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The Gearboat Chronicles

Grass seed along the Grand Ronde

Got out in the boat last week. The mission was to check on areas along the Grand Ronde River that recently had grass seed applied by helicopter. Sarah Ketchum was doing the inspecting. She’s the Weed Programs Specialist for Wallowa Resources, a local nonprofit out here that does lots of good work by helping to manage natural resources with the community in mind. That’s my read on it, anyway. For the authentic mission statement, check them out at wallowaresources.org.

Sarah and I got on the water at Boggan’s Oasis and hopscotched along the right bank to stop at the benches where the seeding had gone down. She would hike up and do her mysterious science activities while I stayed by the boat and skipped rocks or built sand castles.

Found a few old tumble-down shacks that I’m guessing were used by cowboys back in the days. Speaking of cows, I’m almost reluctant to post the picture of what is perhaps the basest insult my eyes have ever beheld. But I think the world should know what these creatures are capable of.

The picture is about as self-explanatory as they come. It’s pretty hard not to get the message. What isn’t clear is what one cow could possibly do to another cow to bring on such treatment. Stealing cuds? Cutting in line on the way to the watering hole? Where in the life of a beef cow is there intrigue enough for one bovine to think, “There will come a day when I shall poop on your skull . . .”

For the record, there wasn’t another cowpie around for a good thirty yards. It wasn’t like there was a stampede and cow poo was everywhere. This did not look accidental. I was going to eat my roast beef sandwich on that beach but decided against it. The last thing I need is for a vindictive cow to take a dislike to me and follow me home, waiting for the chance to strike again.

That other picture is just a rock in the middle of some moss, but I thought it was a little bit groovy. That may have something to do with spring just beginning and the color green being a rarity.

Sarah got me going on starting my life list of birds. My first entry was a bald eagle eating a fish in the branch of a ponderosa. Saw bunches of deer and turkeys . . . it was a nice spring day. The kind that starts with a snowstorm on your way to the river. Then blue sky and you’re wearing just a t-shirt. Then raindrops and you break the parka out. Warms up, cools off, wind picks up, sun comes out. It’s like a game of Simon Says, with all the peeling off and adding back on of sweatshirts and fleece and jackets and raincoats. But it was good to be out there. Nice to be afloat again. And I learned that there is at least one cow in the world I definitely do not want to cross.