Sometimes a week in Mazama is filled with a series of small happenings rather than a singular story for this column. This week I share some random thoughts that were inspired by sights and sounds here in the upper valley.
One of the unexpected offspring of the pandemic is the loss of staff, especially in the service industry. The trickle-down effect on all of us is the unpredictability of days or hours that businesses are open and sometimes longer than usual waits for service. On a recent road trip, it was apparent that this problem exists widely. It was not unusual to see a tent card on a restaurant table requesting patience with short staffing.
I can’t help but recall the fear-provoking rhetoric that immigrants were going to take away jobs from Americans. Seems we could use some hard-working folks to fill the hundreds of job openings that even here in our rural communities are evident in the Help Wanted ads in the newspaper and signs around town. A server at one food service business quipped that their staff was made up of teenagers and senior citizens — no in-betweeners!
Our little Mazama Store has been hopping busy some days this summer and dead to the world on others, depending on the state of the affairs in the valley. With many student workers returning to school, remaining staff have overfilled their time cards and drained their energy tanks. Owners of the store, Rick and Missy LeDuc, recognized the need for a break for their employees. After first reducing the hours they were open, they decided to close the store from October 4-10 for a respite. Don’t head out for a sea salt baguette this week!
The autumn colors are now in full glory. Are those flaming bright-needled trees larch or tamarack? Are they evergreen or deciduous? They are difference species, but the same genus and the names can be used interchangeably. Even though both species have needles like other evergreens, they are, in fact, deciduous trees.
If you head to the North Cascades to view the beauty of the larch, be prepared to be doing it with multitudes of visitors parked at all the viewpoints along Highway 20. The Washington Pass Overlook provides a spectacular, in-your-face look at the towering granite peaks and the golden larches. Even my weak-kneed response to heights was held at bay by the allure of the panoramic view.
Creatures large and small are responding to the change of temperature and daylight. Little honeybees move slowly, perched atop the remaining flower blossoms. Horses are bundling up with their winter coats. Little hummingbirds are genetically programmed to head south based on the changes in the length of the day and the angle of the sun. The little birds can travel as far as 23 miles in a day to their warmer destination. See you guys in the spring!
The resplendent fall days offer a last call for some outdoor activities. I recently witnessed fishermen casting for planted rainbow trout in Frost Lake. Horseback rides are near perfect without pesky flies and bugs. The swaying autumn grasses and long-since abandoned apple trees still loaded with treats for the horses are worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting.
The pub in Mazama now has an official name: Grumpy Goat Public House (or Grumpy Goat Pub, according to Bill Pope). I’m looking forward to quaffing a first beverage there.