In a city full of dichotomies, it is fitting that a music festival named "Bumbershoot" (aka "umbrella") would be held outdoors, in the rainiest city of them all, Seattle. This is a city where people wear socks with sandals, sweatshirts with shorts, flip flops in the snow. Bumbershoot, like Seattleites, laughs in the face of bad weather and embraces it with a steely nonchalance that one only finds in the Northwest.
However, in reality you will not see many "bumbershoots" gracing the streets on any given rainy day, as an umbrella is seen as a sign of weakness, or an easy way to spot a tourist. The same goes for rain boots, or any excessive preparation for bad weather. Northwest natives develop ambivalence toward life's uncertainties, hoping for sun but expecting the rain. We are weather warriors, having been polished from rocks into gems by years of torrential downpour. When the sun finally emerges it is a cause for frantic celebration, for we know that tomorrow it may be gone, and our sunburns are red badges of courage from appreciating the transience of summer.
This is my reluctant ode to the city that raised me. After spending a year working outdoors in the Sunbelt of the United States, I have become acclimatized to the heat, and returning to my hometown was a difficult adjustment that continues to frustrate me. The weather gives you a permanent reason to complain, if you want one, and an understandable excuse for bad humor, if you need one. However, despite the melancholy, and no matter what sunny paradise I visit, or how long I am gone, I always seem to make it back to this city. I can't explain why a rainstorm or a coffee shop makes me homesick, or the feeling of riding the light rail home from the airport, watching the sparkling city skyline rise triumphantly into view over I-90.
It is difficult express to outsiders what makes our city great, and I blame local businesses for failing to effectively exploit or engender Seattle pride. Let us make T-shirts and paraphernalia that express our state's real character. There are many things to be proud of: Seattle provides us with built-in protection from harmful UV rays, while Florida leaves its citizens at the mercy of premature aging. Seattle is so clean because it takes a shower almost every day. California, with all its pride, does seem to have the same standards of hygiene. Furthermore, Seattle probably has the highest Prius-to-Suburban ratio in the country. "Everything's bigger in Texas?" Well, everything's shinier in Seattle. "The Big Apple?" Call us the Big Water-melon. It is not about arrogance, it is about unity.
The Bumbershoot festival, with all the music lovers standing out in the rain, clad in ponchos and hoods, swaying their Starbucks cups to the beat, symbolizes Seattle's character. We are wet and cold, strong and resilient. We are hearty Northwest stock, sprouting from flooded gardens, and we aren't going to let a little drizzle keep us indoors. Brave Seattleites, if you love your town, throw up your bumbershoots, wave your Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps in the air, and be proud to be from the Emerald City.[[In-content Ad]]