Wet, damp, depressing, soggy, bleak, cold, gray, and dark are all words that adequately described Portland this late November. Heck, those words describe Portland most every month, excluding maybe three weeks in August or the beginning of September and the occasional Tuesday here or there. It’s a rainy city – the type of place where the weathermen say things like: “Expect strong showers turning into steady rain by this evening” while staring into the camera with a crazed look in their eyes.
Or at least it used to be. Like most places these days, the weather in Portland seems to have been slightly off the last five years. Sunshine breaks out at the oddest times – mainly during weeks that aren't at the end of August or on days that are actually contiguous. I’ve heard some reports that there has been sunshine - warm golden rays even – that fell on actual weekends when people could get outside of their cubicles and enjoy them.
Now you’d think that they blue skies would gladden the hearts of many Portlanders, that they’d come outside of their many fine movie theaters and coffee shops and bookstores and microbrew pubs and movie houses that serve microbrews and bookstores that serve coffee. You would think that the residents of this fair city would peel off their gore-tex jackets and remove their hoods and joyously blink like cave dwelling fish at the bright light.
But they don’t. Instead, Portlanders feel an icy dread when viewing blue skies. The sunshine burns their souls slightly like vampires. It’s an instinctual reaction because they understand that the rain and damp chill is Portland’s defense system. If the weather was nice, or even just okay, or even if there was two or three days contiguous days of sunshine a month, well then, everyone would want to move to Portland.
Suddenly, Portlanders would find themselves in line for a beer at the movie theater and be surrounded by their relatives or high school classmates from back east because Portlanders, by large, aren’t from Portland themselves. The moved there last year or a couple of years ago or last decade. And despite the overwhelmingly, depressingly gray winters and springs and falls and, well, most of the summers, they stayed because they liked enough about the city that the constant rain bothered them less and less.
Those people who actually like sunshine - those that believe that strong showers followed by steady rain day after day makes it a choice between mental health and living in Portland – well, they don’t usually last more than a year or two before moving away to places like Austin or Phoenix. But for those who stay, when they are not reading books or drinking beer while watching movies or reading books, they begin to really like the rain. They hike in it, they garden year round in it, the idea of moss growing on concrete sidewalks begins to seem normal. And so, the recent bouts of sunshine has many worried. It is, after all, a city were fashion can run from gore-tex to polar fleece and sunshine just won’t do.
And so, I’m happy to report that as I spent the last week in Portland, it rained. It was wet and damp and depressing, not to mention soggy, bleak, cold, gray, and dark. And that’s just the way I like it.