We were at Peninsula Park yesterday enjoying a late summer afternoon. Weeks and weeks of Portland summer sunshine slowly went away and clouds filled the sky. Not menacing clouds. Just clouds. But I knew what they meant. As we left I put my nose to the air and said “Rain’s coming”. AdRi looked at me, “Oh yeah?” I thought that was funny: AdRi, the native Oregonian couldn’t smell it. I did though. Later she said it must be the farmer in me that can smell the weather. I think about my dad and his consistent measuring of our suburban Southern California rainfall. “Holy smokes! It rained 1/2 an inch last night!” He probably learned that from his father on the farm in Kansas. Weather runs lives and livelihoods: to know it, to study it, to predict it can be the difference between a successful year or failure.
This morning. I stepped outside and the smell of rain had returned. When was the last time I had smelled it? Weeks? Months? I love that smell and felt relieved. As much as I love the summer, I love our first rain. It cleanses. Leaves, roads, cars, sidewalks. It makes me slow down—first rains are notorious to cause pile ups on Portland streets. For a brief moment I wonder where my umbrella is, and then I remember I haven’t used one in years. I’m approaching 15 years of living in Oregon. I now welcome the rain instead of hide from it underneath umbrellas. I can smell it coming. And while I still crave a dark tan and the heat from sun that for a brief moment takes my breath away, I travel to get those moments.
Welcome back rain. And remember those words. Late August I welcome you. Come February I’ll be cursing you again. Such is the life of a transplant to Oregon.
Update: Saw this one coming: there's an accident on the Morrison Bridge from 2 cars slipping on the freshly rained upon metal grating. I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier than 9:45 am this morning.