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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The do-nothing Arctic summer

Hoh River: The silver lining above
By now I think we've all had it up to here with people who complain about the weather. This has been a wet summer. 
The locals used to say “if you don't like the weather, go back to where you came from,“ except in this case it's mostly the locals doing the complaining. Meanwhile visiting foreigners, Californians, New Yorkers and such, think our weather is a tree-shaded paradise on earth where you can sit outside at night without melting into a puddle of sweat on the pavement. Many tourists have come here to escape a national heat wave that's turning our bread basket into a dust bowl.
“Got rain gear?” I ask the tourists just to mess with them. It's a shock to victims of heat prostration, dehydration and other medical terms I can't pronounce. Rain gear is the last thing tourists think of when they visit the rainforest. 
Some tourists mistakenly think they have rain gear. Usually it's a thin plastic poncho that gets ripped when you try to put it on. 
Around here if ain't rubberized, it ain't rain gear. That doesn't mean you won't get wet if you have good rain gear. If you move at all you're going to sweat inside a rubber suit. The fact is you are going to get wet. 
The trick is not to care. Just remember that you are mostly water. Experts tell us to drink eight glasses of the stuff a day but who has time? It's much easier to just get rained on and soak the minimum daily requiment through your hide.
Rain is good for you in many ways that researchers are only beginning to explore.
There's no finer example of the healing, restorative qualities of our damp climate than to drive through a flooded campground full of soggy tourists early some morning after a heavy downpour. 
A night in a leaky tent can transform heat stroke patients into hypothermia victims. This can heal relationships by drawing people in the pits of a vacation grudge, closer to the fire in an attempt to get warm. 
Inevitably, the tourists decide they can't take the rain any more. They return to their sun- baked existence with a new appreciation for sweltering, enabling us to accomplish one of the major goals of the tourist industry, getting them to leave.
Incredibly, people who live here sometimes complain about the rain. They say it's been raining so hard “you can't do nothing.” Not true. 
When it's raining too hard to mow the lawn, weed the garden or unclog the septic tank it's a perfect time to do nothing. The fact is that in our modern society of labor-saving this and time-saving that, we often don't have time to do nothing. This is unfortunate. 
Scientists are only now discovering the health benefits of doing nothing. Studies have shown it can lower your heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. It's a good way to avoid exposure to the sun's harmful rays. 
Nobody ever heard of anyone getting a fog-burn or having a suspicious growth cut out because it was raining, no. 
The rain tends to keep people safely indoors doing nothing. It does not require energy which makes doing nothing an affordable, sustainable, environmentally responsible activity the whole family can enjoy. Even better, our politicians haven't dreamed up a permit for doing nothing. 
Not yet.
Every cloud has a silver lining and the rain gives us all a chance to do nothing. If you do nothing else this summer join the millions of others who are already doing nothing. 
There's nothing like it.

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