WEST END NEIGHBOR: West Enders endure the rain and the dark

TO LIVE ON the West End, one has to come to grips with the rain.

According to the U.S. climate data website, Forks has an annual average rainfall of 119.73 inches compared to Port Angeles, which has 25.68 inches of annual rainfall.

Yet, nobody out here seems to use an umbrella. In fact, someone holding an umbrella is almost a sure sign of a tourist or visitor.

Personally, I have known and talked to many people who have moved here because of the abundant natural beauty found in the forests, rivers and beaches.

A fair number of them stay for a couple of years then move on because the dark, wet winters are a bit much for them to handle.

Those people that do stay, whether born here or not, develop an understanding of the sometimes long, and almost always, wet winters.

Arlo Amsdill is self-described “country folk” and lives on the upper Bogachiel River in the western portion of Jefferson County.

He said, “I’ve lived here for 60 years and the rain never gets to me.”

Amsdill explained that he loves the lush, natural beauty of the area and that beauty is only possible because of the prodigious rainfall.

“I live in the rainforest and I love it just like I love listening to the rain on my tin roof at night,” he said.

“There are no downsides.”

The Forks Forum’s “Grins and Gripes” section has complaints about the rain every winter, so apparently not everyone feels as Amsdill does.

Jokes about webbed feet and trading cars for boats are tossed around at checkout lines and gas pumps.

Steelhead fisherpeople are watching the rivers, waiting for them to turn that perfect green color that brings those coveted “steelies” out of the Pacific.

Drainholes for car sunroofs begin to gargle, clog and finally drench vehicle interiors because they can’t keep up with the inundation.

Sometimes, West Enders can’t even remember the last time they actually saw the sun.

“I think the last time I saw the sun was very briefly between downpours last week,” said Sandra Velasquez. She was only half joking.

Velasquez has lived in Forks since she was 5 in 1979.

I spoke with her as we both stood in a parking lot during a rain shower.

Eden Cisneros has lived in Forks all of his 17 years. He is a junior at Forks High School and also crafts sandwiches at Subway.

Cisneros said, “I don’t pay too much attention to the rain except when the coaches won’t let us run for wrestling practice because it is raining too hard.”

He explained the rain can give quite a chill when sweating through a practice.

Cisneros said nobody who comes in to get sandwiches complains about the rain, either.

People of the West End don’t generally use the word “shower” to describe the rain.

Rain is usually “light,” like a mist with attitude; or “hard,” to say the puddles are widening by the second.

Of course, there is the rain with expletives attached to it.

That kind of precipitation brings the river edges into the big trees and turns the rivers the color of frothy hot chocolate.

Liquid sunshine is cute rain that comes with a blue sky, and anybody who works in the forest on a mountainside will tell you Forest Gump was right, there is rain that comes straight up.

Sunday evening, the rain clouds parted and the sky was fairly light from the glow of the sun.

However, nobody in Forks actually saw the glowing orb because it fell too low before the clouds withdrew.

_________

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina [email protected], or call her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be Dec. 12.

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