August 08, 2007


It's last Thursday, just at dusk, and I'm sitting in the backyard talking to my roommate's best friend. He's a Portlander from his Chacos sandals to the ironic army hat I've never seen him remove, and like all other Portlanders I've met he's telling me wistfully about someplace he used to live that wasn't here.

In this case, it's Idaho.

"What," I ask, "were you doing in Idaho?"

"Digging fire breaks."

"What, like with the Forest Service?"

"Yeah," he tells me. "It was beautiful there."

I'm mildly surprised -- while I've never heard any evidence that Idaho isn't beautiful, I still don't think I've ever heard anyone call it so. But he continues.

"It was warm and sunny every day," he says, looking around at the inevitable Portland cloud cover. "Then I came here and it was 4 or 5 solid days of rain every week. It was like a slap in the face."

I wince. "Wow," I say, "when was that, January?" Even Idaho can't be sunny every day in January.


I knew already that, here in Portland, he works as a network admin. Now I'm trying to imagine his Idaho spring, short sleeves and sun every day, outside with a shovel telling fires, No, you stop here. I'm trying to imagine giving that up to move to Portland in rain and gloom and constant clouds, to work inside in front of a computer.

I'm opening my mouth to tell him I'd have stayed in Idaho, when two or three hundred birds appear out of nowhere and fly east over our heads. The sky is solid birds, streaming away toward a hipper part of town, for five minutes. By the time they're gone, we've both lost the thread of our conversation, and I'm thinking, Idawho? Give me Oregon.

Posted by dianna at August 8, 2007 09:00 AM

"Ah," said the Marshwiggle, shaking his head. "I see you're making the best of a bad job. That's right. You've been well brought up, you have. You've learned to put a good face on things."

Posted by: didofoot at August 8, 2007 09:09 AM

Please tell me you didn't just spout that off from memory. Even if you had it written down and stuck on the wall over your desk, that's less alarming than having it memorized.

Actually, that would be kind of cool.

Posted by: Dianna at August 8, 2007 11:15 AM

Ha! That would be cool. But no, I work from home so I have access to all my stuffs at all times. As I was running to get the book, I thought, SEE? SEE? THIS is why I own books! So I can find this stuff in a hurry! (Not pausing to wonder why it is so important to be able to quote Puddleglum on a blog now and then.)

Posted by: didofoot at August 8, 2007 11:28 AM

Giant nod for this entry, by the way. I got a little sidetracked with the Marshwiggle there.

Posted by: didofoot at August 8, 2007 12:02 PM

"'I was wondering,' remarked Puddleglum, 'what you'd really see if you lifted up the visor of that helmet and looked inside.'

"'Hang it all,' said Scrubb. 'Think of the shape of the armour! What could be inside it except a man?'

"'How about a skeleton?' asked the Marsh-wiggle with ghastly cheerfulness."

I heart Puddleglum! I love how his gloomy caution is basically what saves their hides, but he always thinks he's being optimistic and the kids always think he's a wet blanket.

Oh yes, points to the entry.

Posted by: katie at August 8, 2007 03:25 PM

Hee! I love that my title, which I changed at the last minute when I decided that calling the post "Idawho" would make the end less snappy, has generated more comments than the post itself. I also love that I've made both of you dive back into your copies of The Silver Chair to look up Marsh-wiggle quotes.

Unsurprisingly, I also found Puddleglum to be entirely more delightful than I think one was supposed to find him. He's good at heart, you know. Plus he has hair shaped like linguine.

Important correction: Google has informed me that the hat worn by the protagonist of this story is more a Fidel Castro hat than anything you'd really call an army hat. This changes everything.

Posted by: Dianna at August 8, 2007 09:22 PM

It took me a minute to figure out that the protagonist of the story was not, in fact, Puddleglum.

Do you still think the hat is ironic now that you know it's a Fidel hat? I ask in part because I can name several acquaintances off the top of my head on whom such a thing could only be described as wholehearted.

Posted by: katie at August 8, 2007 11:53 PM