As PacNW-erners know, Oregon is green. And I mean green. It's not just that the grass and trees are green, but even the tree trunks and branches and forest floor out here are covered in vibrant green moss. A lot of people talk about how beautiful it is and how much they love Oregon. I suppose I understand, but I have never really had the capacity to appreciate beauty in nature. Stargazing has always been nothing but a precursor for sleep to me, and I can't sit on a mountaintop and just look for hours. 5 minutes and I'm bored.
Now, all that is not to say I don't appreciate beauty and nature at all. Of course I do. You read this blog so hopefully you've noticed. I just like to take a more active role in that beauty. Which might mean hiking way back into the wilderness for a weekend of backcountry fishing, or some high mountain headwater fishing, or what have you. And there's nothing I enjoy more than the sense of adventure I get from bushwhacking through trail-less countryside in search of a mountain top, a river, a lake, ... anything.
But back to the green beauty of Oregon. It's green for a reason. That reason? Relentless, incessant, overcast and drizzle for eight months of the year. No, no, it's not as bad as you think. If you like to be cold and wet. Otherwise, yes it is that bad. And it is back.
When I moved out here I dreaded the fall/winter/spring back to back to back knockout punches. Living in sunny Boulder, Colorado I became used to rainy days coming a dozen times a year and sun otherwise. And I realize I have obviously been spoiled. I can remember when a rough day on the water involved that nasty storm rolling through in the afternoon and me being without my rain jacket. The rain would shower down for 15 or 20 minutes and I would take cover under a tree and try to stay somewhat dry. Then the sun would come out and fix my pathetic inability to be capable of surviving in the wilderness, and I could continue fishing.
But what severely disturbed me recently was some time I spent on a nearby river last weekend. The start of the day was overcast and rainy and cool so I layered up and sported my GoLite rain jacket. I fished away the late morning and early afternoon with minimal success, but high spirits. Then in the afternoon the sun started to poke through and I started to lose my interest in fishing. I keep telling myself it's not that I was enjoying the rain but I know that I am, in the immortal words of Mikey, deluding myself.
There's something comforting about putting on a couple extra layers and zipping up your rain jacket and standing in the rain. I think it has something to do with a primal sense of overcoming adversity through the intellect and ingenuity of mankind (even though the jacket and clothes weren't my own ideas/products). This has always been a part of me and is why, since a child, fall has been my favorite season. It's not the falling leave piles and subsequent leave-pile bonfires we would have in the backyard. It was the simple act of putting on that long sleeve T and zipping up a light jacket before heading out of doors.
Then again, maybe it's just that the cold and rain makes one of my favorite things that much better....dark beer!