April showers bring – May showers – and April flowers. The region’s reputation for rain misleads many people. Some don’t get past that reputation, and don’t even visit. Others prepare themselves for a wet world by buying lots of gear and clothing. Locals know it is simpler than that. A little weather awareness, some subtle clothing choices, and a relaxed attitude can overcome hurdles that turn out to be easy to enough to step across – as long as you’re wearing the right shoes, too.
Forget (mostly) about monsoons, cloudbursts, and deluges. We do get events like the Pineapple Express and spent cyclones that wander in from the Pacific; but much of Whidbey’s rain is a drizzly nuisance instead of a soaking disaster. Drizzles, mists, heavy fog, make up much of the rainfall totals, not because they are very wet but because they are very persistent. Seattle only ranks #37 in rainfall within the US, ah, but check the time the skies are overcast and watch about a month’s extra time under cloud compared to much of the country.
The icon for rain is an umbrella. Sidewalks should be clogged with them, each dripping onto its neighbor, water trickling down to drop on other pedestrians, those little ribs possibly poking people in the ear or worse. They’re around. People use them; but they’re frequently more trouble than they are worth. If everyone used them it would be tough to walk down the street, find a place to let them dry, and store them. Bring on a fluke of wind and pop it goes, from water diverter to water collector. Of course, if your hair must be perfectly coiffed, then show it off. Don’t be surprised to find that you’re alone.
If you’re hair doesn’t have to be perfect, look around and see how many heads are covered in hats and hoods. Easy on, easy off; less intrusive than umbrellas; less likely to be permanently bent by the wind; and useful as shade on sunny days. Sunny days do happen, really.
Raincoats and trenchcoats, the stereotypical attire for spies and nefarious characters. Full- or three-quarter length, they protect the rest of the body. Umbrellas are really just for heads and hair. If you’re going to be styling, go ahead and get that bespoke cover for suits or dresses; but that’s attire for downtown Seattle. Wear a tie on Whidbey and folks will guess you just came in on the boat, the ferry boat, that is; and that you’re likely to leave by dinner.
More useful raincoats have labels like North Face or Helly Hansen. Why buy yet another coat when your ski, hiking, or sailing gear is designed more for function than style? If they can keep you dry and warm in the mountains or during an off-shore race, they can certainly keep you comfortable in the walk from your car to a shop. Besides, your gear wear acts as an introduction to others with the same activities.
The people who truly understand how to stand in the rain are the people who work in the rain. Don’t be surprised to find entire wardrobes of Carhartt coats, jackets, overalls, shirts, and pants. They may be too heavy and bulky to put in a backpack or bump around in on a boat, but they do the job as people do their jobs. Definitely a choice for the more casual set.
If all of that is too much to think about, check out what most people are wearing: layers. Wear enough layers and adjustments can be made throughout the day. Even if they aren’t waterproof or made of a modern fabric, it can take a long time for a nuisance drizzle to work its way past a jacket, or a wool sweater, and maybe a turtleneck or a shirt.
Feet, however, have a harder time avoiding the issue. Puddles, puddles, puddles, and then a splash. While rain boots are popular, so are sandals with socks. Rain boots mean bold steps through the water that’s working its way to the shore. One source of splashes. Sandals and socks sound silly. They’re jokes on the national talk shows, but people use them because they work – in a different way. Step one: don’t step in puddles or streams. That’s not too hard for most adults. “Don’t your feet get wet?” Sure. Usually not very, and they dry out, too. Besides, whether its boots or sandals, either makes it easier to have fun with an impromptu visit to the beach.
Adults think these things through. Kids don’t. And, they don’t seem to care. Kids born and raised here are likely to play outside regardless. Play is more important than propriety when you’re ten. Take a lesson from the children. Relax and enjoy it. It may be rain but you’ll dry off. It’s only water.