Friday, March 05, 2010

Dispelling the cloud of rain

A fascinating short piece on the Portland Open Air Sanatorium was published in the journal Chest in 1938 (4:41). Penned by staffer Marr Bisaillon, M.D., the write-up outlines the history of the institution and its present facilities. That's all well and good; the notable part of the article touches on Portland's climate. Bisaillon states:
Climate has been greatly over-played in recommending certain regions of the country as more suitable than others for tuberculosis patients. But few had considered the value of a climate such as that of Western Oregon which is neither inconsistently cold nor extremely hot, and where, despite alternate rains, life in the open air is possible the year round without sacrifice of comfort.... The results of these small beginnings were so encouraging that the conception of Oregon's climate being inordinately damp was quickly dispelled.
Now, we are presently in an El Nino season here in Portland, and the skies have been drier than usual, so this year some enthusiastic residents might concur with Bisaillon. Let us remember our friends Lewis and Clark, who had some thoughts of their own about Oregon's rain. A quick search of their journals on "rain" brings 461 entries, all of them sounding a bit like this one from Nov. 28, 1805:
Wind Shifted about to the S. W. and blew hard accompanied with hard rain all last night, we are all wet bedding and Stores, haveing nothing to keep our Selves or Stores dry, our Lodge nearly worn out, and the pieces of Sales & tents So full of holes & rotten that they will not keep any thing dry, we Sent out the most of the men to drive the point for deer, they Scattered through the point; Some Stood on the pensolu, we Could find no deer, Several hunters attempts to penetrate the thick woods to the main South Side without Suckcess, the Swan & gees wild and Cannot be approached, and wind to high to go either back or forward, and we have nothing to eate but a little Pounded fish which we purchasd. at the Great falls, This is our present Situation,! truly disagreeable. aded to this the robes of our Selves and men are all rotten from being Continually wet, and we Cannot precure others, or blankets in their places. about 12 oClock the wind Shifted about to the N. W and blew with great violence for the remainder of the day at maney times it blew for 15 or 20 minits with Such vilence that I expected every moment to See trees taken up by the roots, Some were blown down. Those Squals were Suckceeded by rain, !O how Tremendious is the day. This dredfull wind and rain Continued with intervales of fair weather, the greater part of the evening and night.

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