October 4, 1995

Rainstorm moving over Tillamook Head
Published 2021-10-05

I remember October 4, 1995 (2 months after moving to Oregon) as The Day It Started Raining For Seven Continuous Months

So the weather today feels familiar.

For a Plainsman like myself, that first winter in damp, stagnant, soggy Eugene Oregon was tough. I felt thickheaded and claustrophobic. I couldn’t ever see the real horizon. Just trees and hills, right on top of me. More than one friend diagnosed me with Seasonally Affective Disorder. Then I made a discovery.

I was sitting in a professor’s office, and she had left her full-spectrum SAD lamp turned on during our meeting. It was right next to her computer, and an uncurtained window. The lamp was sort a big sheet of bluish light, about the size of a tabloid newspaper. I noticed that it was exactly as bright and even as the bluish/gray late afternoon light coming through the window. After our meeting, on my walk home, I looked straight up at the gray sky: no, it isn’t sunshine but it’s bright enough.

That was the end of my SAD right there, pretty much forever. I spent as much time outside as I could, even if it was raining. This was easy because I didn’t have a car so I had to walk or ride my bike everywhere. And every time I was outside, I made sure to look at the sky.

If I have a religious belief or superstition, it’s that human beings should spend two or three hours outside every day, moving moderately vigorously.

Other random notes about my first winter in Oregon:

I didn’t own a raincoat. In 1995 raincoats were either heavy rubber things fishermen wore, or Gore Tex things that cost $500, or glorified windbreakers. I just wore flannel and sweaters and got wet. I never considered it particularly cold, anyway.

The landlord showed up sometime around Christmas break and installed a new wall-mounted space heater, because he knew from the previous tenant that the radiant ceiling heat didn’t work. That’s when I learned I had made it through half the rainy season with no heat.

By the standards of my 24 years thus far, “Eugene winter” was about like “Nebraska Spring.”