Whenever I tell someone where I’m from, the response is always predictable, and always about the rain. Nevermind that Seattle gets less annual precipitation than New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, or Washington DC – people know one thing about Seattle, and that thing is rain.
Furthermore, the banal comment always insinuates that the rain is negative, e.g. ‘Why would you want to live there?’ ‘Doesn’t it just make you want to kill yourself?’ ‘Dentists in Seattle must have it pretty rough! :)’
Don’t be that person.
I’m here to suggest an alternative, courtesy of one John Nelson. Last week, Nelson published a historical map of wildfires in the United States using data collected by NASA satellites:
On a stark black background, complete with topographic features, the map shows not only where fires have burned between 2001 and July 2012, but also shows their intensity, veering from a wash of purplish dots for the smallest fires, up through stipples of red and smears of searing yellow for the mightiest blazes.
Without further ado, here’s the map he created:
You can click on the above image to get an up-close view of your favorite part of the country, but I would like to first draw your attention to the Northwest corner of that map, and more specifically to Western Washington (as it extends right up to the Cascade Mountain range):
Have you ever seen something so big, black, and beautiful? (Don’t answer that.) Certainly not anywhere else on this map.
So next time you meet someone from Seattle, instead of blurting out the first thing that pops into your head, instead try something like, “Isn’t that the place constantly besieged by wildfires?’, or “Is it true Seattle has no wildfires because Weyerhaeuser already cut down all the trees?” or “That’s the place where it rains so much Smoky the Bear went out of business!”
“Do you know Mordechai Treiger?” is also an acceptable salutation.