Weekend of Culture

If you are thinking about moving to a rural place and take regular advantage of the cultural amenities of the city, you might have a problem. I submit for your consideration the extremely urban weekend Mike and I just had:

On Friday evening, we walked 15 blocks from our house to the Sapphire Hotel and shared a fresh salad of locally grown mixed greens and a big bowl of mussels and clams in a coconut lemongrass broth. The Sapphire has fantastic cocktails; we enjoyed Manhattans made with middle-shelf bourbon, imported bitters and vermouth, and house-marinated cherries.

On Saturday evening, we attended the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. The current program is called The Young Person’s Guide to the Gay Men’s Chorus; part of the program gives a history of this and other gay men’s choruses in the United States. When these choruses started forming in the mid-1970s, many members withheld their names from the roster for fear of losing their jobs or facing other forms of persecution. In the 1980s, the PGMC was decimated by the AIDS epidemic. Today, the chorus is thriving—and a handful of the 130 members are straight and/or female. None sings with his/her name withheld.

Today, I attended Profile Theatre’s matinee production of A Lesson Before Dying. Set in Jim Crow Louisiana, this play (an adaptation of the novel by Earnest J. Gaines) deals with the idea of personal dignity within a discriminatory and unjust power structure. Five of the cast members were African American and two were white.

On three separate occasions over the weekend, Mike or I took a short walk to a specialty store. On Saturday morning, I bought a bag of organic, fair-trade coffee beans roasted by a local company. Later in the day, I picked up a loaf of still-warm olive como bread and a tub of Oregon-grown goat cheese. When Mike realized he needed half-and-half to make biscuits, he walked to the “natural foods” grocery six blocks from our house.

While our friend Sallie sat with us this morning for breakfast (she had walked over from her house), our friend Ivy walked past our window and waved.

If you move to a rural area, having this kind of weekend will probably be impossible. Not only will you lack the leisure time (you’ve got a barn to muck out), these amenities may not exist.

Then again, maybe they will. The PGMC is bringing their “Young Person’s” program to Pendleton in April.

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