THOSE BORN UNDER Pacific Northwest skies are like daffodils: they can achieve beauty only after a long, cold sulk in the rain. Henry, our mother, and I were Pacific Northwest babies. At the first patter of raindrops on the roof, a comfortable melancholy settled over the house. The three of us spent dark, wet days wrapped in old quilts, sitting and sighing at the watery sky. Viviane, with her acute gift for smell, could close her eyes and know the season just by the smell of the rain. Summer rain smelled like newly clipped grass, like mouths stained red with berry juice — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. It smelled like late nights spent pointing constellations out from their starry guises, freshly washed laundry drying outside on the line, like barbecues and stolen kisses in a 1932 Ford Coupe. The first of the many autumn rains smelled smoky, like a doused campsite fire, as if the ground itself had been aflame during those hot summer months. It smelled like burnt piles of collected leaves, the cough of a newly revived chimney, roasted chestnuts, the scent of a man’s hands after hours spent in a woodshop. Fall rain was not Viviane’s favorite. Rain in the winter smelled simply like ice, the cold air burning the tips of ears, cheeks, and eyelashes. Winter rain was for hiding in quilts and blankets, for tying woolen scarves around noses and mouths — the moisture of rasping breaths stinging chapped lips. The first bout of warm spring rain caused normally respectable women to pull off their stockings and run through muddy puddles alongside their children. Viviane was convinced it was due to the way the rain smelled: like the earth, tulip bulbs, and dahlia roots. It smelled like the mud along a riverbed, like if she opened her mouth wide enough, she could taste the minerals in the air. Viviane could feel the heat of the rain against her fingers when she pressed her hand to the ground after a storm. But in 1959, the year Henry and I turned fifteen, those warm spring rains never arrived. March came and went without a single drop falling from the sky. The air that month smelled dry and flat. Viviane would wake up in the morning unsure of where she was or what she should be doing. Did the wash need to be hung on the line? Was there firewood to be brought in from the woodshed and stacked on the back porch? Even nature seemed confused. When the rains didn’t appear, the daffodil bulbs dried to dust in their beds of mulch and soil. The trees remained leafless, and the squirrels, without acorns to feed on and with nests to build, ran in confused circles below the bare limbs. The only person who seemed unfazed by the disappearance of the rain was my grandmother. Emilienne was not a Pacific Northwest baby nor a daffodil. Emilienne was more like a petunia. She needed the water but could do without the puddles and wet feet. She didn’t have any desire to ponder the gray skies. She found all the rain to be a bit of an inconvenience, to be honest.