Beware

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.

sunset

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:

zombies

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.

blocks

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

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