The true meaning of summer can take many forms. There was the time I spent a week in an Estonian “youth hostel” that had a strip club inside it, not to mention some of Europe’s most disreputable travelers. I learned a lot of unofficial sociology at that place. Then there was the summer I worked about 16 hours a day at two jobs, with the balance of time largely devoted to cheap beer. That was educational in a different way.
But finally, a little late in the game, I think I have the season’s secret figured out: what you do, specifically, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you do something. Last year, my family and I welcomed “warm weather” by freezing ourselves on a Mount Hood camping expedition. (Oregon!) For months, we chased a newly walking 1-year-old hither and yon. And, as it turned out, that summer was just as good as any in my marginally misspent youth. The only mandatory thing is that these fleeting months must be, as a French philosopher (and countless shirtless bros) once said, epic.
To that end, Portland Monthly greets the solstice with a monumental guide to this summer in the Rose City. My colleagues have assembled an action plan for all 17 precious weekends between now and September: an inspiring odyssey that will, theoretically, take you across the Northwest and deep into why Oregonians cherish our mercurial, all-too-brief summers above all. You’ll find plenty of local insight, including the history of Portland Pride, the artistic ascent of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the psychological (and Portlandian) underpinnings of the Women’s World Cup. And it all culminates with a backyard blowout several steps beyond throwing some Oscar Mayers on the grill.
Hopefully, the feature helps fill your calendar with joy. There aren’t many places better suited than the Pacific Northwest to fulfilling summer’s mission. We happen to live at a globally auspicious crossroads of beautiful landscape, delicious food and drink, ambitious art, and just enough hilariously bad/good ideas. (It’s also naked bike riding season—right?) So make your list and mobilize. Summer is short, and this is what it’s all about.