Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rain on the Range

One should not complain about rain. Many good remarks were shared at Flora School Days yesterday regarding the benevolence of morning sun breaks as the heavy clouds marched overhead. The music was great, especially having the fiddlin' Fluit sisters from Upper Prairie Creek, Doc Woods on his trusty stand up bass, and a new mandolin player, Liz from Flora. Lucky for us, it didn't really rain until the activities concluded and then we scurried around packing up everything from butter churns to mules and plows.

And it's still raining. I hope my beans haven't decided to rot in the garden. One of the items that is a must for the pantry is a good supply of pickled beans. So I'm hoping those little bean plants are happily soaking up moisture instead of turning to mush.

Speaking of stocking the larder, I can't believe we are still eating onions from last year. These are the best keeper onions I've ever had. They are the same kind I've grown the last few years, yellow and red Spanish sweets, but for some reason they've held longer. I wish I could predict how curing, braiding and storing resulted in such longevity, but I can't. So I just praise each onion as it goes into the pan, firm and unsprouted.

I wonder how the cherries are fairing down on the Imnaha at Horse Creek. Last week they were nearly ripe and Gabe and I had to restrain ourselves from eating too many and suffering the result. If as much rain has fallen in the canyon as in the valley, the cherries are likely to have split. But there will be other cherries in the coming month. That is the beauty of food in Wallowa County. With our elevation gradient the opportunities to harvest are scattered across topography and season. First the canyon, then Imnaha, then Big Sheep, then the Valley. I can't wait.

After a well-deserved Fathers Day breakfast of four-grain sour-milk waffles with honey butter sauce (honey from Prairie Creek), Mike and I are off to the Zumwalt again. We have a couple heifers who would like to join the herd on the summer range.

It will be good to breathe in the fragrance of wet prairie, but I will look out across the canyon breaks and part of me will still long to be at Horse Creek. It's a time of transition, this migration that gets in your bones, feeling the pull from one ecotype to another, from one cow camp to the next. We count our blessings to still be here, following the circle, remembering those who were here before us and those who will come behind.