Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Miss This

While visiting in Oregon, I tried to just soak up the surrounding beauty. Living in Michigan, I've come to appreciate the natural beauty here as well, but it just has nothing on Oregon.

Oregon (and Washington as well, where some of these photos were taken) is downright spectacular. Even in the middle of winter! That's what really astounds me. Here, everything turns completely brown and gray and stays that way for 5 months. Oregon only changes it's shade of green for the winter. I mentioned this to my Mom, and she hadn't noticed. She thought it was all dull and brown. Goes to show how fabulous the rest of the year is around there.

Granted, it rains almost non-stop for 6 straight months out there... but it's because of the rain that the grass stays green, ferns live on, and everything is covered in moss and lichen.

While I was out there, I recalled that my despisal of winter is a fairly recent development. I didn't hate the winter when I lived in Oregon. It was annoying, maybe, but completely tolerable. We treated the week or two of bitter cold each winter as a little adventure and something to complain about with our neighbors. Oh, how "hardy" we were, chipping ice on the water troughs and needing to put on a warm hat to go outside. And the for the rest of the winter we just whined about the rain and we rejoiced when the bulbs started showing green in February.

Spending a winter commuting daily to downtown Chicago on trains taught me what winter is really about. Michigan winters (and this is only southern Michigan! Don't even talk to me about the Upper Peninsula...) holed up in a drafty, old farmhouse taught me even more.

We get sunshine, sure.
Dazzling on the fresh snow, but deceptively cold.
Blue skies after the hard wind blows the storms over.

But is there a version of Seasonal Affective Disorder which is brought on by lack of the color green? 'Cause that might be my main affliction, right along with intolerance to cold. Oh, and being stuck in the house all the time. I can hardly even make myself go out and take a walk.

And when I gripe to other Midwesterners about my loathing of winter, I usually get laughed at. This is the time when you wear sweaters (and then some) and drink lots of hot tea, I'm told. Sure-- that's all fine for the first month, or two... but what about the other three? By March, I'm pretty much a basket case. What's my problem?

Well, I was spoiled, that's what. Spoiled by the Pacific Northwest.


  1. Funny... after being in South America so long, I was depressed by the gloomy Oregon weather, and thought non stop about how much I didn't want to end up back there.
    Everything is relative, I guess.

  2. i've only been to oregon twice, for short periods of time, but i dream about it. all that green. everywhere you look there is something beautiful, up, down, all around. i love the pacific nw. love it.

  3. You know I totally understand this. Having been born and raised in California. What people don't realize is that there are a lot of beautiful states in the good ol USA. I think you would love the south, it's very affordable and from fall to summer we have basically the same weather as the west coast. We have our heat but it accompanied by the greenest green you have ever seen.
    When I fist moved here it was all I could talk about. Every time we went for a car ride, "HAVE YOU EVER IN YOUR LIFE SEEN SUCH GREEN GREEN? Maybe in Ireland.
    We do also grow some whoop ass bugs but ya know nothin is perfect this side of heaven.

    Is yer tummy poppin yet?

  4. I understand what you're talking about, even though I only put up with it for two and a half winters before coming back to the NW coast. I was very irritated, though, since the two winters right after I came back were snowy and elongated; exactly what I thought I'd left behind.

    One thing I noticed, and it still makes me laugh, is that when two people from WA (or OR) meet out of state, everyone else rolls their eyes, because all us PNW-ers can talk about is how beautiful the states we came from are.