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Pins And Needles: A Puget Sounder

...I sense a subtle bond among those of us who inhale a life time of briny northwest air: as though this has given us an attitude outsiders just donít understand...

Gloria MacKay is provincial and proud of it, delighted to be living in the USA's Pacific North West. Her enticing words will make you wish that you too had been born a Puget Sounder.

I am as provincial as a duck on a pond. I have lived all my life in the northwest corner of Washington, the most northwesterly state in America; I donít know how it feels to come here from somewhere else.

Needless to say, I love living here or I would be someplace else, by now. One reason I donít want to leave is because we Puget Sounders (the many-fingered body of water drifting in from the Pacific Ocean) seem more closely connected than folks who live in Kansas, for example, or southern California, or the Beltway (the elitist circle skirting Washington D.C. our national capital.)) I sense a subtle bond among those of us who inhale a life time of briny northwest air: as though this has given us an attitude outsiders just donít understand.

The rest of the country treats us as though we are stuck up here against our will, moping in the corner like kids in time out. Nothing about the way we live gets much respect. Take sports. If itís sunny in Seattle on game day, network announcers make a big deal about it, like they canít believe their good fortune. They point out our city doesnít look too bad, after all, with sails billowing on the lake and ferries chugging across the sound and spiky snow-topped mountains framing the sky. Broadcasters speak as though theyíve never heard of our players or our coaches, and praise, instead, the opponents who always are always from the elite eastern seaboard, the invincible midwest or a flashy bunch from the south. And when our teams win itís always a fluke, a surprise, an occasion of national amazement and even amusement.

People on the east coast (back east as we say) actually regard us as savages, children, whose dripping noses press against the windows of the civilized world. They make fun of anyone who would camp out, for instance, when thereís a hotel just up the road; climb in a boat that doesnít come equipped with a captain; picnic until drizzle turns in to deluge. They chuckle that we donít have enough sense to come in out of the rain. Thatís us, all right. Thatís how we do it up here, all the time. Head for the hills, head for the water, head for the park, come rain or come shine.

And this is my point. People donít get what weíre about and their disdain draws us together. I sense a regional bonding among us, a subtle sharing of a secret. Let them all treat us like underdogs. It doesnít bother us a bit, because we know it is the underdog who gets the worm (or slug, as the case may be).

For instance, we get laughed at because of our rain (which, incidentally is less than in Boston or Washington D.C. or New Orleans although we like to keep this information under our umbrellas.) But even when it does rain I can think of no better way to spend a three-day weekend than in the northwest in the rain. The days and nights do stretch on and on and on. It is so hard to tell the gray of the morning from the black of the night that we donít even know what time it is. Isnít this what a holiday is all about?

I dawdled through a long weekend recently in just this fashion. Rain misted and cascaded and pelted and blew like an unfinished symphony. Every now and then the downpour would cease like an interrupted drum roll. The surprise of silence sprung me from my chair and on to my patio. I fertilized the fuchsias, whether they needed it or not. I couldnít tell. Their branches were bending over backwards in the rain, dripping raindrops off my hair and down my back. Talk about feeling alive!

Surrounded as we are by the surge of the tides, the thunder of jet airplanes and the beat of coffee in our veins, it is surprising that we are not a community of jaywalking, horn-honking maniacs, but not so. Quite the opposite. Compared to other parts of the country, we locals are pretty laid back, painstakingly honest, excruciatingly courteous and disgustingly unpretentious, at least this is what those slick magazines from back east say.

No worries. That's okay. We do it our way.


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