I’m happy to say that our terrible Indian Summer (a phrase, by the way, that Native Americans must resent) here in Seattle in finally over. Throughout August and September and into October (!) the sky was a boring, featureless blue, the air was balmy, and people were saying, ‘If we wanted this crap we would’ve stayed in San Diego.” Now, however, Seattle is back. The sky has returned to its default color, varying from yogurt to dust bunny, and the background audio is once again the tip-tap of raindrops on foliage, every miniute of every day. That means that the 2013 Seattle Rain Festival is about to kick off and are we pumped! If you’ve never been to the SRF, you’ve got a treat coming—it’s like Burning Man except without the loud music and instead of naked girls morose Swedes dressed in layers. So hurry on down! It only lasts until July. As a foretaste, here’s my report on last year's event.
As usual, the thrills begin at the festival center, five acres of glistening asphalt, which we enter under an arch announcing this year's theme: "Seattle: The City Phlegmatic." We pass by Lars Eric Nilson's heroic bronze of the Norwegian carpenter, officially titled "Man Who Left His 3/8th Drill on the Truck," which symbolizes the limited horizons that mean so much to this city. Beyond, we see through the showers what must be one of the supreme examples of the art of flat-roof concrete-block stucco architecture anywhere in the world, the famous Rectangle Building. Let's go in!
In the center ring, we're just in time for the slime mold judging. Iridescent life forms writhe on their "logs" while their nervous owners make last minute primps. The slime mold is not only the state bird of Washington--it's a local mascot as well. Nearly everybody owns one or two, but these here are not your common basement lurkers. No, these are true aristocrats of the myxomycete world, trained not to move or make a sound despite the most intense prodding. Here come the judges--the throng holds its breath--and the blue ribbon goes to Mrs. Irma D. Christiansen of Enumclaw for her fine gray-green Lycogala bitch, Ch. Rum-bum Altair Domino III. Way to go, Irma!
Next, we head for the gallery area, where we take in the fascinating exhibit, A Century of Galoshes, and move on to The World of Rain, in which different kinds of raindrops are preserved in lucite. A continuous video show—Our Fogs--delights the eye, and we marvel at Old Mingo, at 29.7 pounds the largest raindrop ever recorded. And it fell right here in Seattle, in 1957! To my mind, however, the most endearing feature here is the Kiddie Park, where children born after the beginning of the festival, and who have thus never seen the sun, are shown photos of the solar orb and allowed to stand for a few seconds under a sunlamp, just enough to raise a few blisters. What fun they have spraying one another with Solarcaine! And other kids are poking fingers into this year’s special guest mascot, the Pillsbury Doughboy. Nice tan, dude!
Of course, the climax of the festival is attained on Derby Day, when racing banana slugs from all over converge on the Dixie Lee Ray Memorial Track in Tukwila. (For those not in the know, Tukwila, The Queen City of Apple Maggot Quarantine Area #7, is located some ten miles south of Seattle and is famous for having more motel rooms under $25 than all but seven other US cities.) We had intended to race our blue-spot mare "Penny" this year, but she bruised a slime gland on a bit of ornamental ironwork and went lame. Nevertheless, it was a thrill to sit in the stands, chomping on the track's special gray weiners, chugging on a Rainier Beer, Seattle’s beloved Green Death, and watch the noble molluscs tear around the wooden oval. The track this year was well-mucoused and quite fast. The favorite, Degoutant, having been scratched (it failed a slime test) the palm went to a fleet two-year-old, Slubbergullion, who finished in the astonishing time of 8 hours, 20 minutes, 4 seconds, paying $14.50.As the crowd left the old wood-bowl for another year, sad but happy, sorry to see the old festival fade away but taking comfort in the fact that the next one starts in a mere sixty days. Hope to see you there!.