This story is part of the Grist series Coming to our Senses, a weeklong exploration of how climate change is reshaping the way we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste the world around us.
When I, a born-and-bred Pennsylvanian, first moved to Seattle, I found that people in the Pacific Northwest like to talk about the summers by way of explaining why they live there. “Wait until July,” they told me, smirking, as I shivered beneath a spitting late-May sky the exact same color as the sidewalk. Here is what happens in July: The clouds over coastal Washington dissipate, a brilliant sun bursts onto the scene with the carefree abandon of the girl at the Bat Mitzvah who just got her braces off, and the landscape becomes a kaleidoscope of sparkling topaz and emerald.
It is lovely. It is also not true summer, at least not for anyone who grew up east of the Mississippi.
Summer is walking outside of your house and instantly glistening. It is a dew point at 70 degrees, grass hot and lush, air so thick with humidity it almost quenches thirst. It is the sworn enemy of sleeves, bangs, and leather upholstery. In summer, one is constan... Read more