Mortaljive: The Rest is Silence

There is no still point in all the Universe, and that is the rock upon which I stand

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Punked in Portland Part III: Oh, Portlandia, Where is thy Spring?

Our Portland Backyard in Winter

Full disclosure: I was raised in Southern California where we officially had two seasons: green and brown, with green being from February to May or June, and brown covering all the rest. The hillsides of Los Angeles and Orange County served to remind what the season was, a condition which overall didn't really matter except as a kid we had to go indoors earlier in the winter. We did not have snow, we did not have especially colorful autumns, we did not have tornadoes or flooding (except occasional flash floods in the deserts, which also had brief but often beautiful springs). The seasons went like this: "Brown/late-sun" followed by "brown/early night" followed by "green/not-so-early-night" followed by "green/more-day-light" followed by "brown/play-outside-until-8:30-at-night." Once every fifteen years or so we'd have a cold night in the 30s or a hot night in the 90s (or even low 100s) depending on what color the hills were. The Pacific Ocean kept us cool along the coast, and reasonably temperate when winter frost attacked inland.

Winter Sentries--Hillsboro, Oregon

Flash forward: having moved to Portland, Oregon in April of 2008 I can now state with no uncertainty that Spring in the Pacific Northwest is actually a version of Seasonal Apartheid. To wit: flowers do bloom (just a bit late this year due to the cool, even-wetter-than-usual spring) and birds start singing and the the Home and Garden Stores position tons of mulch and cow dung near their entrances--these are all signs of spring.

Loser--a helpful reminder, lest an individual feel too comfortable in this world

A flowering rhododendron

Outside my office window, Rhododendron (I pronounce this word as if it were a Japanese Monster: ro-do-Den-Dron) is blooming in a chorus of colors, the neighbor's tulips sit perfectly in rows like precious drinking cups crafted by pixies, bamboo shoots are finally coming in, the dogwood tree has had its orgasm of color and is putting on its leaves, the wisteria displayed a fragrant purple and white lullaby, the better to coax me to slumber, but I am having none of it. The spring that sings is a "separate but equal" phenomenon: the plants and the bees may partake, but the humans are kept huddled beneath gray, crying skies, water falling to earth in a seemingly endless cascade of discrimination. Or to put in another way: we humans sit at the back of the verdant bus while the flowers and fauna ignore us utterly, unless we protest, at which time we are accused of being uppity.

A wall taunts me in Multnomah Village

Wisteria is just so damn sexy...

And that's the crux of my lament: like children peering into a candy shop that will not allow us inside, we bear witness to an almost virtual spring, one of color and joy and renewal, but soggy and wet, not really for us to revel in, not for us to share. We humans up here go out all the time in this condition, to the parks and restaurants, concerts and the like--we plant vegetable gardens in the backyard, take our dogs for walks in the woods. We make the attempt to live our lives quite fully, even receiving from Nature a few, non-consecutive days of sunshine to keep us from going mental. But don't kid yourself: in our neck of the Pacific Northwest we drink from the Humans Only fountain of spring, and though it tastes like heaven we are not to linger there too long, for we will most definitely get soaked.

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille...

Wisteria, Dogwood and Friends

Punked in Portland Part I can be found here. Punked in Portland Part II can be found here.

Disclaimer: my tongue is in my cheek, hiding in my mouth, lest it wag too much.




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