Tuesday, August 16, 2011


When my dad was a boy growing up at Gilbert, Idaho, the kids went everywhere regardless of who owned which piece of property. Exploring was not discouraged, and Little Canyon was a wonderful playground. But I didn’t grow up at Gilbert, and coming to live here a century later, I find that I don’t know the rules – where I can and can’t go, whether it’s okay to pick the fruit, etc. So, when I found cherry trees back on the rim of the ridge, I didn’t know if I could go ahead and pick them or if I should ask the owner first. Mike and I decided we should ask. (I should add that this community consists of four families, all of us descended from homesteaders or early settlers.)

We were getting ready to return to town this morning when Mike asked if I wouldn’t like to take time for a bike ride. Well, since he mentioned it . . . I put on my riding togs and got ready to go. Nellie looked interested – even excited – until Mike found a garter snake in the yard. It slithered under some violet leaves near the faucet, and Nell went on point. There was no convincing her that the bike was leaving and she should give up her quarry. So, I rolled out of the yard, down the lane, and climbed up, up, up out of the natural bowl where our farm home is located - but without Nellie. Checking at our mailbox, I found a fat mailer with my name on it. I knew what it was, so I stopped long enough to open the mailer and slip the furry cover over my bike seat. Ahhhhhh!

On down the road I went, and when I came within sight of the cherry owner’s house, I saw that the front door was wide open and the dog was in the yard. A good time to stop and chat about fruit trees, I thought to myself. So, I wheeled into the yard and the dog made my presence known. Kathy – her name is Kathy, too – came out and we had a nice long chat.

I asked about the cherry trees. She said they hadn’t picked fruit in years – too busy working. She said she had observed cherry trees growing in a number of places and pointed to one on the road. (Why can't they volunteer on my road?) She said they used to make applesauce and can apple pie filling. Well, I said, I also wanted to ask about the apple tree at the Senter place. I explained that I had picked a few apples as we cut wood there last fall and the pie was excellent.

“I’ll tell you where there’s a good apple tree,” she said. And then she described the big apple tree in the steep part of the lane on the road right-of-way off June’s place. (Remember, Hallie? We pruned some blackberry bushes in there last year.) “That’s just an awesome tree!” she said.

“Oh,” I laughed, “so you’re telling me I should stick to the fruit on my own property.”

“Not at all,” she said, “but the fruit on that tree is awesome.”

We visited a long time – about how working cuts into creative time, the love of sewing, the difficulty of keeping up with housework, our children and grandchildren, education today, Facebook, etc.

“I must go,” I said at last. “Mike will wonder what happened to me.”

“I have to go to work!” she exclaimed.

So, as I left I wondered if I had gotten a definitive answer to my questions, but then she called, “I hope you get some good cherries!” 

[The historic photos were evidently taken by Myrtle Dobson and presented to her mother, Ina, for Christmas 1912. At that time Myrtle was about 18. I believe that these pictures were taken in Little Canyon, but I have not seen these formations myself. The third photo is of Nellie pointing a garter snake this morning.] KW

UPDATE: Written on the back of another copy of the first photo: "What we called the Pyramids -- across the creek and upstream from Aunt Maude's place, 1912." So that definitely identifies the place as Little Canyon.


Hallie said...

Has Nellie dog learned the difference between dangerous snakes and non-threatening snakes?

Those rock formations are very interesting. Do I see ladies in long dresses also climbing the tower?

Kathy said...

Mike and I were wondering the same thing. We don't think she knows the difference. As you know, she already has a notched tongue from a rattler bite, but sometimes that makes a dog more aggressive rather than wary toward the source of the affliction.

The photo isn't identified, but on a guess, I'd say the woman is Pearl while the two men are Earle and Charlie McCoy. Just the other day Pete talked of how the neighborhood kids, including the girls, used to go to the canyon, and he wondered if they wore skirts or had overalls.

Leah said...

Your quest for cherry picking permission reminds me of my life in the 1940's. There were Michigan cherry trees, Jonathan apples, Concord grape vines, etc. We climbed trees to eat the fruit, picked the grapes and were chased away when the neighbors discovered us. We did this in the light of day without remorse! We knew we were stealing, but it was if our morals went out the window when we couldn't resist temptation. Such fun.

Have you thought of asking the neighbors if they know where these unusual formations are?

Kathy said...

As a matter of fact, Neighbor Pete and I have decided to get together to discuss what we know of the history of the area. He knows more than I know, but I mentioned my pictures and his ears perked up. Pete might know where they are. Brother Chuck might know. But the guy in the canyon is unfriendly. He runs a hunting club.

Leah, my parents had a raspberry bramble on the alley at the Orofino house, which they removed in the late '50s. Mother said she was tired of maintaining the bush for the benefit of the neighborhood children. A former neighbor (my age) shamefacedly admitted she was one of those kids.