The "Cascade Curtain," as in ... a Berlin Wall or the Rio Grande River? Certainly the Cascade range does form a weather barrier between two sides of the state, west being a soggier, greener climate than the ecru, saharan section from cool Hyak to blistering Hell's Canyon.
For this writer who has lived in both parts for years, the "curtain" for me has meant more sunnier days with blue skies instead of bombing showers and a penitentiary-colored ceiling. The east's colors have been more engaging. On this side of the pass, the air is apple-crisp; here my nose supports Ray-Bans more often. I jog without splashing and generally walk through a day untinted by gray tones.
Choice of location can mean more than effects of weather: Some demographers might argue the eastern side of the state contains a larger gathering of conservative minds than the more liberally inclined western half of the state. Why this should be I'm not sure since there's just as much liberal in me as conservative -- being as 100 percent one way or another would suggest a crippling "curtain" of a different kind.
Which brings me to the one true impact the Cascades deliver -- keeping me from the insanity of the extended I-5 corridor. It has too many people, too much development, too hurried a lifestyle, far more traffic (how many more years before Puget Sound is paved), and more noise than inside a stadium during the FIFA World Cup.
I look at the Cascade Mountains and think "buffer." East of Easton is a place described by the poet Richard Hugo as being, "You are lost/in miles of land without people, without/one fear of being found, in the dash/of rabbits, soar of antelope, swirl/merge and clatter of streams."
I tell my neighbor, "There are lousier places to live," and he nods with a complicit yes.
-- BINK OWEN, Walla Walla