What is a “native Pacific Northwesterner” ? How is one defined as being a true native of the “Upper Left”?
Sitting down to an easy, relaxing, and surprisingly sunny Seattle Saturday on Alki Beach last weekend, the answer came in the form of an interesting perspective by the Seattle Times‘ satirist-in-residence Ron Judd in his Pacific Northwest magazine article titled “If you weren’t born in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll never be one of us“. I do hope I got his “satirist” title correct, because there’s a few details I need cleared up.
But let’s put all that aside for the true point of the piece which is “if you aren’t a native-born Seattleite or Puget Sounder, you’ll never be one of us, or understand what we’re about.” I know more than a few of whom he referred to as “encroachers” who fit the bill than many who were born and raised here. People move here from all over the country and the world to take advantage of the rainy months, take pleasure in walking to work in galoshes, hiking the surrounding mountains, or fishing their brains out in the various rivers every weekend. In turn, I also know more than a few (many, in fact) native-born and bred Pacific Northwesterners who have a fit when their hair gets wet going to work.
By now, I’m pretty sure you get my point; while I didn’t grow up in Birkenstocks and wading boots, I AM one of you, a true-blue Pacific Northwesterner whether Ron Judd can handle it or not. I simply grew up in the wheat fields and am very much the outdoorsy type. I just did my thing on the other side of the Cascades.
Even his list of characteristics of this region’s inhabitants toward the end got me between the eyes. While I do enjoy the wintry rain and soggy gray clouds in January, get a load of the title for a particular section: “The heat, my God, the heat.” REALLY?? You’re complaining about the HEAT during a Seattle summer?? If you can’t handle the exquisitely warm offerings of a Seattle summer, get ready for heat stroke if you ever visit anywhere else in the country; specifically the Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, or the brutal Southeast regions. You won’t survive.
In addition, when you claimed we “merely tolerate, rather than enjoy” summers here in Western Washington, you were on drugs, right? You can be honest, Ron. Point of fact, I cannot think of a single person I know who avoids the warm rays of the sun until fall rears its head. When the sun shines its glorious orb to the Northern Hemisphere the natives come out of the woodwork.
Was Ron Judd speaking for every Pacific Northwesterner? I’m sure some individuals who just want to make noise would agree. But even people in the same cultural regions have different views of themselves, different preferences. That is, in fact, what makes Seattle and Western Washington so special to begin with; the diverse ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. It’s the reason I moved here, and it’s the reason I’ve stayed.