Saturday, February 19, 2011

You know you're from Roseburg when...

Now that I’ve been living in the ‘burg for a while, it’s kind of scary how used to it I’ve become. When we moved here back in 1997 the culture shock was so strong that I told my husband I would try it for a year but then we might need to move back to a big city.

Fourteen years later I love living here and don’t regret making the decision to stay, but I quickly forgot how strange this “new world” felt at first. In a lot of ways, it was not unlike moving to a different country altogether, I kid you not. It’s not that one world was better than the other, just very different, and I had a hard time acclimating.

For example, I had never heard people refer to anything with four wheels as a “rig” before I moved to Roseburg. The first time someone asked me if I was taking my rig up to the mountains I asked, “You mean my Camry?” Yep, apparently he did.

Those fish-out-of-water feelings all came back to me when I was talking to a co-worker recently. He and his family moved from the East Coast a few months ago, and he was telling me about attending his first fundraiser at his kids’ school.

“I kept noticing that there were all these people around a fenced in area watching a cow,” he said. “I asked my wife, ‘Hey, why are they all watching a cow?’ She just said, ‘Oh, it’s to raise money.’ Turned out there were numbers on the ground inside the pen, and they were waiting to see where the cow would poop to see if their number won.”

He paused a minute, then said, “At that moment I thought to myself where in the heck have we moved?”

All I could do was smile and say, “Welcome to Roseburg.”

When we first moved here, every transplanted person I met gave me the same advice: Give yourself two years and you’ll love it. So I gave him the same advice.

But those first two years are tough, and for me, I remember wondering if I’d ever feel at home.

So I decided to give my co-worker a list of things to check off. The idea is that when he and his family members answer “yes” to any of these statements, they are that much closer to becoming a full-fledged Roseburger, for better or for worse.
I wanted to complete the sentence “You know you’re from Roseburg when…” but I couldn’t do it alone. So I enlisted help from other transplanted Roseburgers (and a token native) and here’s what we came up with.

You know you’re from Roseburg when…
• Your kids think that the word “Umpqua” is a Native American term meaning “ice cream.”
• You refer to home as “the ‘burg.”
• You finally start to pronounce Oregon correctly.
• You’ve floated the river in the summer.
• You don’t even bat an eye when you find a wild turkey walking around your front yard.
• Your kids can’t wait to ride the escalators and elevators in Eugene or Portland.
• You’ve spent time climbing on the Stewart Park train.
• You’ve attended a concert at Music on the Half Shell.
• You’ve taken a tour of the Umpqua Valley wineries.
• You think that one inch of snow should result in schools being closed.
• You find yourself wearing sandals with socks and you’re okay with it.
• You purchase an item with camo print.
• It doesn’t surprise you anymore when you see a real cowboy on horseback working a ranch.
• You’ve use the term “git ‘er done” without irony.
• You say “Melrose place” in reference to a favorite hunting spot, not a TV show.
• You realize that Crater Lake is a little slice of heaven on earth.

Eileen Burmeister has settled in Roseburg where she lives, works and gives advice to co-workers whether they want it or not. She can be reached at

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