You know a place is home when walking down the street feels old and familiar and comfortable and right. The trees are tall and reaching in Portland, hiding the cloudy skies with their brilliant green. Down on ground level the soft moss could be a bed and the fallen limbs a couch, clearings decorated with rhododendron and wild strawberries, every backyard a little fairy hideaway. Inside the rain pats quietly on a wooden deck and a constant cup of coffee is an old friend.
A neighborhood in Portland has a coffee shop with couches, a grocery where everyone knows each other but don’t say so, a short walk on a moss lined sidewalk to a park. Everyone tends a flower garden, even the neighbor who never mows his lawn has a dogwood tree or a persistent rose bush he reluctantly trims each year. There’s a place for riding bikes and lots of places to walk and no one ever carries an umbrella. Kids play with foot long worms in the mud and in the spring and summer fingers are a permanent purplish from gorging on strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and the hail Mary of Oregon fruit, blackberries.
On a sunny day everyone’s outside, dancing in the sprinkler or sitting on the grass with a picnic, discussing the best salmon or debating whether a wade in the creek is worth the cold shock of the water. There’s probably a good beer at hand or a strong thermos of coffee.
Portlanders go for drives in the country, past sweetly fragrant strawberry fields with the windows rolled down and rivers rushing fast as they can off the mountain sides. They taste wine in the valley, hike for hours on forever trails in the mountains or in the gorge or sometimes right out the backdoor. They know a good burger when they taste it and own a variety of fleece outerwear.
Coming back to my hometown for a few days, I was ready to be unimpressed. Portland has gotten a little whacked out with it’s recent popularity but it’s good to know that the trees are still there, and the flower gardens, and the rain. Enjoy.