When you don’t write about the weather for six weeks there is a lot of catching up to do. And a lot of variation.
This week’s cold – nights in the 20s – did more than answer the question “where’s winter?” The clear sky Monday following Sunday’s rain brought out the most vivid, expansive Olympic Mountains range, larger and bolder in the southwestern horizon that I have seen in my eight months here. I took notes earlier of the mountain sitings, but timing is everything. Monday, they had a whiter, more three-dimensional cast.
The day makes redundant my earlier note: 12 February: clear night and clearest morning ever. The Olympic Mountains stood tallest, largest, whitest that I have seen to date. Amazing. Beautiful.
This week there is ice in the fields, a common winter site, probably, but this late February the first this year. Rains, days and weeks of gray and precipitation finally introduced me to and proved those Washington stereotypes. Since moving here in July, I have asked what’s up with the weather? I am not keeping records, but the rain from the end of January through February’s first weekend is the longest, steadiest stretch of rain in my Washington tenure.
And every time the rains clear at night: stars. I was out 10-plus nights ago, when clouds dissipated. On the 9th, clouds were more gathered here and there then scattered and not so much wispy, but not thick, either. Stars, light pricks from the past, peeked through the holes, the power of light shining in the black sky. By 10 p.m. the high clouds were really scattered. The mostly clear sky was an astronomer’s, or storyteller’s dream, the constellations boldly standing out, begging to have their stories told.
February 11 before midnight nary a cloud stood above Pleasant Ridge. The black night was sprinkled with stars. A red star shone above farm fields eastward. Orion, in the southwest, stood astride the Swinomish Channel, one leg planted on Fidalgo Island, the other rooted firmly in the Skagit Valley.
The big dipper stood on it’s handle, perfectly balancing its cup. Perfect.
And now, since January passed, the days lengthening visibly. We are gaining minutes each sunrise and more minutes as the sun sets later daily. The November through January period of short daylight length is one I struggle through yearly. The lengthening day means spring is on its way.
But spring is not here yet. The nights are as cold as February calls for. The worst of winter is past. That is a terrible phrase and I don’t mean it. Spring is on the horizon, metaphorically if not literally. Spring is winning the race, as it always does.