Last month, we relocated our family of four from northern Arizona to southeastern Oregon. Moving from the Southwestern desert to the sagebrush country was a big change. Even though we previously lived in this neck of the woods years ago, our bodies had fully acclimated to the heat during nearly two years in Arizona. My family was totally unprepared for the cold June days that greeted our arrival up north.
Shortly after our arrival, I found myself digging through a storage tub in search of a wool sweater and extra socks. I told my husband, Jim, to get his new boss on the phone.
“Why?” he asked.
“I want to ask him if summer is canceled. It’s the middle of June, and I just turned on the heater. At this point, should we just resign ourselves to long, cold days until the seasons change and we have shorter, colder days? Are the sun’s rays too short to reach eastern Oregon? Did somebody turn down the thermostat for the entire region, then the dial got stuck and now all the repair technicians are in Bora Bora, drinking Mai Tais and laughing their heads off while sunbathing on a white sandy beach? How does this work? I’m so confused.”
If I was perplexed by the drastically different climate, my two-year-old son, Milo, was equally mystified by the foliage surrounding his new home. He ran barefoot through the sharp rocks and prickly pear cactus of Arizona without missing a step, but the concept of soft grass was totally foreign to him. When Jim carried him outside and tried to set him down on our lawn, the toddler clung to his dad’s neck like a spider monkey. He eyed the lush, green lawn with suspicion and hiked his knees up farther so there was no chance his feet might accidentally touch the dangerous-looking stuff.
We eventually convinced Milo that grass was good and soft – even friendly – and now he runs through it without inhibition. Given the choice, though, he still prefers a mud puddle for entertainment purposes.
And there are plenty of mud puddles on the ranch that the Young family now calls home. Just like in Arizona, our two small kids play with sticks and dirt more than plastic toys and store-bought games. The nearest town is nearly 100 miles away, so my grocery trips are still an all-day affair that require a lengthy list, an ice chest, and a whole lot of patience.
Unlike our remote cow camp home in Arizona, our new Oregon residence affords our five-year-old daughter, Grace, the opportunity to attend public school. She is beyond excited that an actual school bus will pick her up every morning and transport her 42 miles – that’s right, forty-two miles – to the two-room schoolhouse. She has already met her teacher and the other kid in her kindergarten class, so she is all set for the first day of school.
Well, Grace will be all set after I take her shopping for school clothes, that is. I just hope I can find enough wool sweaters in her size to get her through the month of August.
Whether we live in the Southwest or the Great Basin, the kids are happy as long as they can ride. Here, Milo sits on Shorty while Grace enjoys petting his soft nose.
Unpaid advertisement: This 10-year-old bridle horse will be offered for sale on September 15th at the Van Norman And Friends Production Sale.