It’s no secret that I love the rain. When the sun comes out after a week of clouds, fog and drizzle, and all of Yamhill Valley is out cavorting in the yellow glow, I’m slathering on sunscreen and rummaging for a hat. (Rainbows. Do Yamhill Valley natives know how lucky they are with the rainbows? I’ve seen three this month. Back east, I could go years without seeing one.)
Northwest Oregon has a rain-soaked reputation, but it’s actually pretty sunny here. Sun in December doesn’t seem to be all that rare, actually, but I’ve seen a lot of grown men walking around in shorts on those bright days. Hey, I’m always happy to find an excuse to celebrate! And then in spring in summer, there’s six months straight of warm, dry weather.
Those sunny breaks feel like gold when you’re working off a holiday belly, however.
So on a recent sunny day, my friend Jo and I decided to go for a nice, long, peaceful walk and soak up the sunshine. We drove out to Amity to check out the Brigittine Monastery. According to Wendy, who works there and is my new best friend because she brought me a plate of free fudge, it is the only Brigittine Monastery in the world. It’s a tiny affair — a couple of buildings, a small chapel lit by stained-glass windows and smelling of cedar and incense, all surrounded by farmland. The monks live mainly in silence. They sell chocolate — fudge and truffles — in an effort to be self-supported. There isn’t much to do at the monastery.
Which is its appeal.
Jo and I spent a few silent moments in the chapel, had a pleasant chat with Wendy, petted half a dozen cats — the monastery’s most visible and sociable residents — and went for a walk.
Amity is quiet and small, and you don’t have to drive far past it to be very much out in the country. The monastery is a perfectly lovely place to park and go hiking along dirt and gravel roads. The view is incomparable. Moss, ferns and trees are an excellent cure for stress. And that idyllic view is framed with hazy blue mountains. On a sunny day, a day with miles and miles of visibility, you absolutely must get out of the car and go for a walk. Try to drive through beauty like that and you’ll wind up in a ditch.
So, no, there isn’t much to do at the monastery. But somehow Jo and I spent a few delightful hours out there without a moment’s boredom.