by Sana Hayes

You know it is spring in Central Oregon when one day it is 55 degrees with a cold snowy wind blowing off the Cascade Mountain Range and the next day the temp rises to 75 degrees.

After sequestering myself inside for most of the winter due to my dislike and intolerance for cold temperatures, the opportunity to comfortably be outside means abandoning all indoor spring cleaning and spending some much-needed and well-deserved time outside.

It’s one thing to have a 75-degree day in the middle of summer…that’s expected. How special it is to partake of the rare day in April when the coming warmth surprises us with a preview. My energy level soars and I cannot wait to rake pine needles, pull weeds and drag out some patio furniture.

For those of us who love the sunshine of the dry side of Oregon, but adore even more the heat of our high-desert home, we pay the price of seven to eight months of “winter” for those four to five wonderful months of bright warm days. Here they come!

Lest you think I’ve been fooled into believing that there may not be yet another snow day, let me reassure you that I’ve lived with the unpredictability of Miss Mother Nature long enough to know otherwise. She is a fickle gal indeed. Having been raised by a dad who grew up on a farm, the phrase “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched” is a teaching never far from my heart.

When people complain to me about the ups and downs and sometimes dramatic changes in our weather here, I smile and remind them that this is still the Wild West and things are bound to be a little rugged at times. It’s part of the allure of Oregon. That wildness.

Yes, it takes a bit of fearlessness to inhabit the wilderness. Though our towns have carved out some large chunks of city, we all live within spitting distance of a national forest, state park or protected lands and waterways.

When you look at Oregon from the air, especially the east side, you realize how the critters have more right to call this place home than we humans do.

The other day, I was researching the origins of the popularity of the huckleberry in our region. Someone had asked me why this fruit is such a big deal here and I didn’t know, so I set about finding out. My query was rewarded with information that Native Americans, and countless others later, picked up to nine species of huckleberries native to Oregon.

They thrive in our forests at higher elevations and have been gathered around here for over 7,700 years. They ripen in abundance toward the end of August, but folks traveling in our touristy towns look for huckleberry anything all year long.

The clouds are now rolling over the tops of the Three Sisters bringing rain, the weather guessers tell us. Our glimpse into the crystal ball of our future was short-lived, but certainly encouraging that all the delights of summer, including the huckleberry, are on their way to us yet again.

— Sana Hayes is a free spirit, as comfortable in a tiara as she is in pajamas. She writes to better encounter the radiant self in each of us. Contact her at cowgirlsana@gmail.com .