Season of anticipation
The willow trees are yellow in the Wallowa Valley and I have to admit it takes me by surprise. Each year I go through a period of doubt that the trees will ever blossom and leaf out — so when they do, I am in awe.
It was finally warm and dry enough to mow the lawn, weed the volunteer spinach patch in the garden and hang clothes on the line — celebrations of warmer weather.
Spring is a multi-faced temptress: snow one day, sunny the next. Keep your ski coat handy and the flip flops by the front door.
When the days are perfect for yard work, they are equally perfect for goofing off. Or in my case, sitting under a tree and writing about my summery thoughts of swimming in Wallowa Lake, walking in the mountains and beachside afternoons on the Lostine River.
Spring is the season of anticipation.
Summer is the busiest time of year for Wallowa County news, so spring is also the season of calm before the storm.
This morning I pulled on my boots, threw on my jeans and a western shirt and my Chief Joseph Days ball cap to cover a 68-year spring rite of passage, the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo Court tryouts. I was fairly giddy hearing the voice of Lee Daggett announcing the contestants and the music as I approached the rodeo grounds — that same giddiness that the first snow of the winter or the first swim in the lake brings.
The chief mambo of the summer, the last full weekend of July, is on the horizon and Saturday was its inaugural event.
I crawled on top of the fence and shot pictures of our rodeo court with the Wallowas in the background. As luck would have it, the haze broke and the sun shone on three well-poised horse women as they took turns putting their horses through their paces. These girls can ride well and fast — as they fire past on 1,200 pounds of speed freak I back up from the rail, splattered by clumps of dirt and dust. Exhilarating!
At coffee last week it was said that there’s no relationship like that between a girl and her horse and I believe it. These girls’ love for their animals moved them to work diligently the last six months to perform their best for Saturday’s tryouts and to be ambassadors of the county all summer long.
No court I’ve seen rides better or is better clad thanks to accomplished seamstresses Denise Cuppinger and Debbie Short and the eye for style by rodeo committee members Teah Jones and Cammie Hale. Each year I covet the custom-made Pendleton jackets the girls wear, this year in a gorgeous mossy green.
And so it begins ... preparations for the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo — just weeks after the June 15 Mountain High Broncs and Bulls Rodeo in Enterprise and the end of June Ranch Rodeo at the Joseph rodeo grounds. The week following Chief Joseph Days is the county fair and the weekend after that, the Stockgrowers Rodeo with working dogs and muley roping.
Ah, summer. It can’t get here soon enough.