This image was also taken from our view point shown in my 29 April post. From our “Perch” I look up and see history in front of me. Selah Ridge is part of the Yakima Folds running East and West. The rock outcroppings are part of the Columbia Basin basalt flows which occurred around 18 million years ago. Beneath the basalt there are layers of sandstone that once were part of the Pacific Ocean. The brown structure in the lower right is a piece of more recent history. It is part of the Naches-Selah irrigation canal built in the 1890’s. It still has a few years left until it will be torn down and replaced with a “modern” underground pipe. I will hate to see it go!
The day I created this image was a very unusual afternoon. It had been dark and cloudy for most of the day. Then around 5:00 PM the sun broke out and lit up the ridge in a golden orange-brown. The contrast between the warm orange ridge and the dark blue sky was breathtaking. There is always something interesting going on here at Heatherwood.
I casually walked home through cherry orchard, taking my time and looking all around me. I looked up and saw this protrusion of Selah Ridge overlooking the orchard. I felt like it was a sentinel watching over the rows of trees getting ready to bloom. Blossoms should be emerging very soon. I will keep my eyes open so I can take another adventure through the blooming orchard.
During my walk to the top of the cherry orchard I found a new way to get up to the top of Selah Ridge that overlooks the hillside where we live. There are so many places around our neighborhood to explore. The trek to the top of the ridge from here will be one that I plan to wander and explore.
Looking at this line of basalt rock, I ask myself how this remnant of a lava flow got way up here. Beneath this level of basalt lay strata of limestone-type sediments from an ancient sea bed. How did a sea bed get up here? Piecing the little that I know of the geologic history of the area, the following is what I think happened: First, this area at one time was under the Pacific Ocean. Then the volcanic Cascade Mountains were formed which separated Eastern Washington from the coastal plain. Later, the Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho basalt flows covered what is now the Columbia Basin. Then the moving continental plates slowly forced up the Yakima Folds creating a line of ridges across south central Washington. We live at the base of one of these ridges.
As I take my walks, my eyes are wandering constantly. This branch on a cherry tree caught my attention. What kind of insect or disease could have caused this? Or could it have been artistically created by someone who was talented with a knife and a small carving chisel?
Looking down on this row of smudgepots from the old cherry orchard brought back many memories of my childhood. Sixty years ago, I can remember waking up to skies covered with smoke. A thin film of soot covered anything that was open. The soot could even seep in through cracks into our house. Walking outside I remember feeling the smoke in my lungs. These pots were used to produce heat to protect the spring flowering buds from frost. The oil-burning smudgepots were placed between the rows of trees to produce a warm bed of heat. Cherry trees were the most susceptible to the frost because they typically were the first to bloom in the Spring.
Smudgepot lighting was always a special time when I was old enough to work in the orchards. I can remember hanging out in Grandpa Brown’s bunk house with several other school buddies in an evening when a frost was expected. We were suppose to do homework, but that never happened. We would “horse around” and then try to catch a little sleep. When the temperature stated to drop, we would rush out and light the oil in the pots. We would then monitor the temperature until it rose above freezing. We would then rush back out and turn the pots off. After shutting down the pots we would go home and get ready for school. I left my oily and smoky clothes in the garage. I would shower and get dressed, then head down to school. Most of my school pants were white denims. It didn’t take long to get them covered with the soot left by a previous night’s smudging. After school, we would go back out to the orchards and refill the smudgepots to prepare for the next freeze.
We decided to take a walk around our neighborhood hills and orchards yesterday. We discovered that our spring irrigation water had been turned on and had reached the ditch above our home. It is time to start our spring watering cycle. As I’ve mentioned before, this ditch was constructed and put in use in the 1880’s. This is one of the few open areas still remaining. The area directly above our house has an old wood flume. I am looking at it right now from my office as I type this post. It will be replaced by an underground pipe in the next few years. I will be sad to see the trace of our past removed.
A few days ago we had a light snow. I gazed our from my kitchen window and became fixated on the wonderful piece of history in my backyard. The snow provided a nice contrast between the irrigation flume’s wood structure and the sagebrush speckled background.
This piece of history was built in 1892 to provide irrigation water to the Selah Valley. Over the years, much of the canal has been upgraded and the wooden flumes torn down. I am lucky to have one of the few remaining sections above my home. I currently get my irrigation water directly from this flume. Sadly, it won’t be for too many additional years. Plans are to replace this section with an underground pipe. So until funds are available, I will enjoy what remains of our little bit of history.
Looking up between the rows of trees, I can catch glimpses of the Selah Ridge. The sagebrush covered hill sides are what the land is like without irrigation. The strip of basalt rock is from the great Columbia Basin lava flows which occurred 14-6 million years ago. It was pushed up as part of the Yakima folds development.