Everything under the sun
On July 24, Northwest weather guru Cliff Mass spilled the beans. Dr. Mass, the University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor and radio commentator, told the world and possibly the NSA our secret: We own summer.
We do, too. As Dr. Mass pointed out on his blog (cliffmass.blogspot.com), with an average daytime high temperature of 75, miniscule humidity, and less rain than Phoenix, our summer months are practically perfect.
And if you don’t like the weather on a particular day, you’re only a 30-minute drive from something different. Shush now. Let’s keep it between ourselves.
So, what do we do with our annual quarter of paradise? You name it. Sail, swim, hike, hang out, snooze, lounge, walk, wonder about the Mariners…it’s open season for whatever, our summer, and the secret to our success.
We tolerate February because we know that July is coming. Everybody understands this.
And yet. If we’re honest about all this meteorological bliss, I suspect most of us have experienced the same feeling, right about this time.
The beauty of our home is never quite as sparkly as during summer: The trees are more lush, the sky is more blue, the temperature is more temperate.
With only the occasional interruption, we get to enjoy day after day of same after same, and after a few weeks of this we begin to realize that summers in the Northwest are actually…
Boring. Or is it me?
All I know is that I find myself getting a cold drink from the fridge and thinking, “This is some really good ice,” and wondering how often I think that. More often than I’m comfortable with, probably.
As Cliff Mass knows very well, so well that he wrote a book about it (“The Weather of the Pacific Northwest”), we have fascinating weather here. It defines us, our weather does, and our remarkable variety is the spice of life.
Summer isn’t so spicy, then. Sort of dull, one beautiful day after another, and it’s easy to let them blend together until October, hardly paying attention except to occasionally mow the weeds.
Maybe it is just me. At any rate, I tend to look back on summers and see paradise lost, days I should have appreciated more and just didn’t. This is no fun in January, this regret.
So now, after 30 summers here, I’ve done it. Even with weeks to go, this is a season for the books. I suspect I will look at rain and snow and wind come winter and be content, knowing I had a summer to remember.
For those of you not hanging on every word I write, or even every other word, I’ll bring you up to speed.
About 14 months ago, I got an offer I apparently couldn’t refuse (I had every intention of refusing). A young man, fresh out of a stint in the Merchant Marine, had a story.
He wrote a screenplay while at sea, although it was inspired by what he saw inside the ship, not over the side. It was a story mostly about men, about a culture and how it clashes, and good for him.
And good for me, although it took me a while to see that. Needing a man of a certain age, and with Ed Harris too pricey and Gene Hackman retired, he opted for an old guy barely in his peripheral vision, faintly remembered from his high school days in Snohomish County.
A guy who wrote a newspaper column about nothing much. A guy who thought about ice a lot.
I could write a month’s worth of columns on what it’s like to make a movie, or at least this particular one. Another month could be spent on just the preparation, the financing, the casting process, the marketing of a product that didn’t yet exist.
It was a year in the making, this movie, before it was made, and that’s pretty quick for a feature film.
There’s also plenty to write about the democratization of creative arts, and specifically filmmaking, the one art in which the artist was totally at the mercy of money, as the raw materials were too expensive for one dreamer.
Technology has leveled the field in many ways, but maybe none so much as filmmaking. If you really want to, you can make a movie. But you have to really want to.
This man, Arthur Allen, did. And he gathered around him others who did, too.
Young men and women, passionate about movies and making them, about stories and telling them, flocked to this project, volunteering, working for little or no money, giving their time and energy. It was fascinating and inspiring to watch.
And this old guy had the summer of his life. Not because it was fun, although mostly it was. Not because it was affirming, since most of the time I only tried to remember my lines and not fall down, with only partial success.
Because it was different. Because it was new. Because I was surrounded by passion and energy, by people who were mostly 30 years younger, by new things.
Because during an ordinary summer, I had an extraordinary adventure. Because it would have been simpler not to, and because the summer I turned 55 it became apparent that simpler might be the rest of my life.
And it might. But this summer it wasn’t, and come January I think I’ll remember that, knowing that not a day was wasted, and knowing why.