ROOSTER AVAILABLE TO GOOD HOME
Years earlier, Richard had convinced me others would enjoy my writing, which I only considered a hobby. I then had a few things published in Montana. But I parked my writing when we moved to the Deep South.
Pondering my future in Wallowa County, I wondered if I could write again. Thus the decision: I would not introduce myself as an engineer, which had been my career, but as a writer, just to see where that would take me.
I asked a docent at the Josephy Center in Joseph about available housing in the area. She gave me the address of a writer friend who was about to move from a rental. This led me to Ruth Wineteer and though the house had already been rented, we had a delightful conversation about the writing life.
The weekend approached, and loneliness crept in. I awoke Sunday morning thinking, “I’ve GOT to meet some good people.” Ruth had mentioned she attended Joseph United Methodist Church. Although I didn’t identify myself with that organization, I drove there hoping I could sit with her.
I have a long history in the Bible Belt of the South, where it appears sedate church people attend strict religious services with somber countenances. The culture is such that once a local asks a newcomer, “What’s your name?” the next question is, “Where do you go to church?”
Seated by Ruth, I observed the microphone being passed around for attendees to ask for prayer or to praise answered prayer. A lady with a long white ponytail on the front row spoke.
“I have a rooster named Fred who is causing trouble in the hen house. I don’t feel like plucking him, but he is good for eating. So if anyone wants a rooster to stick in the pot, they can come get him. I just don’t have time to pluck him.”
The rooster announcement caught me off guard, and I fought the giggles. Ruth afterwards introduced me to Fred’s owner, Janie Tippett.
I had never met a real author and I purchased Janie’s book, Four Lines A Day, where the life of Imnaha’s Mary Marks is recounted. I was enthralled with how this western woman lived, especially how she packed into the wilderness to cook for her husband’s cow camp. The full impact of Mary’s resilience, courage and resourcefulness became apparent when I wound through the canyons on the highway to Imnaha.
Renting a U-Haul was definitely how my belongings would be transported to Wallowa County. Until I read 4 Lines A Day, I doubted my ability to drive a loaded truck alone across the country.
But after turning the last page, I thought, “If Mary could do what she did, I can do this, too.”
Originally published October 7, 2015 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.