Monday morning. It has been hard to see the morning for the fog. On the coast, we used to measure fogs in terms of utility poles that were in sight on our side of the road. This morning was a rarity because in places there are one-pole stretches, and from here to Mazama never more than three poles visible at a time.
This also spelled a warming period — mild temperatures on the heels of heavy rain most of Sunday. It’s been a long time since there was a sustained rainfall, and it will be a beneficial addition to the ground water level. At the salmon habitat project, where no water is reportedly coming from underground, and none from the river, there are small lakes being fed from the culvert-sized pipes now covered with earth and 40-foot logs.
The bear, or bears, seem to have given up on demolishing the apples that grew in never-before-seen numbers on the old homestead tree. Between our sharing buckets of fruit and the large numbers that fell off the tree, for about two weeks there has been a nightly visitation of diarrhea-affected bruins. Their departure will end the daily baths and raking of the dog, who gleefully rolls in the mess, also described as organic mousse.
We have had sporadic visits to the pond by a lone female mallard. It would seem an anomaly that she is hanging around while the rest of her breed has flown south, and we suspect this one is an annual visitor who knows where to find a handout of corn kernels to dabble after in the shallows.
Last Friday, the day before deer hunting season opened, while driving to Mazama a few minutes after 7 a.m., it was surprising to encounter about 20 vehicles headed toward Winthrop. At this early time, there are rarely more than three. As the day progressed, the numbers grew. All the locals we spoke with claimed this was the greatest onslaught they’d ever seen. Ms. Gloria speculated that the fires had cleared so much land it brought the shooters, who thought it would be easier to spot the deer.
Most of the day I resisted counting cars. This venture has for a couple of decades consisted of tabulating outgoing vehicles on Memorial and Labor days, always at the same time in the morning. This time it was a special day and worthy of its own count: that of incoming rather than outgoing traffic.
So from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday I set up a rudimentary counting station, “rudimentary” meaning I had no seat other than an upturned worm-raising box. Had this been an invading army it would have been frightening. Come to think about it, it was exactly that.
The number headed toward Winthrop was 251, 147 of these driving by in the first 30 minutes. Westbound that hour were a mere 81 vehicles.
These were the precise numbers. By guesstimation, I’d say one-third of the eastbounds were pickups pulling trailers. The trailers ranged from camping rigs to utility pull-behinds laden with all manner of stuff including off-road vehicles, some boats and a few with flapping tarps over the contents. There was not one the size of a Greyhound bus, which are prominent in the holiday counts. For informational purposes, the biggest aggregation we can remember is 385 after Memorial Day one year.
As of today we have heard no shots other than those of what we call “the Wolf Creek Militia” across the river, which throughout the year blazes away at a gravel pit on Wolf Creek Road.