Warnings abound.

tsunami sign

No, no, I’m not talking about this one (though don’t think for a moment this one doesn’t creep me out). While tsunami warnings do indeed abound — there’s a similar sign in our neighborhood, in fact — there’s little to no day-to-day talk about the threat. The subject broached far more often, with a far greater sense of foreboding, is wintertime.

As most everyone knows, the weather is temperate in the Pacific Northwest. Winters are mild, especially as compared to other states as far north as Washington. Yet because we are so far north, we get a crazy fluctuation in daylight hours through the year. It’s not exactly the Land of the Midnight Sun but it’s one heck of a lot closer to it than anywhere else I’ve lived.

When John and I moved into our house in early June, light would start filtering through the window blinds well before 5 a.m., not to go dark again until long after 10:00 at night. Now that gap is narrowing, with darkness falling much closer to 9 p.m. We haven’t experienced a Washington winter yet, but John and I are getting a bit jittery over how much farther south the sun is setting nowadays, in addition to the relative earliness of the event.

From our deck last June, we’d watch the sun go down over Protection Island.


Since then, sunsets have slowly scooched to the left.

sunset now

Although the weather has been the epitome of perfection for weeks on end — such unaltered perfection a rarity in this part of the country — good luck finding many folks around here able to sit back and relish it for what it is. When we comment about a beautiful day to a passerby on the street or someone working in one of the Port Townsend shops, half the time the response we get is something like, “Oh you should’ve been here last year. It didn’t get out of the 60’s until September!”

Our friends Varen and Walter, both of them long-time Washingtonians, often point out what a remarkable season it’s been. This past June, in particular, was apparently quite the anomaly. We’d been forewarned about June — how it tends to be cold and cloudy, thus earning the name “Junuary” — yet the month turned out to be mostly delightful. July was sublime; so far, August is following suit.

September is supposedly the finest month of all, and we’ve heard nary a disparaging remark about October. November, on the other hand, is a different story. In the spirit of full disclosure, Varen and Walter continue to fill us in on what’s to come beginning in November, and it sounds most dire. From what they’ve told us, I’m envisioning November and December as something like this:


Maybe that’s a tiny exaggeration. However, the days are certain to be as short during those two months as they were long in June and July. And to be perfectly fair, no mention has been made of zombies. (We’ll just have to wait and see for ourselves on that one.)

This is probably a more realistic depiction of winter in Western Washington:

black screen

Should be fun. One thing I know for sure is it’ll be an ideal time for an extended vacation. South.

Ah, but unlike several of our neighbors who live here only half the year, John and I aren’t in a financial position to own both a summer home and a winter home, so our vacation won’t encompass the entirety of the darkest months. We’ll need to find something to do here, and I had been worried about keeping John occupied. He goes a little bonkers when he’s not outside working in the garden, and there is no gardening in this part of the world during the short days.

Fortunately, he just began some big projects: putting up more fencing, building a greenhouse, and terracing three sections of the yard to create additional level areas for growing food. Nine pallets of 65-pound blocks for the terraces arrived yesterday, four of them shown here.


I suspect he’ll stay busy well into the winter.

What will I do during that time? Well, when I’m not sitting by the fire reading a good book or working on a pile of crossword puzzles, I’m sure I’ll be peering out the windows, tracking John’s progress. At least until it gets too

black screen


20 thoughts on “Beware

  1. Hi Jo and John! I love reading your blog, and realize that I’m a bit of a lurker, so I thought I’d go ahead and say hello. Let me know if you come to Texas for a winter vacation – I would love to see you.

    • I love that you lurk, Leslie! We are indeed planning a trip back to Austin this winter and it’d be all sorts of fun to see you again. I’ll send out a warning to everyone down there when we’re on our way!

  2. Great story! I’m always so excited to see another entry in my email inbox — I look forward to a brief get-away to the Pacific Northwest! Sounds like heaven — even the short days!

    • Thank you Cindy! It is by all means pretty darned heavenly up here. The short days are going to be bizarre, but I suspect the promise of more of these perfect days to come will make it all worthwhile.

    • I’m counting on that key, Carol Ann! No guarantees John and I won’t be zombies by that time ourselves, though. You might want to keep your shotgun handy, just in case…

  3. Pretty weird to think about really short days like that. When Joe and I went to England one summer, years ago, we were struck by the super long days. The sun started coming through our bedroom window at 4:30 a.m.! And it was still light outside at 10:30 p.m. Of course the locals were telling us the same story your hearing about the dark winters. I think I would sleep more if I didn’t have to get up.

    Keep us posted. I love the pictures you insert into your blog. They’re great for enhancing the message!!!

    • Believe me, Debbie, sleep is number one on the agenda for the winter months! Downright hibernation, even. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

  4. Beautiful pictures of the sunsets. Are those chemtrails I see in the sky top one? It sounds like you will be putting John in a hot bath every night after all that rock/block moving. Playing the good wife can keep one busy by itself…..maybe you can start writing your book. Have a blessed day. Judy Tobey

    Sent from my iPad

    • I don’t know that those are chemtrails Judy. We rarely see planes flying overhead here, so I’m kind of doubting it. The clouds do crazy wonderful things in this part of the country — we get such a kick out of how often the weather changes over the course of only one day. And as for John’s block moving/garden building, it’s just what he does! He wears ME out just watching him. I suppose it’s what keeps him so skinny, the devil.

  5. You’re so witty and funny!

    I have a lot on the Big Island in Hawaii and those tsunami signs are everywhere!


    • Thanks Karen! And, um, what’s that address again on the Big Island? Not that we’d ever squat on it or anything, ahem, harrumph, no, no….

  6. Hi Jo. I couldn’t help but reflect on our experience in Germany as I read this. We were consistently amazed at the differences in the length of the days – truly observable on a day-to-day basis. We were at the same latitude as Nova Scotia – much more marked than the subtlety of the change in Texas days. And though the winters were considerably mild there (considering the latitude), the cold and dark of winter did seem to drone on far longer than I cared for. Wasn’t so bad in December with the fun and beauty of the Christmas markets, but the dark and dreary of January and February seemed too much. We learned to cope though, and I’m sure you will too. That being said… Texas would love a wintery visit from you!

    Take care. And regards to John too please.


    • We’re getting a preview today. It’s cloudy and dark and only 4:30. Granted, technically the sun isn’t going down now until 7:30 but with the rain you’d never guess it. We’ll see how well and for how long we can cope. We’re not terribly worried but you can bet, Diana, we’ll be venturing down to Texas for a visit when we’re in need of some winter sunshine!

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