Portland's winters do exist, but in truth, the season is much shorter and less intense than many other climates that have four distinct seasons. A typical winter starts with the gloomy darkness of November, transitions into a brief and intense cold snap, moves through slight wintery precipitation, and then all but disappears by early February. By February, cold temperatures are almost decidedly in the past and farmers and gardeners (and of course everyone else!) find themselves at the beginning of an eternal spring. From the ground, daffodils and crocus burst through, melding into tulips and irises; on the trees, camellias, apple blossoms, cherry blossoms, and magnolias are either presently brimming with color, or are a few weeks away. The color is there, but the rain remains...and could potentially remain for many more months to come.
That's why, despite not escaping a blizzard or extremely cold temperatures, last weekend's trip to San Francisco felt nearly like a tropical vacation. After running a half marathon through Golden Gate Park and along the coast (the coastal portion I found to be nearly too hot, given my Pacific NW temperature tolerance), we spent part of the afternoon back in the park, wandering the San Francisco Botanical Garden. The light pushed through trees to perfectly illuminate certain blooms, casting other parts of the same plant into a mysterious shadows. It seemed that everyone was out, sprawled on the grass, picnicking or taking photos of magnolia blossoms. This was our second visit to the garden and because it was a similar time of year, we knew precisely where the magnolias were and which ones would be in color. Ideally, my next visit will be during a different season--I'd love to see California wildflowers scattered across meadows and notice the seasonal changes throughout the garden.