My husband and I met in New York City. Some people thrive on the energy of New York. They can appreciate the diversity and resiliency and culture of the city. It turns them into better people. For others, however - like myself - it turns them into miserable, self-important neurotics. I have a friend who told me she knew it was time to leave the city when a cashier at the grocery store asked her how one of the cereals she picked out tasted, to which she responded, "Why don't you shut the eff up and do your job?" Except she didn't say eff.
I never quite got to that point, but it was brewing. So my husband and I packed up for a magical land where the rivers ran amber with artisanal brews; where chickens named Hunter and Hazel walked alongside children of the same name. Yes that's right: Portland, Oregon.
The other day, though, when my daughter (age three) explained to me, "I can eat gluten and not gluten," I realized that no matter where my kids grow up, they will be viewing the world through a lens. It's just the Portland lens is made through organic, sustainable practices. Here are just a few of the things my kids - and all Portland kids - have ingrained in them from an early age.
1. How to think theoretically. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist: atoms, molecules, germs. And in the case of Portlanders from October to May - the sun. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Portland kids manage to grasp the concept that the sun is real.
2. The difference between cool and uncool facial hair. Nah, just kidding - it's all cool! Except perhaps for mama's chin hair.
3. How to recycle everything. No Portland childhood is complete without making an art project out of recycled pinot noir corks, artisan beer caps and free-range egg containers.
4. The eight houses within a quarter mile that have chickens. Especially the ones that have chickens without their wings clipped. Not much more exciting than a chicken on the top of a fence. On one side: free-range, organic goodness. On the other: well, free-range, organic goodness.
5. How to dye eggs using only dandelions and beets. Portland kids say pshaw to Paas in these parts.
6. 101 uses for coconut oil. It's a soothing skin balm! It makes quinoa-kale salads even more delicious! It makes the slides go super fast! It can give your hair that "I haven't washed it in four days" look that's all the rage among our budding little hipsters!
7. How to ride a bike. By age four. Kids get strider bikes before they can walk in these parts. Biking is a big deal y'all. It also has the extra appeal of allowing kids to begin assessing their fossil fuel consumption choices.
8. How to wear a baby. Portland kids don't do strollers for their dolls. They take their tie-dyed bandanas and wear those babies. As an added bonus, those bandanas can double as cloth diapers.
9. The best acupuncturist (and craniosacral therapist and naturopath), by quadrant. As well as how long the wait list is to get in to see them. And which essential oils to use in the meantime.
10. The name of all the things in the CSA box. Kids in these parts take their community-supported agriculture very seriously. Kale may be met with joy; mustard greens with derision.
All right, Portlanders. What would you add to the list?