Conversation to myself: Squinting my I eyes I ask, “Where am I?” “Are these the rolling dunes of Death Valley? I thought I was in Eastern Washington. There are sand dunes in Eastern Washington. Aren’t there?” I slightly open my squint and see a shade of green. “No, this isn’t Death Valley.” I open my eyes further and see the textures of young winter wheat. “It’s the Palouse!”
I have many wonderful memories of my childhood growing up at the “Ranch.” Many times I spent what seemed like hours, laying on the lawn, gazing up at the clouds, watching them move across the sky changing shapes. Some things never change. On my recent trip to the Palouse, I saw these two trees out in the middle of endless hills of green fields. The bright blue sky was filled with puffy white clouds. I stopped and watched the clouds move across the sky casting shadows on the green hills. An hour went by like a flash as I watched and waited for the shadow patterns in the background to frame the tree while not shading the tree itself or the area in front of it. What a great way to spend a peaceful early afternoon in a beautiful part of our state.
This old mill has quite a history. The mill was built in 1890 by J.G. Porter and sold to Harvey Gray. Joseph C. Barron, Sr. bought the mill from Gray in 1907 for $11,500. Joseph C. Barron, Jr. was born in 1909 and joined his father in the business. Junior took over the business and ran the mill until 1960 when he could not compete with the modern facilities. Barron then put in a small modern mill, capable of producing 500 lbs. per hour, in a small building behind his house. He ran the new mill until 1997. At the age of 88 he felt that it was time to retire and sell both his new mill and the old Oaksdale wooden mill to Mary Jane Butters. Mary Butters had worked with Barron for several years and is the owner of Paradise Farm Organics, Inc. which markets organic and heirloom grain products.
The Barron Mill is the only intact flour mill remaining in the Palouse. It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It is my dream to be able to tour the old mill some day in the future.
The Thomas A. Leonard barn was constructed in 1917. The barn is a twelve-sided (round) shape. When built, it was considered as an economical construction method because it took less material to build. The longer term issue was that it was difficult to add on to and retain the shape. Approximately 20 round (polygonal) barns were constructed in Washington from 1890 to 1920. Two of the remaining barns are located in the Palouse.
The Columbia River Lava flows make up most of the bedrock of the Palouse. Fifteen to eighteen million years ago fissures in southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and southwestern Idaho spewed out great lava flows over the Columbia Basin. Steptoe Butte created by a metamorphic rock protrusion 400 million years ago rises 1000 feet above the lava flows.
We were hot and tired after a morning photo excursion during a Palouse Photography Workshop with John Barclay. Driving along headed back to the hotel for a break and maybe a nap, I saw this lone white barn. We glanced back as we zipped bye the barn. “Should I stop or should we just go back to the hotel.” On I went, thinking, “I should have stopped, I should have stopped!” I dropped my ride partner off at the hotel and decided, I am going back. I am glad I did.
Lesson Learned: When I see something, STOP! It may or may not be worth creating an image, but at least the memory will remain.
Some images are clearly best in Black & White. This is not one of them!!! This image of our Heatherwood meadow has all the colors of the color wheel. Testing myself, I could not come up with a color that is not represented. Two years ago when we designed the meadow, we actually used a color wheel as a tool to identify the perennials we would plant. We are fully enjoying the results of the effort.
One of the things I enjoy the most is just driving around exploring the countryside. An old dirt road, rolling hills, puffy clouds puts my mind at peace. I stop in the middle of the seldom traveled road not worrying about another car or truck coming by. I pause and enjoy what I see around me and contemplate how this beautiful land has been used to support a long abandoned homestead and now as a section of a large mega-farm. Sometimes I create an image with my camera. Sometimes I just drive on with the image as a memory in my mind.