Nothing new this week, but here's an interview I did on business and capitalism that went up last week on the Institute for Washington's Future and a newsletter reprint from December, 2017.
How to love the sky in winter
Here is my hypothesis: it isn’t the gray that makes our winters feel oppressive, it’s our built environment. If you spend your days working in an office from dark to dark, or tucked away in your house, hiding from the rain, these short, wet days are grim indeed. And when the sky presses low, as the asphalt presses up, and the walls of brick and stone and wood close in from all sides, I too feel trapped. But that, I think, is the fault of the asphalt and walls, and not the sky.
On wild winter days, when the wind blows hard and the rain comes down sideways and the damp cold slides deep into you and settles there to wait for spring, the city is a miserable place to be. But go out walking on the beach, along the dark strip of pebbles between seaweed and driftwood. Turn up your collar and lean into the wind till your eyes tear and your cheeks flush. Breath in the cold and brine. The sea is violent and alive, white caps racing for shore. The beach is strewn with treasures. Or trash. Bring a bag to collect the storm’s flotsam, whatever it may be.
And when the storm lifts, and the clouds race over you—altocumulus over cumulus, and the brief glimpse of the cirrus high above—those are the days for open spaces. The brown, stubbled fields of the Skagit Flats have their own, subtle beauty in winter, and above them, the sky is wide and bright, even on an overcast day.
But best of all are the low, gray days with their steady rain. In the city, the nimbostratus is a dull blanket, the rain inexhaustible and exhausting. But go out walking in the woods. Find old woods, if you can, with Douglas firs and red cedars wider than your outstretched arms, and an open understory. Layer up with wool and leave your rain coat behind. It’s hardly raining under the trees, more a dripping mist, and the plastic is loud. Without it, you can hear the forest: rain hitting the leaves of sword ferns, the wind breathing through the trees, and off and above, a raven chuckling. The low clouds catch on the hills and treetops, pooling and whisping away. If you stand still, in just the right place, you might even have a moment alone with the forest, no freeway rumble or flyover, no stereo boom or human voices, just the wind and rain moving over the landscape, and the quiet sound of your own breathing.
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