family history

Baker City Wildfire

The following is written by Writers in the Grove member, Patti Bond. She often shares her memories and memories with us.

There was a wildfire near my grandparents’ house this weekend. I heard them telling us to stay away from the fire. But there are too many memories in these homes.

The red house on street, number 2706, is where my dad lived with his three sisters, my Aunt Kathy, Aunt Gayle, and Aunt Marilyn. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the fire threatened, Aunt Marilyn is no longer with us. That’s not the only memory at risk from the fire. My mother grew up in Baker City, the place where her biological father left her with her mother alone, just the two of them.

My mother was very active in theater and drama, and she loved Rainbow Girls. She was also very smart, skipping the third grade as she grew up. She and her mother, Zelene, moved several times, finally meeting Herbert Kelly and marrying him, giving them a place to settle in Baker City. Dave and I spent many years traveling to these homes visiting grandparents. I can remember hearing Daddy say that as long as the grandparents were alive, we were going to Baker City for Christmas. Grandma Kelly would greet us upon arrival every time saying “I hope Old Man Winter would give us a break.”

There are just too many memories in the houses up there, near the fire. Many are pleading for access to their homes to collect their precious memories before the wildfire consumes them. So many legacies remain, and wilt in the hearts of the many people who’ve lived in those houses, including my family.

They say the fires were started by lightning, normal for eastern Oregon. If I had unlimited resources, I would work day and night to save the livelihood and memories of my family’s heritage.

Please Lord put out these fires. Protect our memories and legacy in Baker City.

The Legacy Table

Inspired by the prompt Echos of a Wooden Table.

The foggy cloud wafted around her, hands a flurry of motion on the counter. Smack, roll, pound, twist, smack, roll, pound, twist, her body barely moving as arms pummeled the bread dough. I brushed a kiss on her wrinkled cheek as I moved past her, coughing slightly in the warm, moist flour-dust filled air.

“Don’t forget to run the water first.” How many years had she repeated this warning to me.

“Well still giving you problems? I thought Dad’d fixed it again.” Orange-red water sputtered from the silver tap into the well-worn and stained porcelain sink like blood from a cut. She didn’t need to answer. The evidence was clear, or rather not clear. Even so, a long sigh from the woman next to me puffed more flour into the air.

I reached overhead into the open cupboard for a glass cup, scratched and foggy with use and hard water stains, waited for the water to run clear, then filled it to the brim. While the rust in the old pipes was frustrating, and the old pump groaned at the request, the water that finally came through was clean and sweet, if you ignored the odd bit of dirt that floated to the bottom once in a while.

With a slap of hands again the well-washed apron covering her thighs, she stepped back to admire the loaf she’d shaped from the mixture of water, salt, flour, honey, and yeast.

“It’s the rains not the well.”

“Flooding is bad this year.” I took a long sip and gazed longingly at the white loaf. I knew the coming wait. I’d waited it for all of my life, through the heating of the oven, the baked warmth wafting through the house, the melt of the first warm slice without butter as an occasional treat, then doused in creamy butter during evening dinner. It was worth the wait. (more…)