Home. After a few months in a drier land Bridget and I slowly drove our portable home back into the coastal climate of the Northwest and the greens began to take over, the rain began, coffee thickened and trees grew immensely. All of this gave me a surprising and overwhelming satisfaction knowing that I was home and it was the first time I realized that I probably couldn’t live anywhere else. Immediately I wanted to put this into words and did but after reading an essay from the inaugural issue of Coast Mountain Culture magazine I decided someone already did, and they did a better job than I could. So enjoy the essay below as it pays homage to a landscape and culture I have grown to love.
“My car hates the rain. It only makes sense. The vehicle was designed under the roof of an impeccable kept facility in Wolfsburg, Germany, and built in the sweaty factories of Puebla, Mexico. Its rusting steel was torn from the Alabama ground, and the cracked glass of the windshield is borne of Cholulan silica. Everything about this car points to a polygamist birth from distant lands, far from the Pacific Northwest. I think that’s the problem: my car is allergic to the unique landscape I call home.
There’s truth to the old adage “home is where the heart is”. We are the product of our environments, and while we can adapt to new ones, the places we come from always leave an indelible stamp on our hearts. And I don’t just mean in an intangible way. Every particle of the human body is derived from the immediate environment it grows in. What we drink becomes cell structure. What we eat becomes flesh. My car may not play by those rules, but my body does.
I was born in the Pacific Northwest’s soggy rainforest. I drank the water of swollen Vancouver Island rivers and breathed the respiration of the coniferous giants that dwarfed my childhood home. Being a farm raised kid, I digested meat and produce that become my body. I am, quite literally, the Pacific Northwest. Unlike my shitty, sputtering car, when I venture beyond these Cascadian borders, I am reminded of my connection to it with every turn.
My car hates the rain because it is the spoiled love child of an international pregnancy. It’s parents are fair weather candy asses. It skips and chugs when confronted with torrential rain. It burps exhaust and omits oil as the Sea-to-Sky-and-back elevation tests the resolve of its tired gaskets. But not me. I am built for this land. I revel in the moisture and crisp coastal air. I believe precipitation has shaped our rugged topography, a landscape broken and jagged from glacial warfare. I embrace the rain with joyously wet and muddy mountain bike rides. I put my face into the strong, wet wind and I dive deep into thick coastal snowpack. I easily defeat seasonal affective disorder with strong caffeine doses and liberal outdoor prescriptions.
On the flip side, I sweat gratuitously in hot weather, even while standing still. I frighten easily at the sight of an endless, waterless horizon. I wilt at high altitude, my breath thin and asthmatic in the dry Colorado air, and my skin dry and itchy on the Great Plains. No, I am certain where I belong, and it is the rainforests and unpredictable surf of this western coast. It’s in the snow-hammered mountains, where powder is a relative term. This is where I live. That is if my car gets us there.” -mike berard, editor, coast mountain culture.