We need vendors for the High Prairie Christmas Bazaar, to be held December 1st – 3rd. The Bazaar will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10am-4pm. You can choose to do one day for $15 or all three days for $40. You will have a 6×8 ft space. You must provide your own tables. However, tables are available to rent for $5 per table per day. Electricity is available for $5 per day as well. There is a set-up time on Wednesday, November 30th from 1-3pm, or you can set up in the morning from 8-10am. Please spread the word if you know of a possible vendor.
Vendors please contact Tami Woodruff at (360) 241-3537.
I’m going to make a confession that blows my mind. I turned 70 years old this year, 70! I was a girl when my Nana turned 50 and I thought she was going to die any day because that was REALLY OLD in my young mind. Now I’m sure my grandsons think the same about me. I’m aware that I need to be flexible and adaptive, aware of my surroundings, and take care of myself as I plan to live many more quality years. After all, my mother is turning 90 years old in January (shhh, don’t tell her I spilled the beans) so I come from good stock.
With this birthday milestone, I’ve also become aware of the many services available in Klickitat County through Senior Services (https://www.klickitatcounty.org/341/Senior-Programs); and one program that I thoroughly enjoy is Senior Lunch at the Lyle Lions club on Tuesdays. There are many good reasons for this program – the hot meal provides at least one third of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of nutrients for seniors. Also important for seniors’ well-being is the socialization that goes on before and during the meal. Folks greet each other, ask about their lives, notice when a regular attendee is missing, and share stories all while enjoying a hot, tasty meal.
The Lyle Lions club has a wonderful self-contained kitchen, so meals consisting of a main dish, veggie or salad, bread and dessert are completely prepared on-site. Volunteer cooks (I’d venture to say they are all seniors, too) come to the kitchen every Tuesday in the early morning and take pride in the meals they prep, cook, bake and assemble. Other folks (again, mostly seniors) come in a bit later to help with washing dishes, serving meals, and cleaning up.
Seniors are asked to donate $3.50 and other folks pay $6.50 to cover the cost of food. All ages are welcome to attend. Some folks come with a caregiver, some with a family member or friend, and some folks come to meet up or make new friends. You’ll find High Prairie neighbors as well as folks from the Lyle area there on Tuesdays. Don’t be shy. The doors open at 10:00 a.m. to mingle and you can get a hot or cold beverage if you’d like; lunch is served at noon.
There are 5 senior lunch sites throughout Klickitat County that serve on different weekdays. You can find the schedule at the website link above, as well as information on other county senior programs. Write yourself a post-it reminder to come on Tuesday for a lovely meal as well as conversations with good friends (and no clean-up!)
Greetings from the Goldendale Community Library, home of the Klickitat County Bookmobile. As we began to re-open services in-person we also restarted our Bookmobile, and we were happy to be able to bring services back to High Prairie. In the past, our visits to the area were limited to the summer, but due to interest, we will try to extend our services to late spring and early fall, as well as continue to visit at community events. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us either on the Bookmobile or call us at the library.
November is NaNoWriMo month (National Novel Writing Month), so challenge yourself to write every day to start or finish your novel! For more information, visit https://nanowrimo.org/
Here are a few things to look forward to at the library and through our Bookmobile:
Special Saturday Bookmobile visit and crafts:
11/12 Lyle Community Center 10:30-12 PM
11/12 Klickitat Community Center 1:00-2:30 PM
12/10 AM Wishram School 10:30-12:00 PM
At the Goldendale Community Library:
11/7 One-On-One Tech Help 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
11/17 Songs From the Heart – Contemporary Native American Flute Music & Stories 6:00 PM
Imagine temperatures plummet and everything is iced over. What would you do?
Imagine you are snowed in. What would you do?
Imagine you are away from home when a storm hits. What would you do?
All of these winter scenarios and more have happened in High Prairie since Ron and I moved here 23 years ago. One of the first questions we asked neighbors was “do we need a generator?” We were told that some significant upgrades by KPUD had made power outages much less frequent so we didn’t get a generator, but over the years we have used our imaginations to prepare for power outages and more. Food, water, sanitation, warmth, safety, and communication were at the top of the lists.
Some of our conclusions have led to automatic everyday preparation like keeping our gas tanks above a half of a tank. Easy to do. We keep filled jugs of water where they won’t freeze to use for drinking and sanitation. We include the needs of our dog and livestock in our preparations. Manual can opener, extra medication, candles, blankets, emergency chargers, shoe traction devices, and a shovel might be on your list. One winter a plastic snow sled was indispensable in moving feed bags to animals and groceries from the car to the house. How about a communication plan for when family members are away from home? If you travel from home to a job or school, do you have a car kit in case you’re stuck?
Every household is different, and family members should take time to imagine what could happen as well as what they will need to be safe, healthy, clean and fed. Be sure to write down what might happen and what you need. The lists don’t need to be overwhelming – you may already have the essentials – but taking some time to imagine what you and your family might need before winter hits and acquiring the supplies keeps the situation under control.
I’m not sure when I realized that the generation raising children today needs our time. Not just our resources, but our time, our patience, our gravitas. And we need their joie de vivre, silliness and technological skills.
I learned we could create a win-win-win for three generations when our 40-year-old friend’s ex-husband died unexpectedly last year. She-who-runs-an-organization struggled to find a child-free time to walk and talk as we’d always done. Suddenly it dawned on me. Our only son was headed off to college and we were already exhausting the Netflix library and wondering whether couples’ yoga was going to be enough to keep us from wandering around the house waiting for the dishwasher to finish so we could empty it. Certainly we could do one night of babysitting. It would be something to plan, someone’s hair to brush. Even if we’re both still working.
I offered—okay I offered my much-more-flexible husband—to pick up Amara, bring her to our house for dinner and an overnight and for said patient husband to take her back to school the next day. My friend Laila about fell over on our walking path, both from surprise and relief. We are the steady, always-show-up-early types, unlike the gaggle of babysitters she’d tried to employ, and we would have time to work on Amara’s reading skills. And we would commit for a year. She weakly asked “Shouldn’t we ask Jeff?” Well okay.
My husband Jeff lumbered down the stairs upon our return and when I got halfway through the request, he finished my sentence by stating “…and I could drop her off at school the next day so Laila has a full 24 hours!” I could have kissed him. Laila definitely did.
We plotted how to make Tuesdays with Amara fun. I settled on one of my favorite tenets: have a theme. Amara helped me make a list, including a wide array of unique topics: bugs, unicorns, orange, circle and Moana. Forty-eight Tuesdays a year is a lot of themes.
A theme means that we have a focus each Tuesday. I always hide a little gift or project she has to find. She’s sewn up a French flag, put on lip gloss, perused a website to find out how to help bugs thrive. A welcoming sign outlines the daily plan, questions to answer and books to read. (Our local library has books on any theme and the most understanding youth librarian alive.)
Jeff has dutifully hula-d in a grass skirt, read to Amara about latkes and made thick, orange jello hearts for her snack. I’ve braided her hair, found a spider headband and decorated pumpkin cookies. We go to bed at 8:15 on Tuesdays, because that’s when Amara settles in, and frankly, we’re exhausted anyway.
And we have stories to tell, jokes to make and something interesting to talk about when it comes to our empty nest. Amara figures into the Christmas letter and accounts for 70 percent of the pictures on our phones. Laila has trumpeted the arrangement to all her friends and her grief support group. Our emptying-nest friends are amused or aghast or congratulatory. We’re planning our holidays around Tuesdays and scouring sales racks for items like unicorn lip balm.
Purposefully living inter-generationally means exactly that, hurling ourselves out of our comfort zones, eating Hawaiian food in the den, and laying out a dinner spread of only orange food. We’ve met Amara’s 1st-grade teacher, her friend Grant in his Flash costume and some ridiculous stuffed animal named Poonicorn (which looks like a unicorn turd, I kid you not). She’s learned about the frontal cortex, what “Bon Voyage” means and why the hide-a-bed folds up if Papa Jeff sits down too soundly for bedtime books.
We need—and find—each other every Tuesday.
Lori (and Jeff) Sweeney were “mock grandparents” for 1 ½ years, until COVID hit, and they decided it was better to head for the hills and move to High Prairie. Tuesdays with Amara is one of the highlights of their lives—and a darn good reminder of what it means to come alongside the younger generation instead of sprinting the other way.
Thank you for your support of our volunteers and KCFPD #14 / High Prairie Fire. Covid 19 has made the efforts of all responders more difficult and potentially hazardous, but the protocols developed for safely responding to emergencies have mitigated many of the issues faced by your volunteers.
Quick reflection on the Summer’s fire season leaves a greater realization of how lucky we on High Prairie have been for the past few years. Klickitat County has benefited from the ‘Luck of the Draw’ this season as well. The number and degree of wildfire incidents was down significantly countywide. The majority of the 90 High Prairie responses to date have been medical related incidents with a few rescue related responses for us in District 14 and in our sister District 4 Lyle. These varied response efforts have all been safely and efficiently accomplished by your department!
The department currently has 3 firefighter candidates working through the checklist of simple requirements to become responders. Each of these individuals will be an excellent addition to the cadre of responders for District 14. One of these candidates has undertaken, on her own initiative, the course of study and training required to become a certified EMT. High Prairie currently has 4 emergency medical responders, and having another EMS person on board will be a true asset to the High Prairie community.
If you’re curious about who we are and what we do, please feel free to come by on the 1st, 2nd or 4th Tuesday evening, 7 to 9 PM, during our regular meetings or training drills.
The countywide Burn Ban has been lifted, effective October 26, 2022. The extension of the ban was a cautious response to the dry, hot Summer temperatures and a very dry, large burden of ‘fine fuels’ ~ leaf litter, grasses, twiggy weeds ( like Wild Chicory, Skeleton Weed, etc. ) and brush all around us. ‘Caution!’ is still the watch word as you begin to plan for burning this Fall. Remember ~ you are responsible for any fire you start on the ground… so if you don’t want to have a wildfire named after you and potentially be held liable for costs and damage created by Your Fire, use ‘Caution’ and be smart about your when and how you decide to burn.
Burn barrels are illegal in Klickitat County. There are specific rules and regulations for legal burning. In District 14 there is no requirement for needing a burn permit, however ~ as mentioned before… it is your fire! Here is a link to the WA DNR outdoor burning requirements ~ https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_burn_need_burn_permit.pdf
In a nutshell, you can only have one fire pile of ‘natural’ materials with a maximum height of 4’ in the center of a 10’ diameter area cleared of flammable debris. No treated lumber, railroad ties, pool tables, kitchen sinks, etc. are allowed. A 5-gallon bucket of water (or charged garden hose) and a shovel need to be readily available at the fire area. Common sense dictates that starting a debris fire… on any windy day that shivers the leaves and grasses, closer than a minimum of 50’ from any structures/property, ideally 500’ from other large brush piles, or when you cannot commit to attending your fire until it is extinguished needs your full attention. If you experience a problem or your fire pile gets out of hand ~ call 911 ASAP for assistance from your fire department.
Last spring Fire District 14 completed installation of two grant-funded compressed air systems at Station 1 and Station 2. The purpose of the installations is to provide air to brake systems on fire rigs prior to startup. The importance of these installations is twofold: to reduce page response time, and to reduce the amount of diesel exhaust pollutants inside the fire hall.
Due to the design of engine-driven air brake systems on our rigs, the brakes remain locked until the air pressure builds up enough to allow the brakes to be disengaged. Prior to having the compressed air system, the time to get the engine-driven air systems up to pressure was on the order of 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the vehicle. Now, with the newly installed air system, those same rigs can be brought up to operating pressure in less than a minute typically. This is time saved, allowing improved response times in most cases.
As you can imagine, having one or more trucks idling for several minutes inside the hall created prolonged exhaust exposure for firefighters donning gear. Now with the shortened time from engine start to getting the trucks outside, the level of indoor air pollutants is greatly diminished.
Funding for this equipment was provided mostly by a Legends Casino grant of $5,000, with another approximately $2,000 paid for by the fire district. System design and installation was accomplished with firefighter volunteer labor. Former Chief Darland and Captain Haner led the effort with other crew providing assistance.
This FireWise article suggests a few important chores and a couple of planning tasks to consider as Fall rolls steadily toward Winter.
*First item on your list should be pruning or removal of fallen tree debris, particularly pine and evergreen trees!
Doing this work now until the first week of December will put you well ahead of the Ips beetles during their dormant period. Your trees will have the chance to heal and recover from any injuries before the beetles become active and reproduce, loading the bark of the pines with eggs, which will hatch into larvae, that will feed on the tree’s tender cambium layers. This developmental beetle stage leads to girdling the circumference of the tree and cutting off the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree. The trees will die over the course of the next year or two.
*Next – piling the trimmed debris away from the trees for chipping or burning may even attract egg laying beetles into the pile if temperatures warm early in the Spring, helping to reduce the number of beetles impacting your area!
*Cleaning and preparing your tools & equipment for the tasks to come in the Spring Season.
*Plan for getting defensible – ready for the 2023 season!
Start by taking the time to walk around your house, sheds, barns and other property that would be devastating to have to replace in the event of a wildfire impacting our community.
*Create a punch list of FireWise things to do:
In the areas next to your structures/property, begin by surveying out the first 5’, then continue out to 30’ from the foundation of each structure. This will put you ahead of the game come Spring. Items like cleaning the fall leaves, pine needles, etc., off your roof or away from the foundations are the places to start.
*Consider reviewing things like the utility services [power pole] coming into your property, fencing that uses wood post or poles for corners, gates, supports or anchors. Make a note in your Spring FireWise plan to take preemptive actions like trimming grasses or clearing down to mineral soil (aka dirt) to prevent fire from coming up to any item you would hate to lose. A bare earth circumference 3 feet in diameter around a power pole, posts or other fencing materials should be good. Consider for a moment how long it would take Klickitat PUD to replace all of the poles in the grid and then into your home to restore your electrical services!
It will be work well done, not ‘If’ but ‘When’ our community has a significant wildfire event!
If you have any questions, desire FireWise or High Prairie Fire information, or have other comments or requests, please feel free to contact me by email at email@example.com or a phone call and voice message at 509-365-2786 home or 206-234-4141 cell.
Editor’s Note: It’s gotten colder. Winter is coming and we’re moving into the darkest months of the year. It might seem odd to read about spring flowers right now, but what better way to remember there’s light at the end of winter’s tunnel?
Click/tap images for a larger view
We live on the north side of Stacker Butte at 2500 feet. The top of Stacker Butte stands a whopping 3220 feet above the Columbia River across from the The Dalles. The Butte was built by lava flows and scoured by ancient floods. As Stacker Butte is at a higher elevation, there is more of a compressed time frame for the unfolding of flowers, shrubs and grasslands.
A little High Prairie history … Stacker Butte was named after a German immigrant, Henry Stacker, who came to Klickitat County in 1883. From his homestead on the High Prairie, he grazed his sheep on top of the Butte, where today you’ll find microwave towers and a wigwam-shaped antenna signal to aircraft arriving and departing Portland International Airport. Henry Stacker and his wife are buried at the Lone Pine Cemetery 1893-1923.
The north side of Stacker Butte has different ecosystems than Dalles Mountain Ranch (part of Columbia Hills State Park) on the south side, depending on the elevation. There is a partially forested woodland consisting mainly of Oregon White Oaks with Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir, along with shrubs and open grassland. Stacker Butte supports important populations of Obscure Buttercup, Dagger Pod Lily and Hot Rock Penstemon, giving this area a preserved status in the Columbia Hills State Park. Our property goes nearly to the top of the ridge. Although it may have once been grazed by Mr. Stacker and others, it is now covered in native grasses and plenty of wildflowers in the spring and summer. Here’s a record of spring rambles and the wildflowers we found:
March 27 – The first wildflowers to appear in the spring, especially lower on the mountain in wetter, grassy areas, are the Grass Widows. They are a perennial in the Iris family. Their species name, douglasii, honors David Douglas, a botanist who was an early explorer of the Pacific Northwest and who also had the Douglas Fir tree named after him.
March 28 – At higher elevations are Yellow Bells (Frittillaria pudica)(left). Pudica means bashful or chaste to describe the drooping flower
which hides its pistil and stamens. To forage, their small bulbs are dug and eaten boiled, or pit cooked. The Lakota tribe uses the whole plant as a cancer cure and the plants are pulverized to make a salve for swellings.
March 28 – Spring Beauty (Claytonia lancelata)(right) is considered an herb and one of the first subalpine plants to emerge after the cold dormancy of winter. Its name is in honor of the botanist John Clayton. ‘Lancelata’ refers to its lance-shaped leaves. The entire plant can be eaten raw or cooked, but it is best to forage l i k e a deer would browse, only taking a leaf or two from each plant.
Late March/Early April – New green needle buds of the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) (left) start showing around the time of the first wildflowers. These new growth tips can be eaten fresh or brewed as a tea and are a rich source of Vitamin C.
April 8 – Another early bloomer is Columbia Kittentails (Synthyris stellata) (right), part of the Figwort family.
April 9 – Bright yellow Glacier Lilies can be seen on Centerville Highway in the High Prairie, growing in large fields in marshy lowlands, and are often one of the first plants to bloom after the snow melts, hence the name Glacier. They can be foraged; the leaves and bulb have a slightly sweet taste and can be eaten raw or cooked. Its best to take only a single leaf to not disturb the plant.
April 20 – Poets Shooting Star (Dodecatheon species) is part of the primrose family, found on the lower slopes and moist areas. All parts of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked.
April 27 – Lovely blue Common Camas (Camassia quamash) (left) grows in plentiful beds. This beautiful flowering lily has an edible bulb tasting of sweet potato when cooked but indigestible raw. Bulbs are best gathered late spring to early summer. Be sure not to mistake the white-flowered Death Camas, which is poisonous, for the blue Common Camas.
April 29 – This unusual looking Big-Headed Clover (Trifolium macrocephalum) (right) comes out a little before the Balsamroot.
May 11 – I think the Penstemon in the photo on page 6 is a Sticky Stem Penstemon. There were hundreds on the north slopes in early May.
May 18 – Spreading Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) (left) was growing in a sunny and rocky, sloping location higher on the Butte.
May 22 – We found Buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.) (right) and Blanket Flowers, one of the last of the spring flowers to bloom.
May 24 – We found Western Wallflower, or Prairie Rocket.
May 29 – Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliate) (left) is an annual found in wetter areas, especially near our seasonal creek throughout March through May. It was tasty to nibble on during hikes! This plant has been raised commercially as a hardy winter salad crop.
April 29 through end of May —Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) (right). They are a First Nation food, with roots dug from spring to mid-autumn. The small ½ inch long sunflower-like seeds are a source of protein. The roots can be made into a tincture which promotes the flow of mucus secretions in the respiratory tract. It stimulates the immune system and white blood cell activity. A syrup made from roots soothes sore throats and leaf salve speeds the healing of wounds.
Mixed with Balsamroot are Harsh Paintbrush and Lupine. Foragers recommend not eating lupines, as some are toxic, especially the seeds. The word lupus means wolf and since lupines grow in poor soil it was thought they robbed the soil of minerals just like wolves’ depredation. In actuality, lupines enrich the soil since they fix nitrogen.
Harsh Paintbrush, or Prairie Fire, is a perennial in the Broomrape family and is hemiparasitic, feasting on the roots of grasses and forbs.