in Seattle. It drizzles. Conversely we don’t actually have sunny days either. We have what local meteorologists refer to as sun breaks (I’m not making this up) because we simply can’t recall the last time we had a full day of nonstop sunshine. But we still love our fair city.
One interesting factoid you might not know is this: No one is actually from Seattle. Every one of us is an immigrant from one of the following six areas: Wisconsin, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, North Dakota or Norway. And every one of us moved here for the same reason: We visited Seattle and fell in love with the city’s natural beauty, with a jaw-dropping view of nearby snow-covered Mount Rainier. All of our visits took place in August. By the time we realized it’s not quite so lovely here the other eleven months of the year, we’d already put down a down payment on a condo so we were stuck. There are no exceptions to this immigration story.
If you live in Seattle, by law you are required to be a liberal. I’m pretty sure it’s in the city constitution. Seattleites must take an oath to vote for any bike lane improvement project and any legislation claiming to protect the salmon against ANYTHING. All Seattleites believe that preserving some snail darter’s swampland habitat is far more critical than, say, preserving jobs.
Seattle is not a very religious city. We have fewer houses of worship per capita than any other major American city – unless you count Starbucks coffee shops as houses of worship. But ours is a very friendly city – that is, unless we catch you littering or, God forbid (not that we necessarily believe in God, mind you) we ever see you putting an aluminum can in the garbage bin instead of one of eleven different categories of recycling receptacles.
Seattleites are a tad bit obsessive when it comes to the environment and recycling. We recycle everything – everything! The cardboard centers on toilet paper rolls, food scraps, yard waste, mattresses, bar stools, garden hoses, kids’ jungle gyms, you name it – we recycle it. Hell, I am even recycling this post, which I originally ran back in 2011.
We Seattleites may be fervently left-of-center in our politics, but we are fervently polite about it. We are routinely chided for being annoyingly courteous. Just yesterday I overheard my neighbor Fred talking to a stranger who was handing out a pamphlet which got Fred riled up. Clearly steaming with outrage over the contents of the flyer, Fred pleasantly remarked:
Good morning, sir. I hope you don’t mind my saying, but I find your flyer proclaiming that all Muslims should be rounded up and shipped back to Iraq, to be, well, somewhat off-putting. I respect your right to express your opinion. But I can’t agree with your view that all illegal aliens should be executed for trespassing. Oh, by the way, I hope you remembered to print your white supremacist leaflets on recycled paper. Have a nice day. Go, Seahawks!
Drip City is a community of left-of-center, politically correct, polite to a fault, energy-conserving, environmentally-obsessed recycling fanatics with moss growing on their parka vests. And we love it here. This place may not be the perfect place to live – particularly if you’re fond of say, warmth, sunlight or Sean Hannity. But Seattle beats the pants off some God-forsaken frozen Hell Hole like Fargo, North Dakota – unless, of course, you happen to be from Fargo, North Dakota – in which case, I meant to say Butte, Montana.
Hey, I just noticed that the drizzle has momentarily paused, the clouds have parted, and there appears to be some mysterious yellowish spheroid in the sky. No idea what it is but I just have to check it out…. No, wait. Never mind. It’s drizzling again.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014