water-door1

The rains are back. The mornings are dark and gray. I can allow the rain in November. It’s a compliment to cozy fires, good books, hot tea and conversation with friends. The sound of it hitting the roof and spilling against the windows sends me to the kitchen with a taste for soup, homemade bread and apple crisp.

But not everyone can do an Oregon winter, as evidenced by our neighbors to the south. When we’ve made it to the end of May and it’s still raining, flood waters overfilling the streets, the people from California who bought homes with bulging pocketbooks go screaming into real estate offices begging to be released. Sell, sell, sell, they shriek, I don’t care what it takes, I don’t care how much money I lose, just get me out of here. Others jump off bridges, take up drinking, sign themselves into mental hospitals or come to see me.

If you travel you can make it through. If you’re buried in work you can make it through. If you’re young and go skiing every week-end you can make it through, or if you have the capacity to take those few unexpected sun-filled days that surprise us in February and March and put them into your bones and memory, you can make it through. But if you have festering doubts, become unemployed, or have unresolved emotions – look out. Add a week or two of winter virus and the sugar diet of holidays and you could crack like an egg.

When spring comes most Oregonians are privately unsettled, not quite sure how to relate. We wait for its appearance like a Messiah, we think about it like an unfinished love affair, but when the sun actually appears, there are moments of confusion. What exactly does a person do in good weather? Where exactly do they go? Memory returns and we burst from our homes like prisoners, eager to dig in the dirt, raft the rivers and store warmth in winter bones. A person has to live up to sunny days. There are expectations to be out and about. There is much less guilt about watching a film or taking a nap when winter rains pound the door.

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