Friday, May 11, 2012

Rediscovering Spring

I'd forgotten how infuriating and delightful spring is in the Northwest; the last time I went through this was in 2008. Like the pains of childbirth, its peculiar form of manic-depression, gloom and brightness, chill and warmth, blossoms and hay fever had dissolved from my memory..

March came, April, then we were into May, and I was colder than I'd been in December. Springtime here has its own peculiar weather, with gusts coming off the Sound and rapid squalls that drench straight through to the gall bladder. Days fade into each other wrapped in heavy cloud blankets. Lights go on in the morning and often stay illuminated until bedtime. A trip to the grocery store is an exercise in sturdy pioneer fortitude. Trees form tentative leaves that are a sullen shade of green and any flowers that bloom look extremely out of place.

And then comes the morning when shadows form on the floor and a strange light teases at my closed eyelids. My cat finds patches of sun-warmed carpet and claims them. When I walk outside, the air feels like an invitation; I can't stay indoors. The past six months have taught me not to take sunlight for granted, as I did when I lived in Bangkok.

I take long, exploratory walks, finding places I didn't know existed in my neighborhood--a Buddhist temple for the Vietnamese who have taken over this district, a church where mass is said in Spanish, a taco truck only blocks from my apartment, a grocery store that sells injera next to an Ethiopian restaurant. A hillside full of carefully kept houses is alive with lilac bushes, peonies, azaleas, and rhododendrons; gluttonously I go there almost every day, hungry for color that isn't grey-green..

Yesterday I walked along the waterfront, which has become a tawdry mess of fast food and ugly souvenirs. I spent most of the winter avoiding it but now the stupidity of the place has vanished, consumed by blue water,  a breeze that carries the sting of salt and the scent of creosote left over from the days when this part of the city was more than a tourist trap. And I understand that spring is the drug that will keep me here, at least one more year.

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