Oregon is the true state for lovers

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer February 14, 2014 09:46 am

The commonwealth of Virginia has produced many fine folks: presidents George Washington, the father of our country, Thomas Jefferson, the uncle of our country, Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson and my mentor, Sandra Busey.

Since 1969, Virginia, hoping to corner the tourism trade, has proclaimed itself to be for lovers.

I beg to differ. Oregon is the true state for lovers. Today, on Valentine’s Day, Oregon is celebrating its 155th birthday, and all residents are invited to the party. A retardant drop has been called in to extinguish the candles.

Yes, Oregon is getting older. It’s got thinning hair, or at least trees, from the many clearcuts the state is infamous for, and spotted owls if not spotted hands. Its wrinkly elbows don’t find as much room as they used to as the population swells. Still, Geritol is not yet the state beverage, and prunes are not the state food.

Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day, flying as high as a Sochi snowboarder. That and a lot of rain. Oregon has as many words for rain as Eskimos have for snow. Rain is a great opportunity for gentlemen to show off their romantic sides by holding umbrellas over the heads of their beloved as they step ankle deep into mud puddles.

The stores sell a lot of Valentine’s cards, but no “happy birthday, Oregon” cards. The pressure is on to get the right gift, whether that is chocolates, diamonds or a Shop Vac, to show your beloved that you like them even more than watching broadcast host Bob Costas at the Winter Olympics suffering from an eye infection.

The problem for many of us is how to say I love you without emptying the piggy bank and later facing a mountain of unpaid bills.

One solution is to enter the Powerball lottery. The only problem is that we are more likely to be struck by lightning out of a clear sky than to win the jackpot. Besides, people from places like Virginia usually win, and we are left in Oregon to ask God why life is unfair. God’s reply? It could be worse. You could be a Georgia Power customer during an ice storm.

The best option, it seems, is to do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Celebrate Oregon. Celebrate Valentine’s. Love that you get to live in this great state, burn its firewood, eat its blackberries. Watch its herds of elk, fed up by snow, marching single file toward California and less humid winters.

Oregon is for lovers of music, including great bands like Quarterflash and bands with crazy names like Napalm Beach, Blind Pilot and Wet Confetti.

Oregon is for lovers of hunting and fishing.

Oregon is for lovers of sports. There’s the Trail Blazers’ world championship, of course, with the big redheaded carrot-juice drinking Bill Walton. There’s also track legends such as high jumper Dick Fosbury, who invented the Fosbury flop, and Steve Prefontaine, who once held the American record in seven long-distance events and said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

Oregon is even for lovers of politics. Take Tom McCall, for instance. The former governor was famous for setting up a rock concert, Vortex 1, nicknamed “the governor’s pot party,” in 1970 to reduce the odds of a riot at the American Legion convention in Portland.

McCall was also famous for the beach bill, the bottle bill, land use planning and the 1971 comment, “Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live.”

Virginia may be a great state. No one can deny the breathtaking beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Vernon and the Eastern Shore. But Oregon can give it a run for its money in the love department.

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.