Our fair city of West Linn has had the honor of making several different “Top [insert number here] cities for [X]”lists. We made the top 100 safest cities, top family friendly cities, best places to live, I think our schools have made the state’s top list and I may be wrong, but I think West Linn High School made a national list of best high schools. Those of us that live here understand why our unassuming little city, one of Portland’s many bedroom communities, is making all these lists. It’s really a sweet little city.
Now, my point is not to brag about West Linn, really it’s not, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, really I don’t, but I do think that someone has missed the boat on including us on a “nicest city” list somewhere. No, really! I have lived in several communities with a great ratio of nice people in my life, but I don’t think anything has ever approached West Linn. Heck, when I first got here, my biggest shock was that even the skateboarding teenage boys at the Safeway entrance apologized when they bumped into me. That’s so NOT the way we rolled in Southern California, but after 8+ years here, I see that’s totally endemic of how West Linn rolls.
Now, I don’t mean to suggest we’re perfect; certainly, we have our share of oblivious, rude idiots, but when I got a cake order call from Aly, a call from the clear blue from someone I’ve never met before, yet she’s so instantly friendly and warm, instantly feeling like a friend, I’m so not surprised. That’s very West Linn. We had a lovely conversation about cake, chocolate, lemon, frosting, acknowledging the general kindness and wonderfulness of a mutually known family, and while I know that her laughing suggestion that she was my new best friend was a joking exaggeration, I smiled because that’s so very much something I would say. And while maybe I might not literally mean “best friend”, I would absolutely mean “friend” and what I love about living here is that Aly and I are not the only ones who do, say, and mean that kind of thing.
West Linn is just that kind of place–small enough that you ought not flip off that slow driver on the road because you may be behind him or her in line at the grocery store, yet big enough that you don’t feel like everyone knows your business. Here, there are not 7 degrees of separation between people, it’s maybe 2 or 3. Or often, just 1 degree. I think it just fosters a certain degree of niceness among people–whether we realize it or not, we are always among friends.
Granted, it also helps to be discussing something like cake. I keep saying, “where there is cake, there is community” and this is exactly what I mean. Cake brings people together and 99% of the time, it brings people together for happy reasons. Why break bread together when you can share a cake? It brings strangers together, it brings friends together, it brings families together. Now, you can’t say that about a cupcake.
Oh, and by the way, Aly wisely chose the Apple Cake with Salted Caramel sauce and Browned butter frosting This cake is all about the balance between the familiar the formal–an excellent choice for a casual or elegant dinner for friends and family.