I find myself at that point in the ongoing adventure that is relocating to Portland where things are beginning to feel more normal, and yet it’s hard to shake the sense of elation at being in a new place where things are so much better. The other day, Rachael and I had the urge to make cookies, and we realized with some consternation that we were missing a few key ingredients. Because the local climate doesn’t necessitate central cooling, we’ve found ourselves trying to be more mindful of how and when we produce excess heat inside our apartment. Running the oven was out of the question, so we resolved to do some stovetop no-bake cookies (the ones that are basically peanut butter chocolate fudge held together by oats) in the hopes of not making it too hot inside.
Still, we lacked a few core things, and we were faced with the prospect of choosing between having cookies and staying inside (anyone who has had a long, exhausting day at work will likely understand the dilemma here). Ultimately the desire for cookies won out, and so I volunteered to go to the store to get ingredients.
Back in Georgia, this errand would be the sort of thing that requires getting in the car and driving at least five minutes to the store, parking, locating everything on the list, and then doing it all in reverse. It’s not necessarily a terrible errand, but it’s an involved one with lots of steps in the process that just aren’t much fun to do when you’re tired and just want some fudging cookies.
In Portland, you just walk to the store.
I mean, it is slightly more involved than that; the nearest store is a high end organic place (sort of like Whole Foods, but not a huge national chain) which doesn’t receive our regular business because that stuff is expensive. Still, it’s the most convenient place, being located only three blocks away (for comparison, our regular grocery store is about ten blocks away), so I set out on the errand.
The good news of this is that I genuinely enjoy walking in our neighborhood. It’s a pleasant part of town with lots of activity at any time of day or night, and the novelty of just stepping outside and going is still really magical to me. Where Georgia is still experiencing temperatures in the high 80s as autumn officially gets underway, Oregon has had the first hints of its long, cool, rainy season. We’ve been getting precipitation in various levels of intensity all week, and the night I went for cookie ingredients was no different. It was extremely overcast, and there was more than a little bit of rain falling as I took my stroll.
The thing about this sort of dreary weather is that it doesn’t seem to hold much enchantment for the locals. All my coworkers, when they’ve mentioned the weather this week, have been sort of down on it. I get that. When the local climate is cold and wet for most of the year, you probably don’t care much for the end of summer. Of course, I’m from Georgia, and in Georgia it only gets cold and wet for about a month and a half in late winter when the holidays have passed and you have nothing to look forward to because spring will be a brief, miserable explosion of pollen before summer sets in and bakes everything until the end of October.
That is to say, I love this rainy weather. The climate in Georgia was one of my biggest complaints for a long time; the state’s located at a miserable latitude and climate change has only made it worse as I’ve gotten older. Being in Oregon, I can’t help feeling giddy when the sky is gray and rain’s steadily falling (I’ve not yet seen any sort of rainy weather to compare with the South’s sudden, intense thunderstorms that dare you to set foot outside). I feel like a little bit of a freak about it, because I think my excitement over the weather is the most non-local thing about me (folks who find out I’m from Georgia are continually amazed that I don’t have an accent–which is silly, because I do, only not in the stereotypical ways that pop culture leads you to believe Southern accents manifest), but I still remember the bone heat you get in Georgia when you step outside and start sweating within five minutes without ever drying out. That was the reality of my summers for thirty-one years, and I don’t think that’s a feeling I’ll ever forget. Consequently, I can’t help associating the cold and the damp with a sense of relief.
So I walked to the store, and I got cocoa powder to make no-bake cookies. It was a twenty minute errand. It was also undeniably one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in Portland yet.