Seattle hit me like a green, wet blob. Although it was fall it was still much greener than I was used to. In the desert the only colors, in any season, had been different shades of brown, yellow, purple and this weird dusty looking green. There were manicured lawns along my block that stayed put in their squares or rectangles of fertile earth. The grass wouldn’t have left that plot of land if it was given an invitation. There was simply no sustenance in the sand. Those pitiful, little lawns were the only green even remotely similar to the green of Seattle. I was able to find the beauty in all the browns and yellows and purples; in fact I miss seeing palm trees everyday swaying in the winds coming off the Santa Ana Mountains. I love the landscape of the desert. I love the creosote bushes with their tiny yellow flowers giving off a pungent scent that bit your nose. The pollinated air around the bushes was just as beautiful as the dozens of purple wild flowers that sprung through the sand every spring. The flowers would burst forth and completely cover vast expanses of untouched desert. They weren’t flowers like daffodils or tulips, but small purple things tucked close together like families, bursting from a dull green shrub. It is a beautiful place, my desert. Alas I will never go back; Washington seduced me the very day I moved.
The first thing I noticed was the grass. It was everywhere. There were no manicured lawns in Seattle, except in the wealthy areas of town, where folks could afford a gardener. The grass grew where it pleased, even in the cracks in the sidewalk and through a rock wall, it wasn’t particular.
The trees in Seattle baffled me. As we drove into the city from the freeway, the first thing I noticed was the trees visible between houses, as if the houses had popped up uninvited in a lush forest. The trees were huge standing alone or in clumps, their leaves a weird yellowy green as fall approached. Despite the slight turning of the leaves all I saw was green. There was green everywhere, bushes and weeds and flowers and green, green, green! It was amazing, even the weeds looked like sweet little flowers, when I’d first arrived. I thought it couldn’t get any better than early fall in Seattle, so much green and yet so much color. I wasn’t prepared for fall in all her glory.
Autumn came in full swing only a couple weeks after being at school. The air had a crisp fresh feel to it. As the air chilled, the leaves started their gorgeous transformation from yellowy green to bright red, vibrant yellow, orange and scarlet, even new shades of brown I’d never seen. They started to fall, leaving blankets of crushed leaves on the sidewalks and in the grass. I wondered how everyone could just walk on like nothing was happening. I found myself eagerly looking around as I walked to class, totally enamored with the natural beauty around me. I’d been on vacation in Seattle before, so I thought I knew what Seattle was like. My mother reminded me that we’d only gone in the summer, when most things were left to their own devices which meant turning brown and withering (at least in the case of my garden).
I kept thinking to myself how wonderful it was to live in Seattle. How it wasn’t as rainy as everyone said, even how it wasn’t as cold as I was expecting. I was actually quite pleased with the weather. I loved that there would be a sunny day here or there. It would rain for two days then right in the middle of the week was the sunniest day, you’d ever seen. I loved the weather. I thought I could handle it, until winter reared it’s ugly, cold, wet head.
Winters in Southern California are mild. Sure you may carry a sweater with you, but you probably won’t need it until after five o’clock in the evening. I learned a lot about myself that first winter in Seattle. The constant sunshine at home had spoiled me. I became confused at first when we’d had a straight month of cloud cover. It was cloudy and drizzly all the time. Even when we did have the one or two days when it was sunny, that lack of cloud cover made it impossible to do anything outside, it was just too cold. Every thing looked gray and sad. The trees stood spindly and naked. The grass, though still green, was squelchy and impossible to walk though. Nature seemed to be deeply asleep.
I felt cheated; I thought if it got this cold there had to be snow. I perked up a little when I saw frost layered on the grass and plants around school. The snow must be coming soon. When someone told me Seattle hardly ever got snow I was actually offended. I’d never been so cold in my life and all I got was rain and crunchy grass? I was mad and began spending more time inside. Winter was proving to kick my butt more than I thought. I was getting depressed, my roommate didn’t seem to like me, and there was no sunshine. Luckily by this time I’d made a friend. She too was from SoCal and we would spend the endless hours of rain in our dorm rooms, watching movies, Roswell and reminiscing about High School in the heat. If it hadn’t been for her, I might have jumped out my 6th floor dorm window or just shipped it back to Palm Springs. I soon discovered that a Seattle winter is worth the wait for a Seattle spring and summer.
Spring arrived slowly but surely. I noticed it because I began sneezing at least twenty times a day, but didn’t show any signs of illness other than the sneezing and itchy eyes. The sun finally started to peek out once in a while and I saw that all those dark days and gray rain had brought the most vibrant green I had ever seen. Not only was green everywhere, there were flowers popping up in the most random places. There would be a daffodil in a tree planter downtown or growing out of some ivy on Queen Anne. It was the weirdest thing I’d seen in my life. The air was slowly warming and became fragrant (when I could smell it). Nature was finally waking up again! The trees clothed themselves in their shiny green leaves; the grass dried and became less muddy. Tulips started to sprout shortly after the daffodils. The tiny buds pushed up through the ground and turned their fiercely colored faces to the sun. I could bear cold, wet winters if it meant I got this spring every year. Then to exceed all expectations summer arrived.
Summer in the desert had always been unbearable, unless you had a pool, air conditioning or a friend with both. Going outside with any other intention than to swim meant taking a cold shower before going to bed. Not in Seattle. In Seattle summer means beautiful warm days and mild cool nights. You can spend all day outside and not worry about heat stroke or sun stroke. There’s always shade somewhere and always an air conditioned Starbucks around the corner if you feel you need some water. Summer in Seattle was the last straw for me. I was head over heels for this place. Seattle was to be my new home; the seasons alone had seduced me.