People have said to me many times, "oh, you're from Oregon? It is so pretty there..." and I nod noncommittally and think, "yeah, yeah. It's green, it's gray, it rains." Sometimes I do know I'm lucky to live here with the options of mountains, desert, coast, or big city all within driving distance for a day trip. I don't disagree with the label of it being a pretty place to live, but I also don't generally recognize it as such nor see what is all around me.
That changed yesterday.
Shortly after the plane passed Mt. Hood it started its descent and we flew over Troutdale and Gresham and neared the airport. Looking out the window, I saw the green continuing into the cities. I saw roads with trees lining them so that some areas were hidden from view. I saw pockets of trees with various shades of green. There were hills like Mt. Tabor and Mt. Scott, bulging from the city and sprouting full heads of trees. Some areas of the city were obscured from view because of the trees. There were streams and rivers and lakes. I truly had a small pool of tears in my eyes because of seeing trees and water as far as my eye could see, and downtown Portland with the pink bank tower building reflecting the remaining pieces of sunlight (I don't remember the name of whose building it is now, but I still think of it as the pink bank building), the other buildings marking the downtown area against the backdrop of the west hills. In that plane I actually *saw* what people had been commenting about and I felt it.
Driving from the airport - rather, being a passenger being driven from the airport - I rolled down my window even though the air felt cool, and let it sink in. I could smell the water in the air, along with the trees and grasses, and it was refreshing. I smelled and felt the green and it smelled like home.
This morning I opened the bedroom curtain when I woke up and there it was: the tree. Right outside the window. And the neighbors' tree. And a cool edge in the air which will warm to just below 80 degrees, they say.
And a piece of irony - although it is only supposed to be the next few days and then returning to more regular Oregon weather. The forecast, beginning today 8/3/08, for the next week (this time I downloaded the jpeg rather than linking to the KATU weather page I know will change):
I will enjoy the cool 81 (if it reaches it) degrees today and be patient until the temperatures take the predicted downturn later in the week. And I will still count my blessings that 94 degrees in the land of green trees and multiple water sources will feel better than 103 degrees in the city with a scattering of trees, miles of concrete, and surrounded by bovines in various states of aliveness with accompanying odors.