It is Spring Break in Oregon, and Oregon may be unique in that it is Spring Break for everyone in K-12 (and some colleges) all over the state, all at the same time. I explained this to my sister once, and she commented that this must be quite overwhelming for all the attractions in Oregon, to have all those kids (and usually at least one parent each) on vacation all at once. This is not an issue, however, because the biggest attraction in Oregon during Spring Break is the airport: Gateway to Someplace Else. (Preferably somewhere sunny.)
You may not be too surprised to hear that we are experiencing traditional Spring Break weather, which is to say…it is pouring, interspersed with breaks of mere showers, and the occasional burst of time in which skies like solid polished pewter press down on you, waiting for the most inopportune moment to burst open again. However, for those who venture outside – which is everyone, because if Oregonians did not go outside in the months-long rainy time, we would wither away and die – it does not really matter if it is raining or not, because everything is going to drip on you and you are going to get wet anyway.
Yesterday dawned with a weather teaser – the sun was out. My son wandered out of his room and announced “The blue came out” and was very excited for a sunny day. I told him that any sunshine at all during Spring Break was pretty unusual, so he went around for a while, declaring that it was “a rare day”. By 8:30am, clouds were wisping by overhead; by 9:30, they were clumping in the sky like giant gray dust bunnies, and by 10, the sky was a mass of shades of gray and black and rain was clearly inevitable. The neighborhood’s earliest flowering tree, a magnolia varietal, had bravely bloomed, its white blossoms shining against the bare mahogany branches, and the cherry trees along the river front were stretching forth their pink flowers, little knowing that they would soon meet their traditional fate of being tattered to shreds by dripping, pouring, lashing, slicing, oh-so-insidious perpetual rain.
Of course, I would not want to imply that the only weather we have during Spring Break is rain. Sometimes, it is broken up by sudden hail. Less frequently, it snows, although never enough to stick on the flooded, puddly, splish-splashy ground. Sometimes, there is the added bonus of thunder and lightning to liven things up. (A good thunderstorm is always exciting in a house with two cats and a small child.)
Furthermore, there is mud and lots of it. The ground oozes with water, teeming with puddles that can no longer be absorbed by the supersaturated ground. Lawns and playing fields and parks squelch. Worms flee their wormy underground homes, seeking sidewalk safety, only to fall prey to puddles and torrential and eternal trickles that wash them back to the mud. Walking up a grassy incline is an exercise in slipping and sliding, with the prospect of a muddy fall in the immediate future for anyone foolish enough (or new enough to Oregon) to actually attempt it. Plants and seeds cannot be planted in early spring in Oregon, not because of frozen ground, or overnight lows, but because the soil is semi-liquid muck. I’m sure that somewhere in Ye Olde Farmer’s Almanac there is an adage which reads “If your boot pulls off into the muck, for planting time you’re out of luck.” Anyone who attempts planting at this time of year will probably end up with hands and knees suctioned down into the sucking maw of sodden clay-filled earth in their front yard and have to be rescued by their laughing neighbors. Failing that, the roots and seeds planted would simply rot away.
So don’t look for me outside, having spring adventures in the great outdoors during Spring Break. I am hanging up my rainboots and curling up inside with the cats, a cup of tea, and a good book. Lucky for me, my son likes to splash in the yard, collecting soggy nature, running around, trying to catch falling raindrops in a bag, and making soft streaks of chalky and ephemeral color in the driveway. I might get peace and quiet long enough for a few sips and a few pages, here in our rainy wonderland.