A Dozen Reasons Why Jean Loves Living in Oregon

 

June 2014

My Stories

Granner

Putting on the Ritz

Granada and Sevilla

Amsterdam

Tuscany and Umbria - 1

Tuscany and Umbria - 2

Driving in England

Dwelling in England

A Dozens Reasons

In the Hamam

Istanbul Greece Diary

Pearl Harbor Team

Old Girl

Paris

Provence

Grandpa's Cabin

Pay-It-Forward Latte

England and France

N. Italy - 1

N. Italy - 2

N. Italy - 3

N. Italy - 4

Lessons from 4 Corners

Mexico

Going to the Dogs

Don't Embarrass Me!

Letter from Siena

Arrivederci Roma

Joining the Matriarchs

Living History

Newlywed Game

Chaos Theory

Zach on the Road

Huckleberry Season

Stanley & the Sunbeam

I Dare Say

Middle School Relay

Grad Party

Yellowstone

Moving On

Newlywed Couches

Visitors

Old Faithful Inn

Snowbound

Sweet Potato

Mother Bear

Two Blondes in Iberia

Revisiting Spain

Curly's Truck

Old Buildings

Chelsea's

Split Seams

All Nighter

Talent Show

After a spectacular spring, high humidity has hit western Oregon.  Instead of getting grumpy, I feel grateful that we rarely suffer such stickiness. 


And I started thinking about what I love most about Oregon. 


1.  GREEN:  Whenever I fly into Portland airport, I experience a rush of thankfulness that I get to live in such beauty.  I press my nose to the plane’s window to absorb the mountains, rivers and lush forests.  I feel pride and joy that this is my home.  Then at the airport, I wallow in wide corridors, huge windows, live music, and local restaurants--that by law don’t have jacked-up prices.


2.  DRIVING:  Rarely do you hear an Oregonian honk in anger.  We generally reserve the horn for signaling other drivers of potential danger, like the family of deer waiting to cross the highway.  We tend to obey speed limits and avoid tail-gating.  This sometimes causes out-of-staters to criticize our driving as “slow.”  We call it safe.  And polite.


3.  BERRIES:  Our strawberries have no equal in the world.  They are red gems with sweetness and juiciness throughout.  (Our neighbors to the south have bigger berries that look great and transport for days, but inside they’re often white and dry.)  In August you can pick your fill of delicious wild and free blackberries.  (New-comers are often unwittingly thrilled to discover blackberry bushes in their back yards.  You want such bushes in the park, not your backyard.)


4.  LOCATION:  I can drive to the big city, coast or mountains in about an hour each.  We can attend my niece’s opera in Portland on Saturday, play with our dog Bailey on a Lincoln City beach on Sunday, and hike the old-growth forest of Opal Creek on Monday.


5.  HIPPIES:  You may or may not agree with all of their politics, but most Oregonians embrace the hippie community.  With few exceptions, our hippies are kind, gentle and loving folk.  I enjoy hanging around them.  And ours are the real deal, not wannabes.


6.  SUMMER:  Is there any place more pleasant than Oregon in the summer?  Sometimes I think we’re insane to ever cross the state line between late June and mid-October.


7.  SCHOOLS:  For the most part, our schools are pretty good.  Normally people place their children in private or specialized schools for religious or special-needs reasons only.


8.  RAIN:  Okay, I’ll say it--I love the rain.  It keeps our landscape green, fresh and clean.  True Oregonians develop web-feet and don’t grow weary of the wet until springtime.  Plus a good rainstorm sends us inside during the winter months to read and drink coffee, something we do a whole lot of, which is fine by me.  Finally, it keeps our state from getting too crowded.  So, if you can’t handle the rain, by all means, move elsewhere!


9.  TAP WATER:  During our Air Force years, we lived in other states.  Nobody has public tap water better than ours.  I mean nobody.  We could bottle it to sell in plastic bottles.  Actually, I think people do that.


10.  QUIRKY LAWS:  No sales tax and no pumping your own gas.  I know, these are a bit controversial.  Every few years, somebody tries to get these laws changed and puts them on the ballot.  And without fail, they fail.  Personally, I like knowing exactly how much change to hand the cashier, and I like letting somebody else pump my gas in the rain while I listen to music and check my iPhone messages.  (Having to pull my babies from their carseats in 117 degree Arizona to pay for gas inside convinced me of this for life.)  If you don’t agree, you are free to make your own list. 


11.  MASCOTS:  Our main state universities have mascots of the fowl and rodent varieties.  Others states make fun of us, but we don’t care.  Sure, we could co-opt something more fierce like the foresty Big Foot, but we are secure in ourselves and don’t feel the need to impress anyone.


12.  LACK OF CLASS-CONSCIOUSNESS:  We’ll cheer for you if your kid gets accepted into an Ivy League school, and we’ll be happy for you if you join the local country club....but it’s mostly because we like you, and maybe we hope you’ll invite us for a round of golf or something.  Such things just don’t impress us that much around here.  Really, they don’t.


HOW DID WE GET LIKE THIS?  


Maybe we’re this way because of our Oregon forefathers.  Think back to the Oregon Trail.  While the comfortable east coast elite stayed home, the Oregon Trail called to a different sort of person.  Trail pioneers were bold and brave seekers who cared little about class and conformity.  Off they went, Oregon-bound.
After reaching Fort Hall (Idaho) on the Trail, pioneers faced a fork in the road.  The trail to the left had a pile of golden “fool’s gold” rocks, indicating the route to California gold rush country.  The path to the right had a sign with “To Oregon” scrawled on it.  Those who could read went to Oregon.

I’m very glad that my great-great-great grandparents could read.  


EVERYTHING COMES BACK TO COFFEE


Coffee drinkers on the Oregon Trail survived best because the boiling of water happily zapped cholera, dysentery and e-coli bacteria...by sheer accident.  You could say that the Trail weeded out non-coffee drinkers in the Oregon Territory.  Perhaps this partially accounts for our northwest java fixation in modern times.  We’re genetically predisposed to using coffee as a survival mechanism:  coffee restored bad water on the Trail, and revives us through rainy months today. 


IT’S JUST HOW WE ROLL HERE

To succeed in Oregon, early pioneers required strength, smarts, and an ability to play nicely with others.  Social status, on the other hand, didn’t provide much in the way of useful pioneering skills.  Oregonians developed a different set of values from other places and marched to their own harmonica.  And they thrived. 
This mindset worked then and continues today.  As does the rain. 
Yes, I like it here, a lot.  But then, I guess most sixth generation coffee-drinkers should feel pretty at home here.