Monday, December 2, 2013

Suddenly, it's winter in Seattle

Winter is rolling in. We may not have reached the solstice yet, but it's a fact: here in Seattle the days are now short, the sun (when it appears)  low in the sky, and the leaves all fallen from the deciduous trees. When I went away for the long holiday weekend on Thursday morning, it still felt like fall, for the temperature was in the 50s and enough leaves remained on the grand old cherry tree in my backyard to turn the light shining through it golden. When I arrived home yesterday, the leaves had all vanished, and the temperature was dropping. Will the thyme and marjoram in the garden survive the winter? Who can say? Some winters they do, others they don't. (The marjoram usually doesn't.) Big portions of my yard have gone dormant. Some herbs and greens continue to thrive, but everything else is sleeping or dead. Which is, of course, as it should be.

I'm always aware that many people find winters in Seattle difficult to survive. The scantiness of the light, alone, can bring great suffering. But though I'm of a horribly moody temperament, I don't suffer from seasonal affective disorder. And so I can take great pleasure in Seattle's winter face. I've developed an affection for the strangeness of the light filtered always through the atmosphere (because, of course, of the sun's lowness in the sky). And I've learned to know to look for the birds, especially waterfowl, that visit here in the winter. (In a few weeks I can expect to find swans, for instance, swimming in Lake Washington, and snow geese on the Skagit Flats.) And of course the beaches are always beautiful, even when they're socked in with fog. (And of course for those who ski or snowshoe, day trips into the mountains can be spectacular.)

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