How to Survive Winter in Oregon

It’s been over a year since we decided to make a lifestyle move to Lakeside Oregon. We spent last winter living in The Guy’s mom’s barn while we searched for property and waited for it to close. It was cold to say the least but I became well versed in peeing outside (even moreso than I was already) and learned to play a couple songs on the guitar. Oh, I also got really really good at this cooking game on my phone. The whole thing was kind of not fun but necessary.

By the time we finally moved onto our super cool historic property on the side of Siltcoos Lake, we were ready to hit the ground running. Our property is just under an acre with 3 buildings on it; One detached mother-in-law house where my mother-in-law actually lives (I don’t know why I get a kick out of saying that), a large building with 4 cabins, and a boat house that is directly on the lake. The old boathouse has been standing for over 100 years and used to be a boat repair shop/dance hall where people hopped off the train to have the time of their lives. Did I mention the train that cuts through our property and still goes by once a day? Our property is called Siltcoos Station, as in the Siltcoos Station train stop. It’s all very quaint with a pretty unique ambiance if I may say so myself.

We (and by we, I mean mostly he) cleared out all of the weeds around the property, threw up a garden, built a chicken coop, sanded down the 8 layers of paint on the cabin floors (one of the layers was bright orange, must’ve been from the 70’s), and planted a million flowers by the beginning of summer.


Before we can get to winter, I have to talk about pre-winter. Some of you may think that pre-winter should be called Spring, Summer, or Fall but we’re trying to talk about the most intense season in the Northwest. So for all intensive purposes, pre-winter shall suffice.

I spent most of pre-winter working. I worked my ass off between two restaurants pulling double shifts 4 out of the 6 days I worked. During especially hard moments, I kept thinking back to living in the barn and how I was when I had too much time. There was time to play guitar. There was time to stare at fires. There was time not to be a stressed out plastered-on-smiling-zombie for 90 percent of my waking hours.

Interestingly enough, I still played that cooking game on my phone which was getting a little weird since I already spent all my days running food to people. You’d think I would’ve found a new way to relax.

Winter’s First Arrival

By the time the first changes of the season happened, I was stoked. Florence is a tourist town on the Oregon Coast that is frequented by both locals from the Willamette Valley and foreigners alike. Every morning, I hoped for rain so that people wouldn’t come out. Seriously, when the clouds inevitably cleared because it was only September, it upset me. I marked the days on the calendar until the main street would become the ghost town all the locals told me about. Sunny days typically guaranteed that every restaurant in the area would be overrun and every single Summer day threw you in the weeds (that’s server lingo that means you’re running your ass off and still behind so you have to smile harder even though you really just want to cry).

Obviously I thirsted for the change in weather. One of the tricks to surviving an Oregon winter is to really look forward to it and embrace it. I was in some serious luck since I’d been pining for bad weather for weeks. I yearned deeply for days where I could just stop moving and maybe do a whole lot of nothing. Indoors. With the curtains drawn and nobody to ask anything of me.

In The Midst of Winter

The first couple weeks that I was stuck indoors was particularly wonderful. THANK YOU WINTER FOR GIVING ME THIS RESPITE. I didn’t feel like going anywhere, so I didn’t. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone, so I didn’t. I’m pretty sure friends and family members wondered where the hell I went.

As Winter wore on, I became more and more reclusive. Becoming a country hermit seemed pretty normalized to me in a matter of weeks. Then, daylight grew even shorter. The Guy and I went a few days at a time not even seeing the light of day because we were staying up until morning and sleeping through the whole day. We started eating a bit more to replace the lack of serotonin in our brains. The thought of putting on pants to wheel the garbage cans to the curbside seemed like a really big chore. I decided that I never needed to wear a bra again. Isn’t that a thing in Oregon? Let the girls go free? But we were still happy. We just didn’t want to do anything. Or go anywhere. Or talk to anyone.

I think that may be the very definition of depression but who can be sure? Seasonal Affective Disorder. What a bunch of crock.

When You Know You’ve Survived an Oregon Winter

There is this story that I like to tell about the year that I lived in Seattle. Winter in Seattle was seriously intense with about 300 consecutive days of overcast weather. It wasn’t the rain that bothered me because I actually do love rain. But I was driving to work one day and I felt particularly happy, enough that I had to make note of it. I didn’t know why until I got out of the car and noticed that there was a break in the clouds. A tiny sliver of blue sky. Happy shining blue sunshine sky. Oh happy daaaaaay!

Living on Siltcoos’ lakeside is not nearly like it was in Seattle. We have many winter days with blue skies but I guess the one thing I’ve got to admit is that maybe I still need a frikken UV lamp.

I had my ‘Oh happy daaaaaay’ moment yesterday when it was just warm enough to leave the cabin door open. The genuine day light enticed me to put proper pants on and go outside. I sat on the step and looked over at my dead plant, a lithospermum that put out pretty blue flowers. I decided to pull it out since I’d bought some tulips and primroses to replant in my pot. To my wonder and amazement, new growth was starting to come up. It too had survived the soggy mess of a long, cold winter after all.

Suddenly the idea of getting that treadmill was easily replaced with maybe going on an outdoor hike. Or possibly a good kayaking trip on the lake. Maybe it would warm soon enough for a swim even.  Pretty soon it’ll be time for barbecues and bonfires. With the lake water still as glass and a happiness growing in my heart, I knew I’d survived Oregon winter.

Remember when I said I hoped I wouldn’t need the courage to know when to turn around? Well, I didn’t need it.

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