The Big Read has touched the farthest reaches of the county. Several canyon residents are reading Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," being the free-thinking, First Amendment-supporting types that we are. If you value your freedom of expression and you haven't read this book, you can get a copy (I think they still have some left) at Fishtrap's Coffin House on Grant Street in Enterprise, or at the Bookloft on Main Street in Enterprise. Or, call me and I'll lend you one of my copies.

Because this is a dispatch about Canyon news and life, I won't venture into a socio-political diatribe about our First Amendment rights, but I will say this: never has a book been more timely or appropriate. If you haven't read it, read it. If you have read it, read it again.

Artist injuredLocal artist and musician Alazar Halladay is taking a break from playing bass and electric guitar. He cut the tip of his thumb off, just below the cuticle but, luckily, above the knuckle while splitting wood. He doused it with honey (a natural disinfectant) and wrapped it in tape, and it's healing nicely. He's spending his newly-acquired spare time developing his new fragrance, "Eau de Itchy, Healing, Always-Damp Flesh".

VisitorsDonnie and Bonnie Marks' sister and brother-in-law, Kay and Ray Justice (it's a family rule that spouse's first names must rhyme) were here from St. Helens to visit for the weekend.

Several of my Joseph friends came to the Imnaha Store and Tavern for the Superbowl Potluck to wear some of my Steelers gear and to root for the Seahawks. At least they wore some black and gold, so I wouldn't feel so alone. Thanks, you guys! After they left and the Steelers won (in spite of some questionable calls by the refs), I was overtaken by Seahawks fans and my Steelers flag ended up in, um, parts unknown.

Wildlife ReportI saw a Golden Eagle perched on a rock in the apple orchard, right near the road, on Imnaha Highway Saturday, near the 16 mile marker. The turkeys are now so busy flirting that they ignore healthy, wholesome seed thrown out for them in favor of chasing hens. They're not even cool about it - they just shamelessly run after the girls. It's embarrassing.

'How we met'With Valentine's Day right around the corner, it's not just turkeys, but middle-aged newspaper writers whose attentions turn to thoughts of love. The next couple of columns will feature "How we met" stories from some of the longest-married couples in the canyon.

Jerry Euderhardt met Luby when he guessed her weight at an amusement park. They married two months later, and when I scolded him (in all my middle-aged-yet-still-single wisdom) about the danger of quick involvement and the importance of a long and proper courtship, he reminded me that he and Luby have been married 49 years.

Bonnie Marks met Donnie while she was dating his cousin. Ricky Gillette met Alexis when she was the new girl in town, and, at his friends' urging, walked up and planted one on her, full on the lips, in the middle of the Cowboy Bar. Little did he know that she would stalk him relentlessly, giving him the thumbs up every time he passed her in his truck and knocking on his door or window in the wee hours, until he finally married her.

Nothing says "romance" like throwing a 10-speed on top of a woodpile at midnight and storming off in a huff. Alexis details her strategy in her brilliant literary achievement, "How to Snag the Gentle Giant of Your Dreams," out this spring.

Annie Barb Witherrite and Weldon have been married 58 years. Their grandparents went to the same church, so their families already knew each other. When Barb was nine, she went to spend the week with her aunt in Enterprise. The Witherrite boys came over with their father to deliver (hay? manure? I forget) and 9-year-old Barbara commented that they certainly were good-looking fellows. "Wait 'till you see their brother", her aunt replied. "He's the one for you, and he's closer to your age."

The seed was planted. Fast forward to high school. Weldon had joined the service. He was home in the spring, and 17-year-old Barb and her friend Geanne were walking along the road when Weldon and his brother pulled up and invited the girls to the movies, and the rest is history.

Picking up babes on the side of the road is apparently the secret to a long, happy marriage, because that's exactly how Ken and Pat Stein got together, too. But that's another column.

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