Welcome to Juneuary

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer June 06, 2012 01:20 pm

It’s a little known fact that Costco sells enough toilet paper every year to circle the world 12 times.

It’s also a little known fact that the Northeast Oregon calendar has 13 months.

Between June and July is Juneuary. It’s a time of flood watches, high elevation snow and the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show storm.

“It’s supposed to be summer,” the young stock clerk complained.

More experienced souls know that Northeast Oregon weather is strange. April is drier than May or June.

Mosquitoes here have to learn to fly waterlogged.

Some days the rain falls harder than others. On Monday, heading home from La Grande to Cove, I saw some of the largest raindrops ever: the size of silver dollars.

At the same time the sky rumbled with thunder.

Just a typical EOLS storm.

Home-built waterfalls

A friend in Union said rain was cascading over the top of his rain gutters. It reminded me of a day several years back when my late wife, Tina, and I huddled at an EOLS hamburger stand watching a waterfall roar off the roof of a building and wondering if we would need an ark to get home.

I’m no stranger to rain. Where I grew up, in a box canyon near Eugene, we got 66 inches of rain a year. We had as many names for rain as Eskimos have for snow. We had mist, showers, rain, gullywashers and much more.

Juneuary in Northeast Oregon is much the same. It’s cold. It’s wet. The rain at times replaces the air. Cowboys riding short horses wear snorkels.

After years of experiencing the Hog Wild storm, the weekend of the Island City celebration, and the EOLS storm, I’ve come to realize the truth. Summer in Northeast Oregon doesn’t follow the calendar. It starts July 5.

You shiver through fireworks and then the sun emerges and the annual drought begins. How wet I am. How dry I’ll be.