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Lure of the little: Hunkering for huckleberries

We drove up past the drought-shrunken Wolf Creek Reservoir last Sunday, hunting for the forest’s smallest and sweetest quarry.

Huckleberries.

Which at least offset their diminutive nature by being far more numerous than, say, elk.

Slower, too.

And although the successful pursuit of either can leave you with slimy hands, the innards of berries are notably less unpleasant than the equivalent parts of an elk.


An autumn preview during the middle of July

I lay in my bed at dusk of a recent day, listening to the tranquil patter of a gentle rain tapping the kids’ plastic picnic table outside.

Nature, which boasts an infinite repertoire, to my ear conjures few sounds more pleasant or more soothing.

This liquid melody, alas, is one rarely heard at any season in our high but arid valley, where quite a lot of the moisture we do get falls silently, if beautifully, as snow.


Summerís real arrival; and the Popeís big coup

I don’t wish to quarrel with the calendar or with the weather, but for me summer arrived neither on the solstice nor on the first day when even the shade failed to soothe.

The season barged in Monday afternoon while I was driving west on Auburn toward my house.


Potís quiet debut; and flags dominate the news

Day 3 of Oregon’s great marijuana experiment has arrived and I have yet to detect a miasma of patchouli wafting over Baker City, or a cacophony of the Grateful Dead reverberating through the streets.

I’m not surprised that this legal milestone has thus far been marked by mellowness.

Pot tends to induce a certain placidity in most people, after all, unless there’s a platter of burritos nearby.


A peak glimpse; and Baker voters mix on pot

Grand mountains crowd Baker City, and I can scarcely imagine the place without these looming masses of stone that quicken the sunset and stay the sunrise by more than half an hour depending on the season.

But sometimes the peaks, rather than dominating the scene, insert themselves with rather more subtlety.

This approach sacrifices grandeur for surprise — a fair enough trade as anyone knows who has had a loved one’s face appear in an unexpected place.

Of the two ranges that dominate the view from Baker Valley, the Elkhorns, by virtue of proximity, are more imposing than the Wallowas, which are taller but more than twice as distant.

But there is a particular place in town, a spot I walk past a couple times each week, that always delights me even though it affords a brief glimpse of just a smidgen of the Wallowas.


New book shatters myth of campus tolerance

I recently finished a book that I think was intended to make me mad but instead left me, in the main, feeling sad.

The book is “The Silencing: How The Left Is Killing Free Speech.” The author is Kirsten Powers, a registered Democrat and self-proclaimed liberal.


Wireless world: except for a certain umbilical cord

We live in a wireless world.

Until the rechargeable batteries that power our app-laden appendages spit out their last electron.

At that unpleasant moment we’re as dependent on a wire as a 1940s family huddled around their console Philco radio and listening to “Hopalong Cassidy."


Bakerís beer, past and present; and rock history

Brewing beer is easy.

Brewing beer that a reasonable person would drink — without being threatened, or paid a significant sum to risk his liver — is more complicated.


Nonaffiliated voters stayed away from Measure 1-63

Two groups of Baker County voters who might have benefited from making the three county commissioner positions nonpartisan didn’t take advantage of their opportunity.

At least not many of them did.


A robinís construction zone, outside my window

A major construction project is happening three feet from my bedroom window, but the only sound so far has been an occasional tweet.

And I don’t mean Twitter.

The builder is a female American robin.

At least I think it’s a female.

It’s definitely a robin — any 4-year-old can distinguish one of those from other songbirds — but my grasp of avian anatomy is too weak to confirm gender.


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