Part One: The Journey
I don’t know if this is true or not, but I read somewhere that folks that live in San Diego, where it is perpetually seventy-five degrees and sunny, spend an average of thirteen minutes outside everyday. Thirteen minutes! Perfect weather, and yet, wasted indoors! This boggles my mind. Here in Portland, we don’t take these warm sunny days for granted. No, we seize the moment. We enjoy every hot minute of the hot sun because we know it could go away at any time, sometimes for months on end.
Take last Saturday for example.
A Perfect Portland day. Eighty-eight degrees without a single solitary cloud overhead. Hot, but not unbearable. I woke up in a house cooled by deciduous trees shading my window, blocking out the sun like a shroud. Cool wind gated through the windows, causing the curtains to billow outward. Wind chimes and birds sang outside my window, Bob Wilson was mowing his lawn next door and the scent of fresh mowed grass wafted in with the breeze.
I rose from bed, letting my wife sleep, popped on my denim shorts and a KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD T SHIRT, sandals and the dogs leash. Gertie (the dog, Gertie) circled around me in joyful anticipation and bounded with me outdoors. I wasn’t going to let this gorgeous day pass me by. Neither was Gertie.
I was heading to Zupans.
I waved at Bob, as he dumped his clippings into his compost pile. Rita Jackson jogged passed with her babies, Maddox and Madeline, in the stroller. Gertie, of course, greeted them. She loves kids. Bill Murphy strolled by, smoking his morning pipe and walking his rescue pit bull, Sadie. She’s missing an eye but she is full of love. The dogs sniffed each other and play bowed while Bill and I chatted.
Moving on, I’d already been outside for ten minutes, approaching the time frame of most San Diegans.
Chuck and his husband, Clark, were having breakfast with my friends from church, Zeke and Helen. They were sitting out in front of the deli. The food aroma was tempting me, the conversation pulled me in and Gertie and I stayed just for a few minutes to chat. But I had to go. I was on a mission, behind timing my minutes outdoors.
Twenty-five minutes later and I’d reached the Zupans. Gertie and I walked in and no one looked at us strangely. Dogs are welcome almost everywhere here in Portland. I grabbed a couple of bagels and lox and some coffee. I was going to surprise my wife with breakfast in bed before a planned day on the water with friends, water skiing, enjoying some adult beverages and some sun.
My favorite cashier was there. She’s a young lady who goes to Reed College and majors in Women’s Studies. Her name tag says Sara, but I didn’t need it to greet her by name. Her pixie cut hair was purple, pink and yellow. She smiled through pierced lips and greeted me with genuine joy.
In Portland, this is common place.