LET’S GO FOR A WALK
“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
If this is true, Wallowa County is having giggle fits.
This is my second Spring at this residence and my lilacs are stunning. Their heady fragrance nearly knocks me down when I step out the door. Most are lavender and white, but some are a deep purple that a neighbor says is the old-fashioned kind.
I think she’s right. Last week I was wandering around the pioneer cemetery next to the Joseph Airport where a clump of similar purple lilacs is nestled in the center. Seeing some headstones suffocating under the thick growth, I pushed my way through and found dates of death in the late 1800’s. I don’t know if lilacs can live over 100 years, but their thick trunks showed they’d been there a very long time.
A drive to the head of Wallowa Lake in the afternoon is problematic in that it’s hard to keep my eyes on the road. The water on my right is mirror-smooth. On my left shimmer the sunshine yellow blossoms of arrowleaf balslmroot carpeting the East Moraine. They seem to go forever.
I let Petey have a good run at the Little Alps park while I ramble around. The river is up, and the rush of tumbling waters echoes up the mountain walls into the trees, making me feel like I’m in the river itself, though not getting wet.
The upturned faces of forget-me-not's greet me as I near the river bed. Squirrels scold Petey, enticing him to a chase. I laugh at his run which is randomly interrupted by a springy bounce that makes him airborne. The squirrels always win.
A side stream has been created by the elevated river level, and I cross on a weathered log. Since I moved to Wallowa County and have made several hikes, my balance has improved immensely from several log-crossings. This skill is a necessity if I’m to live near so many trails.
I’m amazed to find pale wallflowers poking up between the river rocks. I visited this spot countless times during the winter, never suspecting these lemon-colored surprises were underneath the snow and ice, waiting for Spring.
Calling Petey, we head toward the bridge on the Chief Joseph Trail. Pink fairy slippers and yellow wood violets ornament the side of my path.
Tears well up inside- I am so thankful I get to live here.
Originally published May 11, 2016 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.