It was really hot in Portland over the weekend and I enjoyed sitting on our faded pink painted patio as Joey had his lunchtime naps. In the sun Portland has blossomed and its thousands of gardens are heaving and fecund with an abundance of brightly coloured blooms, thanks no doubt, to the rain which has been almost continuous since the new year. It feels as though if the population of Portland were to go and live in Beaverton for a week, by the time they got back, the houses and cars, car-lots and other human detritus would be covered with this lush primeval vegetation, a prettier version of Return of the Triffids.
The smells are overpowering too. I think I might have mentioned it before, but much like Gregory describing Dorothy in Gregory’s Girl, Oregon smells ‘incredible’. Opening our front door every morning you breathe in this cold, verdant fresh air. Then, the smells from the garden act as a secondary hit. And then, as you (invariably) get in the car, yet another, less native scent regularly hits you. We question ourselves and each other each time we catch it in the breeze. It seems to waft by the car at least a couple of times on every car journey. I had no idea the extent to which ‘medicalised cannabis’ had become mainstream or legal in Oregon but it’s everywhere and the smell intertwines with the lavender and conifers, damp from the dew, to produce a heady aroma that almost, not quite, makes me want to try it again.
When the sun comes out it does make us, as immigrants, feel like we are living the quintessential American dream. Last night we took the dog for a walk round the school grounds behind our house, there were girls running round the athletics field, the baseball team were preparing for a match against another school and the competing players were whooping out of their cars like a scene out of Grease, whilst four cops sat outside Starbucks, under an umbrella, drinking coffee and enjoying the last moments of heat from the day. As we sat down to dinner on our terrace the neighbour’s who are Oregonian Pinot Noir vintners (yes, really) presented us with a bottle from their last crop. Sometimes when its raining for the tenth day in a row you begin to lose faith, and then the sun comes out and Portland is paradise.