As a native Portlander, I get a little defensive when people say things like “It must rain there all the time.” My city-defending instinct first kicked in when I was a kid visiting family in Connecticut, and someone asked if we got snow year round. Somebody got me a “Oregonians don’t tan, we rust!” shirt, which I didn’t find very funny.
Most of the year, I’m at peace with our seasons.
- Spring: Fully engage in renewed horticultural obsession.
- Summer: Hunker down and pat myself on the back for finally getting that air conditioner, watching the garden from inside.
- Fall: Constantly exclaim things like “Look at the trees! Look at this leaf! Look at me wearing boots and a sweater!”
- Winter: Pray for snow. Check the weather forecast compulsively. Enjoy the lights and sparkly bits that pop up around town.
But there is an awkward in between period that gets me every year, post-winter, or maybe pre-spring. Holiday celebrations are done. All hope of snow is lost. Coloring books from my youth would have me believe there are cheery flowers bursting forth. But in reality we’re in the March doldrums. I wasn’t annually afflicted until I started gardening and became aware of how long it takes for the garden to be green and leafy again, and this stretch of time is agony.
There is no cure for the March doldrums, but there is treatment that can relieve the symptoms. Now, I’ve never been a sun worshiper, much to the dismay of the wing of the family that digs a poolside vacation, but I’ve learned from them a valuable lesson about the value of blowing town. One year my sun loving kin invited us to join them renting a house in Palm Springs. All I knew about it was that it gave me a hell of a sunburn the one time I visited as a kid. It wasn’t on my radar as a place to go, but as an adult, vacation opportunities are too rare to pass up, so I went back.
Visiting as a grown up, I discovered very a different reason to travel here. While I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot to do, it’s a funny sort of gardener’s paradise. There are a couple official gardens you can visit, but what is especially exciting is the omnipresence of spectacular plants everywhere, all the time, like they’re no big deal, mostly in front of to-die-for architecture. Plus, it’s quick and can be done fairly inexpensively if you time things right. So now, every couple years, when March is too long to bear, I try to get back there and remember that the plants will be green again soon enough.