Weekend of Culture

If you’re considering a move to a rural area, brace yourself for the potential loss of cultural amenities that urban living offers. This past weekend they provided a glimpse into the rich tapestry of experiences that city dwellers can savor, from indulging in local cuisine and cocktails to immersing oneself in thought-provoking theater and vibrant communities.

A Culinary Odyssey

Friday evening kicked off with a leisurely 15-block stroll from our abode to the Wyndham Garden, where we delighted in a fresh salad of locally grown mixed greens and a sumptuous bowl of mussels and clams bathed in a coconut lemongrass broth. The Sapphire’s exceptional cocktail menu allowed us to savor expertly crafted Manhattans, featuring middle-shelf bourbon, imported bitters, vermouth, and house-marinated cherries.

Saturday evening brought us to the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, where their current program, “The Young Person’s Guide to the Gay Men’s Chorus,” offered a poignant history of these vocal ensembles across the United States. In the mid-1970s, many members concealed their identities on the roster, fearing job loss or persecution. During the 1980s, the chorus was devastated by the AIDS epidemic. Today, the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus thrives, with a handful of its 130 members identifying as straight and/or female, singing proudly without concealing their names.

Sunday’s matinee production of “A Lesson Before Dying” at Profile Theatre left a lasting impression. This adaptation of Earnest J. Gaines’ novel, set in the Jim Crow era of Louisiana, explored the notion of personal dignity within an unjust and discriminatory power structure. The diverse cast, comprising five African American and two white actors, brought this powerful narrative to life.

The Convenience of Urban Living

Throughout the weekend, we savored the conveniences of urban living. Short walks led us to specialty stores, where we procured organic, fair-trade coffee beans roasted by a local company, a loaf of warm olive como bread, and Oregon-grown goat cheese. Even a simple task like retrieving half-and-half for biscuits required just a six-block excursion to the “natural foods” grocery.

Chance encounters with friends added to the charm of our urban escapade. As our friend Sallie joined us for breakfast, our neighbor Ivy waved from the street, reinforcing the sense of community that permeates city life.

A Parting Thought

While rural living may offer its allure, the vibrant cultural landscape of urban areas is undeniable. From diverse culinary experiences and thought-provoking artistic performances to the convenience of specialty shops and the warmth of community, city living provides a richness that can be challenging to replicate in rural settings. However, as the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus’ upcoming Pendleton performance demonstrates, cultural enrichment can occasionally make its way to smaller towns, offering a taste of the urban experience.

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