HAVE YOU SEEN IT?
Wondering if I could make it on my own, I directed my travel to Wallowa County, where my last good memories with Richard resided. Maybe I could determine what to do with my life with that connection in mind.
I arrived in Enterprise, Oregon, the night of October 30, 2013. Exhausted from the 2400 mile journey, I checked into the Ponderosa Motel, which I was pleased to discover was pet-friendly. My four-legged family members were with me: my little Aussie named Brownie, and Mosie, a calico cat.
Though I lived in the South for most of my life, my years in central Montana had taught me certain unspoken rules to adjust quickly as a newcomer to a small western community, the first being:
1. The best way to find out the character of a town is have breakfast at the local café.
So early the next morning I walked to Best Friends Restaurant on the other side of the courthouse. The “Junk Omelet” emblazoned on the window invited me to a good meal. I pretended to be interested in the art hanging on the walls as I waited for my order, but the truth is, I was listening.
Other patrons were excitedly showing the screens on their cell phones to each other, asking “Have you seen it?” When the door jingled and a familiar person entered, he was greeted by five phones raised in the air pointed toward him, “Have you seen it?” cried in unison. It took a few minutes, but I finally figured it out.
A moose had come to town.
I forced myself to stare at my breakfast and didn’t need to salt my omelet. My tears did the job, from quietly laughing in delight until my stomach folded in half.
I thought to myself, “Let’s see. Where I come from, most of the conversations are about unhappiness with the government, the Mideast conflict, the economy, poor health and Social Security. Here, today’s topic is a moose came to town.”
My heart smiled with delight, “I think I want to live here.”
In the days to follow, I spent time soaking in the landscape and questioning whether I could actually pull off a move halfway across the country. I would have to dig deep to find the courage to do this alone, and I had never thought of myself as a brave woman.
I sat at the foot of Wallowa Lake and remembered years ago Richard with his camera, searching for a spot to take the perfect photograph of that sublime scenery. What would he think?
“Absolutely!” my mind echoed with his deep voice and the image of his smiling face.
Originally published September 23, 2015 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.