SPRING IS ON HER WAY
By Kat Stickroth
It began two weeks ago with the whisper of wings just above my head. Looking up, I saw my first robin. Redwing blackbirds grace cattails now, their songs cheering up the valley.
Last week, I noticed crocuses peeking up at the Enterprise Post Office. This morning, my own crocuses have made their appearances. Apricot trees scattered along Sheep Creek are full of blushing pink blooms.
And then there are the buttercups.
This is my third winter in Wallowa County. My first two winters were “open,” that is, mild with snow coming, then melting, coming then melting. I love a beautiful snowfall and each time I’d tell one of my oldtimer friends, “It’s snowing! Isn’t it beautiful?!”
“You’ll get over it,” he quietly said with a smile.
This winter the snow fell and fell and fell. Then did not melt- for months. And I did get tired of it. Trying to get to spring early, in January I headed for Cow Creek on the lower Imnaha River. Seeing just a bit of green as I wound below the rims, I often stopped to search for buttercups, the official harbinger of spring here in Wallowa County. None.
Another trip to Cow Creek in February, this time to go fishing. Sightings of two herd of elk- yes. Lemon colored flowers beaming from the hillsides- no.
But last week, an acquaintance told me she saw buttercups on the hill next to the new construction of the Christian church building along the highway between Joseph and Enterprise. After three trips I finally gazed upon hundreds of buttercups covering the slope.
Friday, a friend and I were in the canyons. She drove where she was sure there were buttercups. First pass, none were in sight. But after turning around, she spotted her first one. And I spied a second one nearby.
Among some Imnaha residents, there is a friendly competition to see who will find the first buttercup. When one of two elderly neighbors in that area had to move into the Senior Living Center, her devoted friend brought her his first buttercup.
There’s something about a shot of sunshine bursting from the ground in a simple yellow flower that offers a promise that winter is leaving. Spring is on her way, bringing buckets of flowers to bless us with hope- of verdant pastures, luscious gardens, new friends, and possibly love.
Have you found your buttercup?
Originally published March 9, 2016 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.