We did our annual sojourn to Idaho the first of this month. Later than usual, but when I checked the weather there in July they were experiencing days of 100 degrees and over and as much as I like heat, I knew I couldn’t stand that, and the bugs. Not just mosquitoes, all kinds of bugs, and the dust, so we decided to wait awhile to make the trip. It was still 80 degrees when we arrived, much to everyone’s surprise — even the locals. We had hoped to experience a nice Indian Summer, but the trees hadn’t even began to turn yet, and a frost wasn’t anywhere on the horizon.
The flight across Washington state, free glass of wine included, was easy, although I had not expected the vast expanses of brown. We usually make the trip in summer when the fly-over is a patchwork of greens and yellows stitched together with a river or an irrigation canal. This time the creek bottoms and farmsteads were the only spots of green in the landscape that varied from the lightest beige to chocolate brown in the many shapes of tilled land and deep coulees. Quite a contrast between summer and fall.
But when we stepped off the plane at Pullman/Moscow we could have been in Alaska, except for the temperature. Gas was well over $5 a gallon, pumpkins were stacked in the grocery stores, and political signs decorated every vacant lot and drive way along the road. Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho are a lot like Alaska, both socially and politically. The guy on the street is much more concerned with the price of gas, why he can carry $100 worth of groceries out in two small bags, and where his kids are and what they are doing than he is with Jan. 6 or climate change.
They watched unfettered riots and violence tear up the two biggest cities in the area during the summer of 2020 with no intervention or punishment of the instigators and wondered about priorities. They are loggers and farmers; they live climate change. Their livelihoods depend on their accepting it and understanding it. They grew up with stories of the winter of ‘49 and that year it rained all summer. Or with dad working Hoot Owl (overnight) in the woods to minimize the risk of fire during the summer. They know it can’t be stopped and they didn’t cause it, so go with it. Like most Alaskans, they understand background noise and have learned to block it out so they can hear the important stuff.
We only stayed a week this time. Shorter than usual but despite the summery weather, it is October. The community celebrations were over; the visitors who come home for the summer have gone back to where ever they migrated to; it’s hunting season so no one has time to visit and the kids are playing sports so grandpa and grandma are busy on the weekends. Our real reasons for the sojourn were completed: We saw the sibs who were all OK, and wrapped up a couple of loose ends that will undoubtedly be flapping again before our next trip out. And we did manage to see a couple of old friends who stayed at home to hold down the fort while the rest of us went off to seek our fortunes. They filled us in on the gossip of classmates and friends they saw over the summer and promised they are still coming to Alaska “one of these days.”
The trip west was easy. There was snow in the Cascades that hadn’t been there a week earlier, so winter is in the air there, too, despite the unseasonable warmth. The plane coming north had empty seats, nearly unheard of lately, but another signal it’s not summer anymore. We were here by 9:30 p.m. Granddaughter #7 picked us up at the airport and delivered us home.
We got here in time for a couple of October celebrations and all the Halloween stuff this weekend. Also the political phone calls and lots of mail from candidates along with the T.V. messages about rank choice voting. We’ll have a few trick or treaters on Monday, then settle in for the last week of politicking before we vote on November 8.
Then it will be time for the headlong dash into the holiday season. We’ll chat again just after Thanksgiving. By then we’ll know our political future (at least for two years) and have settled in for whatever winter will bring. We will be full of turkey and ready to start the dash toward Christmas and end of the year festivities. We are always glad to be home!