Each year on St. Patrick’s Day my wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. 18 years ago on St. Patrick’s day we eloped and were married at the Chapel of the Bells on 4thStreet in Reno. Ten minutes earlier there had been a funeral in the same chapel, and I was so broke I couldn’t even afford the VHS tape of the nuptials. Two decades later I wouldn’t change a thing.
Busy days here on the Figure 8. The first order of business has been to compile an accurate BDA (Battle Damage Assessment) following a series of snowstorms that camped over Central Oregon in late February and early March. So far the damage has been significant. Both the turkey and chicken pens collapsed under the weight of snow. The birds are fine because when there is 3 feet of snow on the ground they don’t come out of the henhouse. They are uppity that way.
Out here in the mountain west water is always precious, particularly when living on the east side of any of the hundreds of mountain ranges between the Sierra‐Cascades and the Rockies. Out here, the east side of anything is always the drier side, the rain‐shadow side, and so eastsiders live within a perpetual loop of drought and diminishing returns. The diminishing returns are a result of aggressive settlement beyond the 100thMeridian, which is desert, and has been a desert since before the end of the last Ice Age.
I stopped believing the weather woman about 2 months ago. This was a deliberate act of rebellion because riding the prediction roller coaster was damaging my nerves and upsetting the dogs. Calls for snow this winter have too often dissembled into blue skies, warm chinooks, and mud in the paddocks, and although I have sympathy for anyone who signs up to predict the weather in Central Oregon my stores of good humor were used up three fake storms ago.
After a delay in recording brought on by the horrors of technology, Craig, Jim, and “Oil Can” Rathbun are back in the bunkhouse on the historic Figure 8 Ranch to bring you another episode of the Running Iron Podcast. In this episode Lane Jacobson, owner of Paulina Springs Bookstore in Sisters, Oregon, sits down for a wide‐ranging discussion about books, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and his vision for what a great small‐town bookstore looks like.
On a clear day from Winter Ridge, high above the broad expanse of Summer Lake in south‐central Oregon, it is possible to look far into the eastern desert at a low‐slung formation called 5 Mile Point. It was way out there, in 1937, that archaeologist Luther Cressman began excavating the Paisley Caves. Today, the U.S. Forest Service maintains a tidy cabin up on Winter Ridge, at the place where John C. Fremont came out of the woods in the winter of 1843 and first beheld the breathtaking reach of the Great Basin.