Why do we live in Oregon?
It's a question I find myself asking each fall, winter and, heck, even spring.
Sure, the summers are pretty sweet — it's rarely humid, it hardly ever gets warmer than 95 degrees, and all that rain pays off in beautiful, lush landscapes that look especially nice through the filter of a sunny day.
But man, those falls, winters and springs. The weather is hardly kind to us here. Looking at data from the National Weather Service, it's clear that in 2017, there have been more days with rain than days without. There were 13 days in January with at least 0.01 inches of precipitation, 20 in February, 24 in March, and 25 in April. So far in May, we've had 8 days with at least that much precipitation.
That's not to mention the undoubtedly wild winter we had this year and last. Sure, it doesn't snow in these parts of Oregon every year, but you would think we would get the hang of it after a few trial runs. Alas, no.
Our roads and sidewalks are left slick, we're trapped in our homes, and any of the joy associated with snowball fights and snow angels melts after a few days. I believe there's a reason the quintessential movie about extreme cabin fever, "The Shining," featured exterior shots from Oregon's Timberline Lodge.
Yet despite these glaring shortfalls, Oregon has been attracting new residents since Thomas Jefferson's time. According to a 2015 report from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, "Americans have been moving to Oregon in droves since Lewis and Clark and are likely to continue to do so."
According to that report, 68 percent of America's native-born population lives in the same state in which they were born. But in Oregon, only 51 percent of U.S. born residents were born here.
"That's a massive difference and mathematically works out to more than a half million 'extra' migrants today in Oregon (582,300) than in a typical state," reads the Office of Economic Analysis report.
That report highlights Oregon's high quality of life, range of job opportunities and relatively low home prices as reasons people from other states flock to the Beaver State.
In fact, while I think of myself as an Oregonian, technically I'm one of those so-called migrants. I moved from Northern California to Oregon when I was in elementary school.
So, why do people keep moving here, despite our often abysmal weather? Why don't those who have the financial means trade in the high prices of California living for a lifetime on the beach?
I think it has something to do with scarcity.
I lived in Southern California during a couple of years in my college education, and have made countless trips down there to visit family and friends. For folks in SoCal, the sun is just another aspect of life that blurs in the background. Unlike Oregonians, who don shorts and tank tops as soon as the mercury rises above 60 degrees, Southern Californians are praying for 60-degree weather in October, when the daily high can still be well over 80.
When it rains in Southern California, it's not treated like another day of drudgery — it's celebrated. It is, quite literally, the end of a drought.
Oregonians' excitement about warm weather is probably just as foreign for Southern Californian residents. As soon as the weather's warm enough, Oregonians practically sprint to lakes and rivers, to their favorite hiking trails, even to plots of grass in the closest park.
For a short while, all of those days spent cursing the rain pays off. We're able to appreciate the beautiful weather in ways that those from warm places may not. Those scarce days of sun are precious, and we're able to appreciate them in ways that Californians simply wouldn't be able to.
It can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of living in Oregon when the weather disappoints us. But there is something special about this state, and it becomes glaringly obvious in the summer.
I'll be enjoying Oregon's bounty for this short, hopefully beautiful summer. I hope you will too.