Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How Do I Love the PNW? Let Me Count the Ways...

Aaah . . . It is a rainy October day at my house about 16 miles outside of Seattle. This, to me, is perfection. I love this weather so -- probably because I'm a bookworm, and this soggy sublimity screams for couch-sitting and tea-sipping and a good read. Did you know that people in the Pacific Northwest read more books every year per capita than anywhere else in the United States? Yep, even more than in New York. This is almost definitely related to the climate. Yes, it does rain up here as much as you've heard. If it is not raining, it is at least overcast 90% of the time between October and May. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I need to pay close attention to my environment and drink in every raindrop and dark grey cloud this autumn, winter and spring, because they are most likely my last in the Pacific Northwest. Chances are, this time next year, we'll be unpacking boxes in our new house in Sioux Falls, SD. I have so many mixed emotions about this probable move, though I do think that the balance falls in favor of South Dakota in the long run. But, I would like to indulge in a long sigh over my preferred habitat of Western Washington.

Have you ever seen Mt. Rainier? I've lived here for over five years now, and I am still surprised by its majesty -- rising up, snow-capped and imposing, over the southern horizon --when it greets me at the turn of the road.

There is a coffee culture up here to which I can emphatically relate. Little espresso carts or convivial coffee shops cheerfully stand on any given corner, offering liquid nirvana as a bolster against the enshrouding mist.

This is the land of Eddie Bauer, and, while I will certainly be able to replenish my wardrobe anywhere from this national chain, the clothes will never look as at home as they do when they are worn bespeckled with raindrops against a backdrop of evergreens (no self-respecting PNWer will use an umbrella -- we glory in the constant state of dampness).

Where else in these United States are fireplaces standard in every apartment for rent, but air-conditioning is rarely found, even in houses?

Record highs for heat were recorded this summer on days that reached the astonishing temperature of 85! As a native Southern Californian, I have to chuckle at that.

On a more personal note:

I will miss our church. I will miss our neighborhood (library, doctor's office, bank, grocery stores -- all easily navigable on foot). I will miss our Thai restaurant. I will miss my hair stylist (the only person ever to infuse body in my straight, fine hair without a perm!). I will miss the Puyallup Fair. I will miss the hikes, especially the one to the twin waterfalls. I will miss the zoos. I will miss the proximity of water, though I am no boater. I will miss my friend Kadie. I will miss the deer who visits our backyard and hangs out, eating our flowers, for hours.

I wish living out here were sustainable for a family that is determined to remain single-income while increasing in size. It is just not possible. And, I'd rather live anywhere where my husband would not have that worried look on his face everyday.

There is a lot in South Dakota to recommend itself as a place to raise a family:

The cost of living is substantially lower, especially in housing prices. There are grandparents there to provide occasional respite from Bug tyranny. The political environment is more closely aligned with my own philosophies. The homeschooling laws are even more liberal than here in Washington. When Roe vs. Wade is overturned (D.V.), abortion will most likely be illegal in most cases in South Dakota. The business environment is more conducive to starting and running a small business (Jason's dream).

Oh, but I will miss the trees and the rain and the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest. I will indeed.

Okay, enough sniveling and whining. I'm grateful to have had the chance to live up here for five years, and I will be grateful for our future home in South Dakota. I am grateful for my husband, who works so hard to provide for our family and who will make certain that, so long as his abilities and will have anything to do with it, we will always have shelter, clothing, food, and a certain amount of what can only be considered luxuries and extras. And that's better than a majority of people who live on this earth.


Andrea said...

Many blessings to your family. That is a really big move, but you'll be ok. I've only been to Washington once, a long time ago, but it was very pretty. At one time, I considered moving there by myself!
Actually, I'm kinda jealous that you're moving to SD, away from major metropolitan areas.
I know what you mean about being a single-income household. I was just thinking the other day, how grateful I am that me and my husband are on the same page about our family. That's a blessing in itself. I pray that the Lord will pour out His blessings on you :)

Difster said...

I love a rainy day, a comfortable recliner, a warm blanket and a good book.

vermonster said...

So.....I guess I need to get myself out there by spring huh?
I'll figure out a way!

razorbackmama said...

LOL we lived in Olympia for 10 months, and the first month or so, we thought Mt. Rainier was a myth. Since we NEVER SAW IT. It was always so overcast. Then about a month after we moved there, we had a clear day. WOW! It did exist! LOL! (And we had a gorgeous view from our house!)

Does it actually RAIN in Seattle, or does it just mist/spit a lot like it does down in Olympia? That drove me bonkers - I couldn't even have my windshield wipers on intermittent because it was too much LOL! But we did like it a LOT over there!

Serena said...

That will be an immense change. I used to live in northeast Nebraska, in the Norfolk area. I've been just across the Missouri River to South Dakota is all. It will be such a different landscape from where you live. It grows on you, though, and it is a good area to raise children. My older 4 have such good memories (particularly the oldest 3) of their days in Nebraska. I hated leaving it for Florida, but Father had a plan for me in going to Florida. Not of my choosing, but what was best for me in the long run. I know that with His working in you, that you will learn to be content wherever He has you.
Love and shalom,

CrazyJo said...

Other than the city, I have learned to love every place I have lived. I sometimes miss Nebraska, and the tablelands and hills and all that wonderful wind! I loved the beach in Florida and all the sunshine! I'm not sure I do as well in a mostly cloudy environment (especially when I live in the city - the country would be different, I think). Tennessee has such beauty to it. I love the Smokey's! Missouri was great too - I miss the National Forest, and the patchwork roads that were hell on wheels but pretty to the eye. Next up is going to be Texas, near the Oklahoma border. Since I found Oklahoma to be butt-ugly (except in the north-eastern corner) I'm not sure how this move will go. At least it's not permanent! :)
I'm sure you will grow to love your new state, Justine. You seem the sort to be able to find the best in your situation. And there will still be books in SD (though you may have to open your own coffee shop). :)

Arielle said...

You're bringing out my wanderlust, Justine! Either place sounds wonderful to me. Of course, I have problems being content in my current surroundings, as the Tampa Bay area is the armpit of Florida.

PatrickMead said...

My prayers are with you as you move. I miss the rains in Scotland (where, if you can the mountains, it's going to rain. And if you can't see the mountains, it's already raining). After three years in a row of drought in Michigan, rain sounds nice. However, South Dakota is an exceptionally wonderful place. You will be blessed there.

Billy D said...

I wish you the best! You're making me very jealous, as I would love to live in SD. You are so darned lucky! You're still gonne be on the blogsphere, right?

Justine said...

Wow! You are all so positive about SD -- do you not understand that there are NO THAI RESTAURANTS in SD?!?!?!? I'm just kidding, though. I went to college in SD, and there are many cool things about the state. And there is a particular beauty to the Great Plains. And I long to have about 25 acres eventually -- with a few horses and other livestock. It will be a good move in the long run.

Razorbackmama: There is a lot of spitting and misting up here too, but we get our fair share of honest-to-goodness rain. Even some snow in Renton!

Vermonster: Yep! At least we may achieve Carolyn Arends concert parity now that I'll be living away from most of her West Coast venues. If you are cruel enough to be consoled by that thought!

Joelle: Thanks, Pollyanna. I'll put on a happy face. Just kidding -- you're right: Nothing can keep me from books (or coffee).

Arielle: I feel for you, sister. I do not think I'd like Tampa either.

Patrick: I long to go to Scotland! I like your description -- sounds like weather to which I could easily adjust! Your former home? Or just a missed vacation spot?

To all the rest of you: You are, of course, right. SD will be just fine. In fact, we were recently there to visit the Sioux Falls grandparents, and we looked at some really beautiful old houses in the historic area (and, oh!, how lovely the prices!). It will be just fine. It will be just fine. It will be just fine. Anyway, it's only a temporary home in any event -- even if I should live out the rest of my earthly life there.

I still love the PNW, though.