The first thing that hits you crossing the Cascades into Eastern Oregon, besides the stark beauty of rim rock and sagebrush and the majesty of the Three Sisters and their friends looming to the west, is the dry. Within an hour of arriving in Bend, my thirst is unquenchable and my lips shrivel into little crusts.
At last night’s reading, in the still-relatively-new Nature of Words Center in downtown Bend, one of the people in attendance was a woman who moved here from Nashville. My words about the ease of gardening in the Willamette Valley struck a chord with her.
“I came here in August and saw these little bitty tomato plants,” she said. “I thought they were diseased or something.”
“This is high desert!” countered another woman.
I asked if she liked the dryness as a climate feature, though, compared to the humidity of Tennessee. She agreed, but then her friend asked how it affected her skin.
“My skin is a wreck!” she laughed.
Today I will head east to the town of Burns, where I wrote a good half of Get Your Pitchfork On!, and then north to visit my favorite towns of Baker City and Enterprise. More on that next week! I promise to drink plenty of water.