Foul Weather Bluff. Misery Point. Pysht. (Derived from the Chinook word meaning “Where the wind blows in all directions”). Foreboding names given by pioneers more than a century ago to places near where I live. Most likely given in the third month, when upon battling the elements through December, January, February of their first Pacific Northwest winter, they assumed incorrectly that the promise of March would bring some measure of respite. Things haven’t changed much.
After a series of hard freezes in February left the garden hanging on to life by a thread in our usually mild, but gray sunless seven month winters, the March monsoons have arrived on schedule and are enthusiastically drowning anything that isn’t moss or fern. The ground having long ago reached its capacity to absorb, the water table stands at about eight inches above ground level.
Believe it or not, I’ve lived in wetter climates. New Orleans in the summer easily out performed us here in the northwest on an inches per day basis, and given the flatness of the terrain an hour of steady rain would leave you equally ankle deep as I am when I step out of my home near Seattle. The difference, and it is an important one, is that after a steady hard rain of an hour or so it would stop, and the water would then drain away leaving your surroundings pretty much as they were prior to the deluge. Not so here where rain is measured not in inches but in the days or weeks since you were able to visibly discern where the clouds stop and the ground starts. Also it was eighty degrees. I can’t emphasize that last point enough in comparing living in the region of a tropical rain forest as opposed to being in proximity of a temperate one as we have here in the Pacific Northwest.
Small towns in Louisiana as equally soaked by the elements as those named at the top of this post were given names by their early inhabitants such as Waterproof, Delight, and Happy Jack. Signs of irrational optimism?…or something else. Southerners are often assumed by those north of the Mason-Dixon as being less than intelligent. Less than themselves anyway. When Horace Greeley advised the immigrant masses of the 19th century to “Go West Young Man” in search of their destinies, perhaps the smart ones put their finger to the wind and feeling a warm breeze from the south, headed that way instead.