A few weeks ago, my friend Jaime Swick and I went on a mini adventure in Oregon. We jumped in my car and just drove for a night eastbound. We ventured into the Painted Hills region in eastern Oregon, which is an amazing geological site. However, it was the small sawmill town of Mitchell, Oregon that captured my attention. Driving into the town was like driving back in time. Immediately we were known as tourists, and friendly greeted by a woman who has lived in the small town for over fifty years. She ran a three-section thrift/consignment shop heated by a classic iron wood stove. History poured from her lips, giving life to the dilapidating buildings around us. During the prohibition the previous owner of her store made his own moonshine in the basement. The one grocery store was first started in a small box-of-a-building barely standing across the street.
She had worked for the grocery store and said every time the owner left for a fishing trip the main sliding door would fall off the track, and everyone would have to enter through the back door until he returned to fix it. Back in the day, Mitchell used to be a sawmill town, which shut down, leaving the town pretty desolate. The city is celebrating 100 years this August. I bought two small dessert recipe books from her for 84 cents. I hope to make some cookies and bring them to their birthday party. Apparently their one cafe makes amazing milkshakes which I have yet to try. We talked to about everyone in the cafe at once, and our shyness kept the visit short. Driving out of the town, Jaime and I wondered how long this little town will hold on, and what is to come of places like this and people as these who are foreigners to modern culture. As the economical gap widens in America and the globe, it feels these places are aging alongside their natives without youngins to take on the cooking and cleaning. But these people in these places seem to be going about their daily routines just fine for now. Pocketed between beautiful landscapes eases the desolate feelings, so it seems. The fog and ice alone are enough to make one feel quite content about any place, dying or thriving.