Monday, January 24, 2022

Three dees

| December 15, 2021 6:10 AM

I recently returned from a trip to my hometown of Weiser, Idaho, the land of Friday night football games (go Wolverines!), homecoming queens, eternal yard sales and sugar beets and onions. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in and I hadn’t been back to visit in three years. I was welcomed into a womb of familiarity and comfort I didn’t know I was missing. The smell of fresh baked bread and pot roast. The translucent clamshell shaped lighting fixture from the ‘50s hanging from the cracked plaster ceiling. I used to lie upside down and stare at it for hours. Now there is a hole in the backyard where the massive maple tree used to be. In the summertime we’d dance around the tree singing “Ooolie zooolie zonka goolie, put some popsicles in the tree!” Somehow they would always magically appear. I continued to renew the past, walking the streets, remembering. Unfamiliar cars drove by. On Main Street a new coffee shop has opened on the corner and a gun shop, too. Unlike the rest of the West, though, Weiser has actually shrunk in population. It still has only two stop lights. One is on Highway 95, which is currently the detour to get to the resort town of McCall where Brundage ski hill is located. The main route slid away into the North Fork of the Payette river recently, so all the busy Boise traffic now comes through town. The other stoplight is on Main Street and my grandmama would obliviously float through it while taking me on a joy ride to the liquor store in her long, white ’65 Impala. It was the only stoplight in town at that time.

Now back home, I slipped up the unpaved, stoplight-free North Fork Road just before the much anticipated weekend storm began, I am thinking about how the North Fork population is growing, unlike Weiser’s. There are many conversations to have regarding that subject. Permits? Tickets? Gates? Being in my home town, surrounded by the memories that shaped me, I think of how lucky I am to live in the North Fork; its rustic and primitive character to chisel my soul to share with an ever developing world. For now, though, as I clear snow for the third time in two days, I stop to watch the chickadees who have set up winter residence in the barren serviceberry bush. It wasn’t that long ago that the shrub served as a high rise for hungry waxwings. I’m always grateful for chickadees in the winter.

Recently I learned that the more dees in their call, chick-a-dee-dee-dee, the more threat is looming in the environment. This morning, we were at three.

Flannery Coats column appears occasionally in the Hungry Horse News.

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