Mar 29 2010

When it rains.

March 29th, 2010

You may have heard Portland is the city of roses, the most European of American cities, the most dog friendly, the greenest, home to the most polite drivers…

Portland is a city of hoods.

That may suggest the expected collection of quaint, unique neighborhoods (a reader recently wrote of reading Portland has 120′ish) or worse – a criminal element.

By hoods, I’m speaking of apparel.  I learned this as a Portland newbie in October 2008 when the rains came.   Umbrellas, as mine did last night leaving the theatre, dance around in the wind like kennels in a Jiffy Pop tin foil dome until inverted into a lovely, stainless steel stem tulip-looking sculpture.

Yesterday spring sunshine gave way to an uncharacteristic and noisy night-long-into-day speedy rain.  After twice pushing and pulling the Whippets out for walks I puddle hopped my way solo to Safeway for staples.  A hooded character slugging home ladened with grocery bags I imagined I did not resemble the dramatic cloaked image of Meryl Streep as the French Lieutenant’s Woman surrounded by grey mist and fog.

Before I learned to dismiss coats and jacket without hoods as frivolous, I first wore a black rain hat Joel purchased at Monique’s on NW 10th Avenue.  Dear friend and fellow Tulsa transplant, Wiley Parsons,  called it “jaunty.” I think my stylish solution only shouted, “I am new! I’ll get with the program.”

It was Wiley and I that thought gloves without finger tips were the solution for cold hands when walking dogs and needing agile digits to efficiently tie doggiedoit bags.  I quickly lost one and then the mate (in the summer I would switch to regularly losing sunglasses on dog walks).  The replacement ones Wiley and Joel proudly brought home from REI were nothing short of inspired and downright goofy.  A partial mitten-like enclosure dangled from the wrists to convert the fingerless gloves to well, mittens. Good idea, poor execution.  But back to hoods versus parasols, the key to it all is we are a walking population when not crowded on street cars and disembarking from cabs. Umbrellas are bothersome, cumbersome.

It really isn’t the rain one has to cope with here, it is the greyness.  Rains are usually mists and rarely accumulate to more than that of a Midwest city.  Long Termers know to get the hell out of town by February.  The rest of us count ourselves lucky when the day brings a sun shower.  My friend Ruth Otey told me sun showers mean “the devil is beating his wife.”

Ruth moved back to Texas this week.  I’ll miss her determination to make a life here for herself and her daughter in Portland.  Ruth made no secret of her passion for anything chocolate so I’d routinely save the chocolates Umpque Bank doles out with transactions to give her on Thursdays.  Last week we paused from our duties to sample Lovejoy Bakery chocolate croissants and coffee at the kitchen table.  I wept when we said our goodbyes.  I’ll always think of her when it rains on a sunny day. Those are the days that bring rainbows.

As always, Trix