April 18, 2015

Missouri to an Oregonian

Dear Dad,

Remember in Eugene when you’d get those rare days in spring where, after dreary skies and an eternity of rain, the sun came blazing out in all it’s summer glory and no one came to class, not even professors because, well, the sun was shining! It’s that kid of day here in Portland. Unfortunately I’m no longer an undergraduate who can just skip a class now and then, and while it is my day off from work, I’m stuck inside studying cataloging, which, by the way, is not the kind of thing you want to do on a beautiful sunny day.

The western half of Oregon, as you know, is blessed (cursed?) with an abundance of rain. I actually don’t mind the rain. I’m not sure if it’s a gene passed down from our English roots or just the fact that I’ve spent more of my life in the rain than out of it that has made it, for the most part, a perfectly pleasant kind of environment to live in. It means that you spend a lot of time indoors or in raincoats, sure, but it also means that it’s green an lush almost all the year round.

Missouri, I know, is not like that. I remember when you first moved there, how you would describe the barren beauty of those months after the leaves fell, when you could see houses you didn’t know were there on hills that had been hidden by a swatch of deciduous trees. Coming from the land of evergreen forests, I didn’t really understand the appeal. Forests were dark and mysterious and hushed, any sounds deadened by the heavy curtain of pine and fur boughs. During our time living in Missouri, and then later all our trips to visit, the scenery has grown on me. It took a while for me to see it, because Oregon’s beauty is very in-your face – sumptuous and grand, but now I understand the feast or famine greenness of your state, the wonder of the world outside transforming from lush green to burn orange to stark brown as the seasons roll by.

Will and I once took Briton on a mountain bike ride, somewhere, I can’t remember where, not far from your house. It was fall and the trees were bursting with bright yellow leaves. The wind picked up, just a little, just enough to send a constant and steady fall of lemon colored leaves, drifting to the ground. Like snow. It went on and on, and we stood under it and just watched. It was, perhaps, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I still think about it. A part of me wishes I’d gotten a picture, but mostly I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m sure a photo wouldn’t have done the moment justice, and I’d rather have that memory in my head than the memory of watching through a viewfinder and a mediocre photo stored on my computer. Last fall, people here marvelled at the autumn colors changing and I kind of though "meh, I've seen better." Oregon does green better than it does red and orange and yellow.

According to my phone, Columbia and Portland will both be in the high 70’s and low 80’s this weekend. So far this year we’ve been consistently warmer than you, but in a few weeks I imagine you’ll outstrip us, heading toward your much hotter summer as Oregon dithers back and forth for a few more months about whether it’s spring or winter or summer, changing it's mind on a daily, if not hourly, basis. But for a brief moment in the year, we’ll both be spring this weekend. I’ll sit outside with my tea and think about you, enjoying your coffee on your deck. You’ll watch your hawk, I’ll fill up the hummingbird feeder, we should both probably do some yard work except, eh, it can wait.

Enjoy spring in Missouri Dad.