Rainy days are a fact of life in Oregon, and the cloudy skies and wet weather can go on for days, weeks, or months. When the sun comes out, nothing is more appreciated, with the world spotless and sparkling. The rain is what makes the state so green and lush, and while we might dream about seeing the sun and the clouds breaking up, the winter months are also cozy – and getting used to it is important, as we beat the average amount of rain for a city, with about forty-three inches per year and about 156 rainy days every year.
The Pacific Northwest
The most extensive temperate rain forests are in the Pacific Northwest, running from Alaska to Northern California. The moist air from the Pacific blows in and is then trapped by the coastal mountain ranges. The heavy rains mean the trees are taller, the grass is greener, and moss and ferns in abundance. Gardening is rewarding in this climate, where roses, peonies (my favorites), apples, cherries, and other tree fruits are the best in the world.
The forests are alive with black bears, wolves, lynx, raccoons, weasels, bats, beavers, squirrels, and other wildlife. In the city, we are not exempt, and while we might not appreciate a visit from a skunk, many other animals and birds share the city and our yards, trees, and gardens – and when one is spotted, it is an exciting time for Frankie, my French bulldog.
Within an hour from home, you can travel the winding mountain roads and take a hike through mossy forests, or the other direction, or head for the coast to visit Coos Bay, Gold Beach, Seaside, Depoe Bay or Cannon Beach. A road trip on the coast allows you to see rugged cliffs and rock formations, historic lighthouses and arched bridges with spires and art deco details. Keep your eyes on the water, as you are likely to spot a whale. One difference about the Oregon Coast is that state lawmakers passed the 1967 Beach Bill, which made the entire coastline open to the public, always free.
From the city, you can see the snowy peak of Mount Hood, just fifty miles away and visible for one hundred miles. Every rainstorm down below means snowfall on the mountains, supplying water to the waterfalls, rivers, and streams as the snowpack melts.
The rain is ideal for gardens, and the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Washington Park, Forest Park, the Hoyt Arboretum, and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden are close by and ideal places to enjoy a treasured sunny day. The Willamette River passes through downtown, crossed by the arched Fremont Bridge and eleven others throughout the city.
Portland takes its name from Portland, Maine, and as the story goes, was chosen with a flip of a coin. It is now a burgeoning technology center, with many young people working in various industries in the tech sector, including software development and computer production, attracting workers from across the nation and the world.
When the rain comes, we don’t fight it, we embrace it! It’s cozy inside, and the sun is bound to shine soon.