Real Oregonians don’t use umbrellas

Joking with Jacob


Well everyone, we’re back. It’s that time of year again, the time that simultaneously thrills and inspires dread in students statewide. All summer long we try and pretend it isn’t coming, but as the trees begin to slowly transition into brighter shades and the temperature drops, it’s hard to deny. And then, suddenly, it hits us. Sure, we’ve seen it coming for days, even weeks, but it still catches us all by surprise. That’s right: it’s the rainy season.

It also just happens to match the start of school. Interesting. Just as the time of year hits when students don’t really have as much of a chance to enjoy the outdoors, well, they may not want to anyways. For us rainy folks who love to slip on the old galoshes and run like giddy children through the puddles, that transition is by no means unwelcome. For the people less accustomed to gray clouds, slippery ground, and no sun for months on end, it’s not so exciting.

It’s surprising, really, how many folks absolutely despise the rain, as Oregon happens to be one of the worst places to live with that particular aversion. One has to wonder: is it inborn in human nature to steer clear of rain, or just something that people decide after their first chilled-to-the-bone soaking? If either is true, Portland still lives up to its odd reputation, since everyone learns to work through the incessant drizzle.

Having spent the vast majority of my childhood in Oregon, it’s a bit strange to realize exactly how much rain we get. I thought it was natural for the entire U.S. to have 9 months of rain. But apparently, it isn’t. Last spring I went down to California, a trip that just happened to coincide with the three rainiest days of the year. Some of the people I talked to thought I brought the clouds with me. What struck me the most, however, was how the people I talked to apologized for the weather. “Sorry, it’s never like this,” they’d say. “I’ve never seen this much rain before.”

Now, not to say Californians are terrified of rain, but when it starts coming down they all become horrible drivers. It’s as if the roads iced over and everyone forgot chains. The rain wasn’t even constant—an hour of downpour, an hour of sun. Repeat. Maybe if that were the case here, Portland wouldn’t hold the title of “Most Depressed City in the America.” There is a bright side, however, to being such a depressed region! Not literally bright, of course, but nonetheless: we spend 37 percent more money on reading material and have more magazine subscriptions than anyone else in America, meaning we’re using the weather to get smart. Or at least stave off suicide.

But back to the apologizing. It rains so much here it barely affords a sideways glance, much less going out of one’s way to address the fact that water is falling from the sky. We take the rain for granted—the bad and especially the good. In some other states, it’s a phenomenon that limits the region entirely. It’s like having a snow day here—a fine dusting and all of a sudden transport is entirely impossible.

For us students—all of us dedicated to hours upon hours of endless studying at all hours and days of the week—rain really changes little. We Oregon kids don’t need the outside, especially with all our great new reading material to keep us occupied. Not really, of course.

Rain makes us strong! It makes us really feel connected to the environment, because—what? Oh. Don’t worry; the feeling in your fingers will come back in a few hours. Yeah, the rain does that too.

So yes, unfortunately the rain gets to everyone in one way or another. Jumping in puddles becomes a slog after the first week of cloud-filled skies, and soon we can only appreciate the patter on our roofs. Here’s the bright side—the literal one. When the sun is out, we appreciate it more than any other place in America. We make our summers count. We had a “disappointing cool” summer, according to some; I don’t know who those people are, but I guess the sun wasn’t hot enough. Maybe the world will shape up next year. But honestly, if the newspaper hadn’t been saying that, I wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe someplace like California cares about the difference between 85 and 90 degrees, but here, I sure don’t.

Now, I feel like this would be a great analogy to talk about some life things. First life lesson: there are always life lessons to be found. Let’s milk it. Second life lesson: even if you have it bad, things will look up at some point, in one way or another; small or large, it’ll happen. The rain will always be there, but so will the sun. Cheesy, yes. Trite, yes. True? Close to it. Third life lesson: people are always going to use long, overly detailed stories to try and explain to you something they’ve learned. Like this one. You’re welcome.