Rose City Rhapsody… by Nancy Brophy

Love television?  Does Portlandia have you thinking about moving to the Pacific Northwest?

First let me break the sad news, Kyle MacLachlan is not our mayor and we don’t put a bird on everything. But it is true we are more laid back than many cities. Someone wrote that Portland is what San Francisco would be like if it was run by Canadians. I love that line.

Weather: You might not have heard but it’s true, we get a little precipitation. Bring an umbrella. The Portland Rain Fest lasts from October through June.

Dress: Princess Kate may be encouraging wearing pantyhose in England, but we don’t. Historically, hasn’t that always been true? In the Revolutionary War, they wore red coats, we dressed casual.

London is as rainy as Portland, but if you think Gore-Tex is sexy, you belong here.

Sucker punch: Come in July. After one summer here, you will never go home. It is our summers that let us survive months of rain.

Food: Expect fresh, local, seasonal almost everywhere. Pick your own fruit – apricots, peaches, berries, and cherries in mid summer. Some things never go out of style. You will learn to preserve produce, make jams and jellies and fill your pantry with jars of product from your backyard.

Exercise: Bring your bicycle. We jog, we hike, we cross-county ski. (I don’t, but I can show you photos of people who do). There are kick-ball leagues and soccer isn’t just for kids. You can learn to paddle a dragon boat and compete in races.

Professional sports: Blazers, Winterhawks, Timbers. Need I say more?

Cool Stuff: If transportation is an issue, Portland is one of the few places you can live without a car due to remarkable public transportation, streetcar, train and bus.

If you have a car, we don’t pump our own gas. Tha’s right. You will never smell like gasoline again. And once your tank is filled, you’re only one hour to the coast. One hour to the mountains. Mt Hood has year round snow.

Home Gardens: Most places you will live will be man against nature. You plant and you pray. In Portland, it is also man against nature. But this time you’re given a weapon – a machete. Everything takes root. If you plant a Popsicle stick in the ground, next summer’s garden will yield some interesting results.

Festivals: Summertime brings the festivals, Cinco de Mayo, the Rose Festival, Crawfish festival, the Greek festival, the Highland Games festival, numerous brew and food festivals. Every weekend can keep you busy.

Money: No state income tax. An item priced at $3.95 is $3.95.  Portland isn’t like Denver. Twenty percent of your salary does not come from the view. There are lots of careers here that aren’t available elsewhere. Have a Saturday Market booth. Sell your home-grown produce at one of the many farmer’s markets.

Coffee: Practice your snobbishness about coffee. You will be tested. ‘Folgers in the cup’ designates a tourist, not a local.

Prepare to be dazzled. Prepare to make friends. Prepare to love us.


Posted on May 4, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I spend every summer there with family and am always amazed by what a fun, unique place it is. Thanks for the post!


  2. Maggie Jaimeson

    At the risk of sounding like an ad for a travel magazine, I have to say I’ve traveled all around the world and Portland, Oregon is still my favorite place. (Yes, Susan, I even like it better than Paris). Portland welcomes you with open arms, enveloping you in its beautiful setting between the sparkling waters of the Columbia River dividing Oregon and Washington, and the Willamette River bisecting the city’s east and west sides. I’ve lived on the East Coast, in the South, in the Midwest, and in both Northern and Southern California. I still find Portland to be the best for overall quality of life.

    The first time I moved here, 10 years ago, I was drawn by its small town charm. I know that sounds strange in a city of over 500,000 residents, but if you live here or visit here you will agree it feels small town in many ways. Its a big city with many smaller neighborhoods; yet those neighborhoods all somehow work together toward a common vision of green spaces, sustainable futures, and people who care about balancing where they live and work. The mass transit system is one of those balancing features. The city has many historical neighborhoods, as well as modern ones, and everything in between.

    Recreation or meditation options are boundless. From Portland you can drive 90 minutes east and be in the high desert. If you prefer the beach, that’s 90 minutes west. Love trees? They abound in the city, the parks, the mountains and the valleys. Speaking of mountains, we have amazing ones. Snow-covered Mt. Hood, with great winter skiing and summer hiking, is only an hour away. Or visit an active volcano (Mt. St. Helens) still doing the occasional blow just over the border in Washington, an hour northeast.

    For writers, the variety of people and places, along with a sense of being able to find balance between humans and nature, Portland offers a base for exploring the natural and supernatural, then translating that into stories.


  3. I love Portland! There are great museums to visit and wonderful people-watching in the summer. One of these days I’m going to spend a long weekend downtown. Hmmm. . .. might even do it THIS summer!

    Melia Alexander


  4. Portland, New York City, and Oxford (England) are the best cities in the world. In that order, lol. I also think Paris could be cool, but not as cool as Portland. Have yet to visit to confirm that theory.


  5. Ditto on the no umbrellas, locals wear hoods. Ugly shoes are promoted here too.


  6. Gina Fluharty

    Great post. If we have a surge in population, I’m blaming you and then you will be tasked with telling them how great Seattle is instead. :o) By the way, real Portlanders don’t own umbrellas. Our look of disdainful satisfaction in being moist repels most rain.


  7. ashlynmathews

    Thank you for such an informative piece on a city that holds fond memories for me. And I’m one of those gals that find Gore-Tex very sexy on my man.

    Ashlyn Mathews


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