Sunday, September 11, 2011

Palouse . . . eye candy

Let’s just say my traveling companion (the same one who’s been on the journey with me for nearly half-a-century) was skeptical when I proposed we take a short trip to Palouse Country in eastern Washington State

“You’ve seen one wheat field, you’ve seen them all," he said.

But after we returned home from our three day drive around that region, he was a convert. And I was as enraptured as I thought I'd be. You see, after living in Washington for much of my life, I had never spent any adult time visiting that southeastern corner of the state. I'd heard about it from friends who've lived or attended college in the area. My friend and proud Washington State University alumna, Karen Gorini, shared her fond recollections of the region's haunting beauty in one of many phone conversations we had in the last year of her life. "The Palouse just gets under your skin," she said, "and wish I could see it one last time." I found myself thinking of Karen a lot during our trip, missing her even more than I usually do.

Yes, Palouse Country has a mystique that’s hard to pinpoint. Is it the light? the nuance of topography? the patterns that cultivation and harvests create? Or is the determination of farmers who have figured out how to make an arid land (annual rainfall 9”) so incredibly productive? Maybe it’s everything—the spirit of the land that infiltrates its beauty into the eye of the beholder like so much wheat dust.

The area is completely different from what people might think who've seen our state’s automobile license-plates with their slogan: The Evergreen State. If you don't know about The Palouse, take a few minutes to check out this photography site , one of many Web sites filled with photos of the region clothed in different crops and seasons.   

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