Marty Patail

Winter is upon us again.This will come as no shock to anyone in my circle, but I’ve never been a winter person. I grew up in a mountainous place, blanketed for months each year under multiple feet of snow. Yes, those blistering winters were responsible for some mind-breakingly picturesque postcards and world-class skiing, but the cold never grew on me. My college applications had one common thread: is the school located somewhere where you can wear shorts in December? I eventually chose Los Angeles, and I did indeed wear shorts through December. (I sometimes wonder who I might have become if I had used my safety school in Florida.)

Fast forward: here I am, a 15-year Portlander, still answering to the crime of having lived in California for several years. Our winters, mild and rainy as they usually are, have still been uncomfortable for me. They’re too long, too gloomy, too wet.

But this fall was the first time I can remember welcoming the rains back. Watching the forest burn, smelling the dense, unbreathable orange smoke suffocating the city, hearing about communities devastated (including the childhood stomping grounds of a friend), seeing the death toll tick up.... No, these were not our first wildfires. Not by a long shot. And they won’t be our last. But something finally clicked inside me: 2020 seems like a good year to put aside my obsession with sunshine. I can get the vitamin D from a bottle.

Our issue this season is devoted to winter adventures: skiing, skating, snowshoeing, and getting cozy even while snow camping, scenes from my youth reborn on our pages. It’s a celebration of getting outside your house—safely, distantly—and making the most of what is, by all accounts, an endangered season. Let’s enjoy it while we can. You’ll also find our guide to staying well, feeling good, and taking care of yourself this season. And if you struggle with your mental health in the winters, you’re not alone. Find help. It’s out there.

Rather than sulking about my folded-up shorts, I’ve decided it’s better to think deeply about how our weather is changing for the worse and what I, personally, and we, collectively, can help do to stop the slide. Stay frosty, Portland.

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