I came here from California last January, eager to start a new life here and live more than 10 minutes away from my mother’s house for the first time in my life. I’d heard about the weather and braced myself for the long, hard season ahead. After all the horror stories I’d heard, I discovered that the dreaded Portland winter really isn’t so bad. Of course, the rain took some getting used to. The wind was certainly a surprise. And the cold was biting–nay, gnawing. At times, it was all I could do to not run back to the sunny, warm land from whence I came.
But one adjusts to new things, even seemingly never-ending rain. Knowing that the winter will only last so long certainly helps. So does understanding that everybody else is freezing too. As winter wears on it almost starts to feel homey. One can feel pride that one’s adopted homeland is such a miserable place. And then, after an interminably long time, the winter is over!
But maybe this is your first winter here, and you’re as spooked as I was. Let me help you inexperienced winter-dwellers get off to the right start. Follow this advice, and you might actually survive long enough to see spring.
Enjoy what good weather we have
If the sun comes out after being absent for days (weeks?), get your ass outside and enjoy it. Dodge your boss or tell your teacher you feel ill and go outside for a few minutes. It’ll do you a lot of good, and you won’t feel so bad when the clouds come out again.
Wear appropriate clothing. Invest in sweaters, coats and scarves. Wear layers. Buy your shoes a half size too big so you can pile on another pair of socks. Whatever it takes. Looking cool is not worth being cold. Suck up your pride and put on a parka.
Warm your blood
There are about a billion bars in town. Surely you can find the right potion to warm up your organs and make you a little bit more numb to the chill outdoors. McMenamins has a bunch of hot, boozy beverages designed to do just that. Bars provide great places to escape the rain, get inebriated and eat fatty pub food to get that layer of blubber (see below) to keep you warm.
Learn from our friends, the seals and whales
Blubber is a great insulator. If it’s good enough for the creatures of the sea, it’ll probably work for you as well. So go on, get fat! You can always lose the weight later.
Start a relationship
Have you ever heard of a summer romance? How about a winter romance? With energy costs rising, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to just find someone to warm the other side of your bed at night. Plus, sex will help to replenish the endorphins you’re so lacking in the sunless winter months.
Take a vacation
But don’t go any place sunny. That’ll just make you feel depressed when you get home. No, visit someplace like Madison, Wis., or Burlington, Vt. It’ll make the Portland winter feel downright balmy in comparison. Come back and tell everyone how easy they have it here, and see how long it takes until vitamin-D-deficient Oregonians try to punch you in the face.
Go see the snow
We’re lucky enough to live in a place that doesn’t get mountains of snow each winter. The snow we do get melts fairly quickly, often right after it hits the ground. So drive a bit inland and have a snowball fight or make snow angels or ski or something. You can have all the benefits of living near a winter wonderland without having to actually shovel snow.
Buy full-spectrum light bulbs
Apparently, full-spectrum light feels more like sunlight and tricks the mind into believing that life is worth living. If it can’t be warm outside, at least it can appear to be warm inside.
Take deep, cleansing breaths
It’ll all be over soon. And then the glorious three-week spring will arrive, and on its heels, a skin-melting summer. And then three weeks of gorgeous, crisp fall. After that, this winter shit will be back again. So just try to keep your chin up and your umbrella intact.