Dog days arrive early, with bark

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer June 07, 2013 10:42 am
Blame global warming. Climate change. Vengeful monkeys.

Whatever happened to the Hog Wild Days and Eastern Oregon Livestock Show storms?

June is supposed to be misery mixed with ecstasy. This year, however, the endless drizzle leading up to Hog Wild Days magically ended as the Lions’ hog train pulled out of the depot. Amazing.

Eskimos have 39 words for snow. Northeastern Oregonians have 39 words for June rain, most of them unprintable.

While the Hog Wild Days and EOLS parades commence, clouds in need of anger management counseling generally parade in from the Pacific Ocean. It’s a long parade. It generally doesn’t end until the July 4 fireworks.

Usually, June is as air-conditioned as an old homesteader’s barn. This year, we are in a sweat shop. Day after day of sunshine and complaints about the heat and excitable mosquitoes.

Generally, Northeast Oregon weather is as exciting as watching pigs wallow. We’re no Oklahoma. No death and destruction from tornadoes packing 200 mph winds, distributing the roofs of houses and assorted cows over the prairie.

We’re used to June in the Grande Ronde Valley with clouds flying low so as to obscure the mountains and make us look more like Iowa, except without the 900-pound pigs.

With the abundance of blue skies, we’re getting gee-whiz views we don’t usually get until after Independence Day. Then, Mother Nature normally turns off the spigots. All the green, overnight, turns gold. Greenhorns paying $700 a week to be part of cattle drives on dude ranches this year are at risk of turning into goldhorns.

What is this peachy light of early morning? What are these cherry orchards dappled in sunlight and fruit flies? What is this UFO, this pervasive carcinogen, the sun?

The twitchy spring breezes have gone away. The squally spring weather is a distant memory. And we aren’t even to summer solstice yet.

What wind there is seems to be herding the cumulus clouds over the eastern horizon and out of sight.

It seems too early in the year for the phantom storms to arrive. You know the ones. They look as if they might bring rain, but then as quickly disintegrate.

At this rate, it will be a long summer. It’s the kind of summer firefighters dream of, and the rest of us welcome with newly sunburned arms.

Sure, we could fret about global warming. However, fretting seems about as useful as pouring perfume on a pig. We need to take action. We need to eat local. Drive less. Ride horseback to Hog Wild Days and the EOLS. At $4 a gallon gas, the horse is again in vogue.

We can also ask our cows not to burp so much. That alone generates 50 million tons of methane gas annually. With 1.2 billion cows on earth, that’s a lot of burping.

Dog Days in June? Amazing.