Tuesday, June 22, 2010


It feels weird to be sitting here wearing a fleece vest when summer is officially here and facebook updates from the rest of the country talk about panting miserably in the heat and praising God for air conditioning.

As I may have stated before [yes, I heard that cynical "too often"], Oregon has months of chilly, misty, moist, drizzly weather, and then in April everything bursts into bloom and around the day of the school picnic in May we have some real sunshine, and even though it rains off and on after that, June brings quite a few heavenly sunny days that ripen the vast fields of ryegrass and by the fourth of July the rain is GONE for the next 3 months and the sun shines down and warms you clear through and dries the jeans on the line in a couple of hours.

Not this year. The clouds and drizzle and mists refuse to leave. A few sunny days fought their way through, but then the gray skies took over again. Hopes were high that it would hit 80 degrees today, but it didn't, at least not at our house, and the report was that it's not likely to hit that magic number now until the third of July. This is breaking records all over the place, to go this far into the summer without hitting 80. Here's the June Accuweather calendar, with the actual temperatures compared to the historical average high.

I am trying to be thankful, because it's not like it's terribly cold. And it's nice to drive to town and not have the car as hot as a pizza oven when you get back in.

Speaking of which, my fine daughter in Virginia called me yesterday with a horrible but hysterical story of taking a stray cat to the pound in her car when it was like 100 degrees and humid outside. You can view her sanitized version of it here, but believe me I got details that she mercifully curtained off for the rest of you.

In contrast, today Steven and I took Hansie to the vet to check out his oozy eye and the lump on his right front ankle. I threw on a lightweight cardigan but could have survived without, and I didn't have to worry about Hansie getting hot and sick in the back of the van. So that was nice.

I wonder how many people have dogs which require them to not only take the van, but take the back seat out first, to take them to the vet.

Hansie actually cooperated this time and didn't chase the vet's cat. He barked at the pampered pooches that came in but didn't threaten to tear them apart.

After four tries we finally got him on the scales. 170 pounds. He will have surgery on Monday on his eye and ankle. He is old but his heart is good and yes, he's stiff but we don't need to think about putting him down until he can't get up any more, which seems a bit counter-intuitive.

Oh yeah, the weather. I guess I just dislike extremes. Like when we lived in Canada, I got so sick and tired of the endless cold I thought I would go crazy.

And when I've been in the Midwest in the summer, or when we were in Kenya, that combination of heat and humidity sucked all the ambition out of my body, along with all the oxygen, it felt like.

So I am trying to be content with a gray Oregon summer.

Quote of the Day:
"What is striking about Oregon's climate is not just the sheer amount of rain, but the persistence of the rain. A newspaper feature that Oregon's tourist bureaus would rather forget about documented that among the US's major cities, Portland, Oregon showed the most hours per year when rain actually fell from the sky- a bit over 1,000 hours per year. This is a fact of life that Oregonians know all too well--those gloomy days where it rains a microscopic drizzle most of the day, shutting down outdoor activities like mowing your lawn or working on your car, and yet when you pull off your soaked shoes and sit down to listen to the evening news, fantastically, the weatherman reports that it rained only 0.05 inches, when it seemed to you like everything was oozing water all day long! Then of course there are long stretches of time where it stays gray and overcast, but doesn't rain.

Oregon's first major inrush of settlers encountered a Willamette Valley paradise that was much drier and sunnier than normal. The decade of the 1840s still holds the record as the worst drought ever to afflict our State.

But "Drought" in the Willamette Valley is a relative term. With deep, fertile soils and extensive native cover of trees and tall grasses, the Oregon Trail settlers of the 1840s saw fields of green everywhere despite the underlying drought. With normal yearly rainfall an ample 35 to 45 inches, even quite sub-normal rainfall is still enough to keep streams, rivers and green grass going much of the year, and there were so few people that overuse of water tables, and urban water shortages weren't even conceivable.. Then, too, one must remember that even a drought-stricken Willamette Valley looks very green and lush compared to the brutal deserts and steppes that settlers had traversed to get to the Willamette Valley.
So Oregon's early settlers adjusted to an abnormal climate, a more sunny, dry climate that favored grasslands and oak trees, quite similar to what one finds nowadays in the Roseburg and Grants Pass areas. But then the 1850s rolled in, and with it the normal endless rains and clay mud, and months of gloom. One can imagine the thoughts of the settlers who'd come on the first wagon trains, staked their donation land claims, and built their new homes. No matter how crummy the weather now became, they knew they were now "locked in." Now they had to learn by heart how to spell that native Oregon word, "SADS." *

* Behavioral scientists at Oregon Health Sciences University are credited with the original research that led to the naming of "Seasonal Affective Disorder," SADS for short-- moody, down, gloomy, depressed, irritable, and hungering for heavy rich food and COFFEE to get through the sunless weeks without end. "
--The Climate of Northwestern Oregon "Mecca vs. Reality"
Bruce B. Johnson


  1. While you are waiting for it to reach 80, maybe it will make you feel better to know that we in Western WA are waiting for it to reach 75!!!

  2. Boy that is a looong quote for the day. Must take quite a few words to sum up Oregon weather!! and some history thrown in too!

  3. Interesting quote of the day. I wonder if that's perhaps why my grandmother's family moved back to Oklahoma? I hadn't thought to ask her anything about things like that while I still could, and no one else in the family seems to know.

  4. I've heard that Oregon and Ireland are much the same in climate and coastlines. It has to be true, since I completely identify with the SADS definition.

  5. Tina Hostetler6/23/2010 5:15 PM

    I have definitely been affected by the SADS disorder. When the sun shines, all my tiny problems evaporate.
    Yesterday I laid on the grass in our back yard and just soaked up the sunshine. It was bliss. Today is quite lovely, too. *crosses fingers*
    I have obsessed about coffee this winter more than anytime in my life. :)
    This too shall pass.