seattle summer.

Sunshine Panorama

A funny thing happens in this town for the first time each year around June. I’m not sure those who have never lived in the Pacific Northwest can truly understand it.

The sun returns.

But here’s the thing. It isn’t just the sun. It’s fresh air, it’s a lightness, it’s losing the dust and dirt and lint that collects in your mind during the gray, misty days of winter. I grew up in the Midwest, Minnesota, specifically. Spring and summer were wonderful. Suddenly, you didn’t need two sweaters and a winter coat just to get the mail. One day it was snow boots and a ski jacket, the next day it was flip-flops and a tank top. But even then, even when the temperature suddenly shot up 40 degrees overnight, it didn’t feel the same as the start of summer does in Seattle.

It might be cold, the world might be covered in snow, but in the Midwest, the sun doesn’t just disappear for nearly nine months. Curled up on a couch, under a blanket in a heated home, you can close your eyes and face the window where the winter sun is pouring in and almost trick yourself into thinking it’s July.

There’s no tricking yourself into sunshine in Seattle. I’ve tried. I own a sunlamp. I used it almost daily this past winter. I even left the clouds on three occasions to vacation in sunnier spots. And still, when the sun returned, it was like I’d had the best birthday party of all time. It’s an addiction. The first day the sun returns and it’s really warm (nearly 80 degrees when I took the photo above), it’s hard to stop yourself from overdoing it. (Yes, I have a sunburn.) People leave their homes and sit outside, wherever they can, to get some sun. They leave work early, skip classes or cancel indoor plans, all in favor of soaking up the sunshine. Smiles return to faces that had been somber for months. Even the dogs seem happier.

Juneuary will return, I’m sure. Summer doesn’t often stick around in Seattle until July; this is most likely just a tease. But I’ll take it. And when the rain comes back for one last hurrah, I’ll be patiently waiting inside with my bottle of sunblock.

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