I think one of the most rewarding and fun things about relocating to a new state is learning a whole spate of new things -- about your new climate, about yourself, and about how to live your life, day to day, in the area you call your new home.
Growing up in California meant that I never really experienced winter. In the places I spent most of my life we had seven months of summer weather followed by five months or so of slightly cooler, more unpredictable weather. You couldn't really even call it winter compared to this. It could be 85 degrees during those months, or 65 degrees. But it mostly tended to the warmer end of the spectrum, and it was almost always sunny.
Here it is chilly, windy, gets dark early, and gets a ton of rainfall, although the rumor that it rains all the time is completely false; we get a fair mix of partly cloudy and sunny periods in any given week and, for the last week, we've had nothing but glorious -- but cold -- sunshine.
But I am learning how to take wet and/or cold weather seriously. I have two pairs of dress boots, for instance -- nice leather ones -- which had always been my go-to shoes in the rain, back in California. But when it's 38 degrees and really cold and wet -- those boots have NOT kept my feet warm enough. And so the other day I headed off to the thrift store to try and find some unworn, better boots and hit the jackpot, finding three pairs. (side note: You'd be amazed how many items of clothing I've found there that have never been worn. Most of the time the price tag is still attached, too.) Anyway, the fleece-lined waterproof boots I found make a HUGE difference in how warm my feet are, which in turn makes me feel a lot more comfortable. I also now wear fleece leggings under my jeans, plus gloves and earmuffs if I'm going to be outside more than a few minutes. But the boots and thermal underwear are worn all the time now.
I've also had to re-learn what it means when the weathercaster calls for a "20 percent chance of rain." In California, a 20 percent chance of rain meant it was almost certainly NOT going to rain, much to everyone's disappointment. But in Oregon, a 20 percent chance of rain means you'd better pack your raincoat in the car and expect to use it. I'm glad I bought a new raincoat just before I moved. I wear it -- or at least bring it along -- all the time now.
But I think the hardest thing to get used to is the sunny, clear days. In my 57 years, those weather conditions always, and I mean always, meant you could shuck off your jacket, because the temperature generally rose into the 60s at least. Not so outside California. Some of the coldest days I've seen here have been the sunny ones, especially when the wind is blowing. The fact is that Oregon has four seasons, and you're not going to get summer just because the sun comes out. Fine by me.
And so, as this holiday season approaches, I find myself thankful for the changes that have happened in my life, as I settle into them and the new things become more routine. A good friend of mine gave me a nugget of wisdom before I moved here. She said, "there is no such thing as cold weather...only inappropriate clothing choices." I'd say she was right. With fleece-lined, warm and dry feet, all things seem possible, no matter how hard it's raining.
I guess when tackling a steep learning curve, it pays to start from the ground up...in this case, with your footwear.