Portland is a shameless tease in the springtime.

For months, beginning in early November, it is Gray with a capitol Guh… gloomy and dark and shivery and wet – so, so very wet.  And we cower and grumble and curse the heavens and question our sanity for choosing to live in this God-forsaken oozing city.  It’s like living in a damp cotton ball.  Only the cotton ball sounds cozier.

Not that we don’t make the best of it.  We huddle fireside and read long books and knit sweaters and drink gallons of coffee.  We invest in Columbia jackets and waterproof backpacks and Wellies and a wardrobe of hats.  We learn to tolerate dripping.  We devote hours of our indoor hibernation writing artsy blogs and painting pretty pictures and coming up with neat ideas about green energy and bike lanes that we’ll frequent “when the sun comes out again.”  We use the phrase “when the sun comes out again” in the same way we’d whisper “When I get that great job” or “When the baby comes”… quietly, reverently, with a quick knock on wood to be sure we didn’t jinx anything.

But then…

There is a day.  One glorious, early, perfect day that is blue and pink and yellow and green and colors that haven’t even been invented until just then, on that perfect day.  We clamber out of our hovels in unruly lines and stand bare-armed and bare-footed in the glory that is sun and we revel.  We pulse.  We practically vibrate with the magical elixer of vitamin D and vibrant being.  We fall madly, irrevocably, passionately in love with Portland.  We want to kiss her and shower her with praise and feed her peeled grapes from our sunburned fingers.

But then…

The next morning they’re reporting record low temperatures.  We shiver in our itchy red skins.  We don our hats and Columbia jackets and Wellies and grimaces.  The tomatoes we planted optimistically the day before shrivel in the cold and collapse in on themselves and refuse to be revived.  The gray returns, and persists, for days, then weeks, then two weeks, then whoknowsbecausewe’retoodepressedtocountanyway.

But then…

There is another day.  And the celebration picks up exactly where it left off.  We dance in the sprinklers, having completely forgotten the misery of our plight.  We rejoice, because nothing has ever been so beautiful.

So the cycle continues, until eventually, though it seems to take lifetimes, there are more good days than gray days.  Two months later, we sit around and complain about how hot it is and how much we wish it would rain.  But if we’re smart, we do that complaining from the seats of our bikes or the top of a mountain or the cockpit of a kayak, because darnitalltoheck, we better not miss a single minute of sunshine.

Pray for us.

My beautiful friend Erin wrote a song on this subject.  She’s basically amazing.  Go watch her video!!!


  • Rachel May 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    VERY poetic and well-said, Karen! “and colors that haven’t even been invented until just then”

  • Allegra Villella May 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    SO true! Love this post 🙂