Grateful Blog: Day 51: President’s Day. Living in thePacific Northwestis a unique experience. I candidly tell anyone who’ll listen how much I hate the weather. I do. It’s gray. It’s wet. And it lasts for about 8 months like that. But there are things that 22+ years of living in thePacific Northwestthat I’ve embraced. They’re funny things. Like how we all know where certain 12,000 foot tall volcanoes are (or should be), even though we can’t see them. Or how Spring starts in February and ends on July 5th. You see, the Northwest is a region of abundance. Abundant mountains, good coffee, micro-brews, forests, food carts, Subaru’s, rain, Gore-Tex, bicycles, rivers, and folks with those little black framed glasses. I have no idea why these things are true but they are. I embrace some of it and some of it I just laugh at. To wit: Sometimes when we all go out of our way to be ‘different’ we end up looking alike.
Anyways, several years ago I was driving aroundPortland—the ‘RoseCity’ on President’s Day when I saw an older couple in their yard, a light rain falling, trimming their roses. You could almost hear them talking about how they did last year compared to the year before, etc. It turns out that’s another quirky thing about thePacific Northwest: it’s tradition to prune your roses on President’s Day. I have no idea how or where that got started but I adore it. It’s dumb because it’s raining—who would do yard work in February—in the rain? It’s practical because we have to prune them once they’ve broken their dormancy but before they get leggy. So it’s the right time. It’s memorable because we have President’s Day to remind us. It’s a little iconic, because it IS theRoseCityafter all. And frankly it’s ‘Tradition’ even if I have no idea how or why it got started.
So yesterday I got out the gloves, the bucket and the loppers and pruned back the roses. My neighbor once showed me the science to it, angle this way, then that way (it baffled me for years), take out the crossing vines (crossing vines?), let the air ‘flow’ through (really?) and take them down ‘X percentage of the Y factor.’ Oh man. Then, sensing my confusion he said ‘Look, their basically weeds with pretty flowers—hack ‘em back and they’ll be fine and better than they were if you hadn’t’. Check. That I got. I actually did find this 1950’s pamphlet on it once at a garage sale and watched the pretty gal in the beehive hairdo show me step by step how but I never fully got the diagrams. I think she over-explained it. They’re weeds with pretty flowers. Skip the spray and the fancy fertilizer. Just take ‘em down a ways and see those little nodes of new growth, yeah those? Right, cut the angle there. Take out the dead stuff. Ok, maybe a little fertilizer. But it’s best to do it on a lightly rainy day. With the one you love. So you can talk about how they did last year compared to the year before. After all, you live in thePacific Northwest, and it’s ‘Tradition’, and every year on President’s Day I do what everybody else does around here, and I embrace it and it in turn embraces me. That’s when I most feel like I belong.