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Give Us Winter, Eugene!

December 9th, 2016 by dk

Eugene, you know I love you for your weather.

I was first attracted to the strong shoulders of your seasons. Each spring brings slow surprises, and fall seems to furl forever. Summer’s always better than we deserve and winters often flee before we know it. I chose you because you have more weather than any place else I know.

Who can scatter their showers better than you? Your summer squalls can cover half a block. Rainbows are never out of season here. I figure on most days, you give us three days’ worth of weather. That’s like living to be 100 before we hit middle age. And I’m not even counting the weather we ward away with umbrellas we carry but don’t use.

I love it when others complain about our weather. It keeps the secret hidden and the population down. Where else can people see you as a hero because you look good in gray? But lately, how can I put this gently? They’ve not been your best days.

Usually you’re better than this. When you’re cold, you’re clear; and when you’re wet, you’re warm. But several days in the past couple of weeks have been neither this nor that. Not quite cold and not quite rainy — and yet, too much of both.

Will it snow? Will it rain? Will it freeze? “Maybe” is a good answer only when it hasn’t happened yet. Too many days recently have earned a “maybe” after the fact. How did the steps get damp? Did I forget some layer that I should have worn?

Those few days have been not quite anything. Is that rain or is moisture condensing on me like a beer bottle in summer? Is that the sun, or did somebody spill some yellow that fell the wrong direction? It’s not quite clear. I don’t know where I stand.

I’ve never been good with the intermittent wiper settings of life. As a child, I wondered why anyone would ever use the “low” setting on a fan. Medium salsa always feels like a compromise. Sleeves can be sometimes rolled up and so they should.

Friends complain about your June gloom — those few days when summer gets shoved back into the future tense. Others dislike the teasingly summery days you drop into March most years. I tell them they don’t understand you, that you’re at your best when you keep everyone guessing.

But these recent days of “Meh” don’t keep people guessing. What do you say about a day that’s not quite anything? I’m content not knowing what weather you’ll bring today or tomorrow. Not knowing what we got yesterday is harder for me to take.

Kitchen blenders announce loudly that the indistinct is coming. These days have felt like life in a blender — but without the thunder. When everything’s a compromise, nobody ever gets what they want. We all want to feel like a winner, at least once in a while.

I love your winters best of all. The rain, the cold, the wind! I like them best when they come separately, I must admit. But then again, housebound has its own pleasures. I’d never read a book without your winter days. The crackle of a fire and the pelting rain outside make very good music together. Whip that wind and let it pour! Or whiten the noise and everything else with a blast of cold.

Nobody does snow days better than Eugene. We walk in the middle of the streets, daring cars to compete. We feel like post-industrial anarchists or wide-eyed children, wondering whether there’s a difference.

We love our snowpeople for more than their gender neutrality. We know they’ll outlast whatever blanket lies beneath them, asserting what was against whatever comes next. The here-and-now makes room for there-and-then. We remember best the lessons we learned too late. We’ve taught ourselves to mobilize against frigid nights. Thomas Egan, we remember you — even if we never knew you.

We’re ready for winter, Eugene. Give it to us, cold and hard. But save us from these middling days of nothing in particular.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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