Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


August 24, 2023

Karen Bertroch

Old potato shed on Burkhalter/Fitts field with best sign in Grays River.

Sometimes I think I'm more trouble than I'm worth. Do you ever feel like there's too much going on for your mind to organize? Then again, aging isn't for sissies. My allergy to dust is killing me this summer. So much coughing I can't sleep at night, so much sneezing I wake up the dog, too. But this morning I noticed cars coming by in front of my house from the east, coming around the bend, seeing the sun coming up on the fields across from my house and slowing down to look at how beautiful it is with shadows from the trees laying across the field and Bob Torppa's red golf flag shining like a red bulb on a Christmas tree. May your days be merry and bright.

Last weekend was busy, busy with County Fair, Loggers Reunion, and more. One thing about no rain, everyone can count on a good day to be outside and not worry about rain. I did hear Gordon McCraw on KMUN say that the remnants of the storm Hillary may work their way up the coast into our area. Let's do a rain dance, ok? Not just a shower but a rain dance.

This weekend the Naselle Timberland Library will hold a book sale on Friday and Saturday from 9-4 at the Appelo Archives. There's an estate sale at 1170 Altoona. Oh, and let's not forget that school will start on September 5. Already? Yep. It was cold on my back porch this morning, cold like fall. Summer is waning but let's hope for a beautiful fall.

Irene Martin, county historian, wrote in a booklet she did for the Appelo Archives in 2010, "The earliest pioneers learned to live with the water changes of daily life. Charlotte Amundson married Charles Anderson in Astoria and moved to Grays River in early 1880's. An article in the Grays River Builder newspaper described their early life: "Their nearest source of supply was a small country store at Walker's landing, where the present Meserve store is. It was necessary for Mr. Anderson to fish, leaving the farming to his wife. She would place the small children on boxes in the bottom of the skiff and taking advantage of the incoming tide, row those weary miles to the little store to get what supplies might be had and catching the ebb pull home with the outgoing tide as her helper once more. The tide, the tide, in early days all things waited on the tide. How dependent upon its regular flow were those early people? If they were unexpectedly detained, how disconcerting to come back to your boat and find it high and dry, or with rods and rods of soft sticky mud to wade through before you could even reach it, if it were not upturned altogether." Floods are a way of life in Grays River – photos, old home movies and newspaper clippings all document the river's years of bursting its banks and flooding pastures and homes and changing salmon habitat." And now from Ted Swanson as included in Irene's piece: "When we came to Grays River in 1889, the hills were all old growth timber clear down to the river's edge; but did not have much value at that time, will mention here that the bottom lands had the most value, today in 1969 the logged off lands have about as much value as the bottom lands and are more easily sold. Getting the logs to the water was by oxen (five and six yoke.)"

More from Irene: "Logs went out by water in those days and were sometimes held in ponds created by temporary dams, known as splash dams. When the river rose, the logs were released for their ride downstream, a practice that scoured and damaged gravel spawning beds and the riparian zone along the river's edge. The bottom lands along the edge of the Grays River were covered by early pioneers who worked to convert the forest to farmland. While much of the forest has been replanted and is growing back, recovery takes a long time in some areas. Lack of streamside and hillside vegetation to hold back water contributes to flooding. Water from the 124 square miles falls as rain, is absorbed into the ground, trees and plants, or flows, sometimes with great velocity, down slopes and into tributaries before joining one of the main forks of the Grays River and the mainstem. The mainstem necks down before entering Grays Bay. Dikes add to the velocity of the water by channeling it into a narrow canal-like feature prone to overflow when more water is present than the earthen walls can handle. Tidal and wind influence can cause water to back up, forcing the river to overflow its banks." Maybe today's blackberries can be a help?

Please read the School Board article with info about the survey. I did not see the sentence at the end of last week's article on the survey on page 8 of the Eagle where it says simply: so I complained to the School Board and Lisa Nelson about lack of access to folks without cell phones. Now I must apologize to Superintendent Nelson and the School Board for my crankiness because of old watery eyes, lack of sleep and no rain to water my garden, fewer bees and butterflies and any number of irritants, so I was unkind to Lisa N and the School Board and for that I sincerely apologize. Folks, please do fill out the survey as a gesture of love for all our kids.

Photo of the Week: Sign painted on old potato shed on Burkhalter/Fitts field.

Calendar of Events:

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church sponsors morning quilters and knitters in afternoons.

Second Tuesday: Johnson Park Board meeting at 10.

Third Tuesday: Naselle Grays River School Board meets at 6:30 in school library.

Wednesdays: AA meeting at the Grays River Grange at noon.

Second Wednesday of the month: Grays River Flood Control District meets at the Grays River Fire Hall across from Duffy's Pub at 5:30. Also available by Zoom.

First Thursday of the month: Grays River/Rosburg Gardening group meets at Johnson Park at 6.

Thursdays: CAP Senior Lunches are located at Rosburg Hall at noon on 1st and 3rd Wednesdays.

Second Saturday of month: Grays River Grange's Farmers Market at the Grange 10-1.

August 25-26: Friends of the Naselle Library: annual book sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Appelo Archive Center in Naselle.

September 13: At this meeting of the Grays River Flood Control District, the Columbia Land Trust will give a presentation on new land acquisitions and projects.

Words for the Week: Be Kind


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