With sunny, hot weather now and the coldest spring in memory starting to fade into the past, local media ramped up its predictable gloom-and-doom coverage of sunshine. The Saturday, June 28, edition of The Seattle Times carried a classic of the genre: "Sun isn't always good news," blared the headline previewing the first warm weekend of summer.
The trend is familiar, as I pointed out in my story in May, "Death by Sun, Film at 11." Seattleites yearn for the rays, but when they come, the media find the downside. It's often masked as a public service message listing all the calamities that can come from having a good time: drowning, hiking accidents, drunken boaters — oh, my!
The Times pieces was in the top position on their front Web page. It surveyed the downside of summer. My favorite quote was from reliable quotee Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Office. A lovely hot day? "They call it a good day for a drowning," he said. Such is the view through the jaded eye of law enforcement.
He's not the only Eeyore in town.
The Times managed to find someone who was both poor and depressed to give them a quote about summer. To wit:
"I have no money, so I can't do anything," said Christie Ross sadly as she waited in the sunshine for her bus to North Seattle on Friday.
"I don't get paid 'til next week, so I'll probably stay inside and watch TV."
I have no problem with Christie staying indoors to watch infomercials all weekend, but don't use poverty as an excuse. Sunny weather is free, and a bus trip to a city beach is $1.50.
Another example of heliophobia was expressed by Ballard resident Chelsea Culver:
"I'm afraid it will get too hot," said the Northwest native, who prefers temperatures in the high 60s. "In true Ballard fashion, I'm a little picky about my weather."
The folks at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer seemed a little more sanguine about summer. Their "summer's here" story was positively chipper: "Finally you can put away the hats and gloves and get used to the sound of flip-flops."
Why the smiley face? One theory: Perhaps the sunnier attitude under the globe is because their owner, Hearst, is in better shape than the Times owners, the local Blethen family. With major layoffs, unhappy lenders, and papers in Maine they're having trouble unloading — what's been described as a "tightening noose," morale at Fairview Fannie might not be improved with mere sunny days.
More likely, though, it's simply business as usual. Fear, depression, death: It's summer in Seattle.