First Miss and White Wind Arms

Bruce playing an old time banjo made by Patrick Huff

We left Oregon sixteen years ago, and since then have lived on an island in rainy Southeast Alaska. We moved back to Oregon this past January, and last weekend decided to leave watching the Mule Springs farm road being built to visit old haunts.


Indeed we have been gone a long time.


We drove over four hours to attend the Weiser, Idaho Fiddlers’ Contest.  In the past we went to play old time string band music in the fields and parking lots outside the competition hall.  Rarely would we go in the hall to watch the competition. We had the correct dates for the festival, but what we didn’t realize was all the old-timey style musicians were there a week earlier. We arrived at ten o’clock on Thursday night, and the last group of old time musicians had left the previous day.

Bruce playing his fiddle


So, feeling a bit out of the loop, we packed up the fiddle and guitar, and drove to the Goldendale Fiddle Festival in Washington, about 4 hours away; where thankfully, we did find folks to play music with.

Trains moves through arid lands in Idaho


Our drive to Goldendale took us through an arid landscape, which previously was occupied solely by antelope, deer, coyote, small mammals, raptors, wheat farms, cattle ranches, and a few people. Now the landscape is etched with white-winged windmills, and some farmers make more money wind farming than they do wheat farming or cattle ranching.

Old farm and wind turbines


These giant flowing arms are disturbing, because they are so unlike dirt, plant, hoof, and wood; yet, they are oddly beautiful as we watch multiple white arms moving slowly in an unending circle. Part of me wants to slay them as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza would wish to do, for these giants are aliens, and their monstrous wings kill bats and birds of prey, but the part of me open to change, new beauty, and novel energy solutions is fascinated by the fresh patterns crossing familiar landscape.

Wind turbines near Goldendale, Washington

11 thoughts on “First Miss and White Wind Arms

  1. Will try and figure out how to implant a clip of our music–at some point. Thanks for the idea. Not sure if I can do it here, but WordPress is supposed to do all. 🙂

  2. There is controversy in South Africa aover wind turbine – enviornmental concerns, like you mention. I live in a windy province where it makes a lot of sense to go this route for power generation.

    1. Sorry Alison- I did not realize you had made this comment, because it went into my trash box, and I just saw it today. I’m glad you said something regarding how the wind turbines are regarded in your area. I thought about posting a couple of questions to everyone who read my piece, because I wonder how others view these wind farms. My verdict is not out on these farms; I’m still in the process of watching, evaluating, and listening to what is being said as a result of studies. You live in a windy area– do you have wind farms? Do you think they are beautiful out on the landscape or do they unsettle you- or…?

      I am curious how others perceive these modern windmills both aesthically and environmentally.

      1. Thus far we have one very small experimental windfarm in our area. So far as I know, its the only one in South Africa. Aesthetically I think the apparatus is beautiful – I am fascinated by the structures. Environmentally ? I think if the farms are placed in countryside areas the noise factor will not be a factor, and I think that local birds will soon learn to avoid the towers. I’m all for it : free, environmentally clean power : what’s not to like?

      2. Interesting you note noise Alison. I didn’t realize they made any significant noise. When we have been neat them taking photos, I have not heard any sound coming from the structure or the wings.

  3. About the time you were traipsing around looking for fiddle tunes, I was singing for a heavenly week at Voice Works in Port Townsend. My absolute favorite teacher there was Pharis Romero from Horsefly, BC. Her husband Jason is a banjo maker you might want to check out. Pharis does all the inlay. Together they make the most incredible harmonies. Click on their new album (the black one on the bottom of this link) and you can listen to my favorite- My Flower, My Companion and Me- one she taught us with her perfect pitch, mournful grace notes and amazing kindness. I love the line “No wonder I’m broken hearted…”

    1. Valerie- I couldn’t find the album page? But the banjos are awesome, and this music is exactly the style of Old Time we play, and he plays with the folks we know–Dirk Powell, Foghorn. Lucky you to attend such a workshop. We have Sacred Harp-Shapenote singing each week in Portland, but I haven’t gotten it together to go yet. It’s on my list.

      1. I found it– great, they are really good. I’m going back in now to listen to more. Thanks for the link– Sher

  4. Glad you found it- they’re awesome. Caleb and Nadine were both at Voice Works this year. Years ago, my old friend George bought the farmhouse Caleb grew up in on Orcas Island. Dirk is Fiddle Tunes!

    Are you going to this in August?

    I wish I could find an old-timey band to sing with around here… I’m finally beginning to put a name to the type of music I most like to sing.

    1. We’ll miss that festival; we have a fundraiser and a Farmer’s Market to play for and an old timey camp out in August, and a music festival in September …Other than that we will be working at Mule Springs. My playing is still weak. I don’t seem to be able to play over 1.5 hours max when I use to be able to play 5 hours easily. Bruce says it will take a year…

      So all these festivals are neat but a little daunting for me. Good luck with your singing!

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