Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The Place I Call Home
I was tagged by Jody for this meme. If you don't read her blog already, you should. She's one of the wittiest people I've ever had the good fortune to meet.
So I'm supposed to impart some local knowledge here - seven things about living in my state. Oregon is what I consider my "home", despite having been born (and lived very briefly) in Oklahoma City, living for a few years in the Bay Area, and living in the Seattle area for over a decade, Oregon has never stopped being my home. I'm a 3rd generation Oregonian on both sides of the family, and have never found any place on earth that feels quite the same as this homeland does to me.
Without Further Ado, Seven Things About Oregon
1) Oregon is the only state in the union that has a two-sided flag (beaver on one side, shield on the other)
2) One of the things I love best about Oregon is all the natural diversity here. In one day, I can get to the beach, or the mountains, or the desert, to sand dunes, sagebrush, old growth fir, cedar, or redwood forests, granite-faced mountains, gigantic river gorges, lava fields, fern-banked roaring mountain streams, oak-filled meadows. When people use the term "God's country", it doesn't even encompass the beauty here. It's more like God-filled country. Everywhere you turn, it's the face of God.
3) Oregon was a Union state. Living on the west coast, we're fairly removed from the Civil War, but Oregon was definitely a state at that time and our cemetery here in town has a Civil War section. Our state motto used to be "The Union", but now it is "She Flies With Her Own Wings", which has a nice poetic appeal to me (as someone whose name denotes a bird, and who loves to fly, and wishes she had her own wings!).
4) My little corner of Oregon is perhaps known best for the fact that most of the hippies in the U.S. eventually ended up here. We host the Oregon Country Fair (largest gathering of aging and newly-minted hippies on the planet and not a place to go if, like me, you are allergic to patchouli). As a result, a liberal, tolerant, environmentally conscious worldview pervades our immediate surroundings. The other day, I was asking the librarian for a book on religions of the world and she said "There's one I saw just the other day, I think I put it on the Peace Shelf". I love that we have a library with a peace shelf, that there are more "Impeach Bush" bumperstickers here than probably in the entire rest of the US, that I could go to a talk or a rally or a benefit concert for peace or sustainability or environmental activism or religious tolerance on every night of the week. I like feeling like people around me are conscious, are paying attention, aren't plugged into The Matrix, ya know?
5) It doesn't rain here nearly as much as we tell the rest of y'all it does
6) Oregon is the best place I've been in America to ride a bicycle. My home town has more bicycle bridges than it does bridges for cars. You can ride a bike around town, through the countryside, down the many bike paths, you can ride to one of our fabulous wineries in the rolling hills between the broad Willamette Valley and the coast (Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from Oregon are excellent, by the way). People here decorate their bikes with feather boas, macrame, fringe, tinsel, streamers, and all kinds of things. There are many different kinds of bikes and biking gear made in my town: foldable bikes and tandems by Bike Friday, tandems by Co-motion, trailers by Burley, and cargo bikes, utility bikes, and most of the town's bike racks by the Center for Appropriate Transport.
7) In Oregon, you must still sit in your car idly while someone else gets paid to pump your gas (and yes, we still want to keep on doing that, and keep voting to be able to do that despite the best efforts of the fuel lobby that puts it on our ballot every few years), you can return your bottles and cans for money back at the store due to our bottle bill passed a few decades ago, it's one of the few places where medically-assisted suicide is legal, and you can get medical marijuana (if by some remote possibility you don't know anyone who grows their own in their basement with lamps). Oregonians still cling to that rugged individualism that came over with the pioneers - we do things a bit differently here in many ways. And I like it that way.