Nature of Words 2010

With nine guest authors, an award-winning editor and dinner keynote Sam Waterston, there’s bound to be something of interest for almost anyone at this year’s The Nature of Words (NOW) literary festival. Every November, NOW brings the largest and most extensive literary celebration to Central Oregon. Spanning five days, the festival includes guest author readings and book signings, workshops and lectures by the guest authors, a gala author dinner, an open mic for workshop participants featuring a guest author, and the Rising Star Creative Writing Competition Awards for emerging writers. The 2010 festival will present guest authors in fiction, literary non-fiction and poetry. Plus, for all those who have the urge to write a book, the vice-president of Knopf will offer insights into the publishing world.

Meet the Guest Authors & Presenters
Jimmy Santiago Baca – was raised first by his grandmother and later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at age 13, it was after Baca served time in a maximum security prison at the age of 21 that he began to turn his life around: there he learned to read and write. He is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the National Poetry Award, the International Hispanic Heritage Award, and, for his memoir A Place To Stand, the prestigious International Award.

Michael Dickman - recently won the James Laughlin Award for the most outstanding second book, a collection titled Flies, by an American poet. His first collection was The End of the West. Dickman has received several fellowships, including a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton for 2009-2010. His poems have appeared in publications including The New Yorker.

Gary Fisketjon - a highly-respected Editor-at-Large and Vice President of Alfred A. Knopf Inc., Publisher, has edited many well-known writers, including 2010 guest author Kent Haruf. As an editor at Random House and Vintage Books, he created the Vintage Contemporaries Series and built his reputation publishing literary fiction as paperback originals--then, and still, considered radical.

Kent Haruf – a masterful writer of dialogue and detail, sites his novels in his native Colorado. His novel Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and The New Yorker Book Award. Haruf’s descriptions of rural existence are a richly nuanced mixture of stark details and poetic evocations of the natural world.

Hillary Jordan – whose debut novel, Mudbound, received the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, a prize that rewards books of conscience, social responsibility and literary merit. Jordan is a novelist whose authentic and earthy prose is expected to echo for years to come. Barbara Kingsolver said, “Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm.”

Anne Lamott – a ruthlessly honest and funny best-selling author of fiction and non-fiction. writes and speaks about subjects that begin with capital letters: Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus. Titles include Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year, and Traveling Mercies, autobiographical essays on faith. Her newest novel is Imperfect Birds. She has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at UC Davis and numerous writing conferences.

Barry Lopez - essayist, author and short story writer, and winner of The Nature of Words 2010 Caldera Special Recognition Award, has traveled extensively in remote and populated parts of the world. He received the National Book Award for Arctic Dreams. His most recent book is Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, a reader’s dictionary of regional landscape terms. Lopez’s writings have frequently been compared to those of Henry David Thoreau.

Paulann Petersen - Oregon’s new Poet Laureate, is a former Stegner fellow at Stanford University. Her fifth collection, The Voluptuary, will be released in November 2010 by Lost Horse Press. Petersen was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award for A Bride of Narrow Escape. Petersen has taught poetry workshops for colleges, libraries and writers’ conferences.

Brian Turner – a soldier-poet, who has written first-person accounts of the Iraq war and dealing with the trauma and after-effects of war, authored a much-praised second collection, Phantom Noise, a window into dealing with the traumatic after-effects of war. Turner’s prizewinning debut book of poems, Here, Bullet won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 Pen Center USA “Best in the West” award, and the 2007 Poets Prize, among others.

David Whyte - poet, author and naturalist, whose work reflects a deep connection to the natural world, is a native of Yorkshire, England. The author of six books of poetry and three books of prose, Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology and has traveled extensively throughout the world. His life as a poet has created a following in three normally mutually exclusive areas: the literate world of readings that most poets inhabit, the psychological and theological worlds of philosophical enquiry and the world of vocation, work and organizational leadership.

Sam Waterston to Keynote Author Dinner
Acclaimed actor and Shakespearean scholar Sam Wa terston will deliver the keynote at the gala author dinner on Saturday, November 6. Also, guest authors in attendance will provide brief readings. The evening begins with a wine reception where you can mix and mingle with the literati glitterati!

Festival Schedule
The complete festival schedule and tickets for all events are available at
Reading tickets are also available at the Tower Theatre or
· Rising Star Creative Writing Competition Awards – Wednesday, November 3, 7:30 p.m., COCC Library, 2600 NW College Way, Bend.
· Guest Author Readings and Signings – Thursday and Friday, November 4 & 5, 7:00 p.m., Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend.
· VIP Reception – Friday, November 5, 5:30 p.m., Umpqua Bank, 828 NW Wall St., Bend
· Guest Author Workshops and Lectures – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, November 4, 5 and 6, check website for times and schedules.
· Author Dinner – Saturday, November 6, 5:30 p.m., High Desert Museum, 59800 S. Highway 97, Bend.
· Open Mic – Sunday, November 7, 11:00 a.m., Bend Public Library, 601 NW Wall St. Bend.

Pendleton Round-Up Celebrates 100 Years

The first Pendleton Round-Up was to be “a frontier exhibition of picturesque pastimes, Indian and military spectacles, cowboy racing and bronco busting for the championship of the Northwest.” It turned out to be that and more. For the initial show, all stores closed. “The largest crowd in Pendleton’s history,” 7,000 strong, showed up for the first show on September 29, 1910, a newspaper writer reported.

The Pendleton Round-Up probably has roots in Pendleton’s 1909 Fourth of July festival, which featured bronc and bull riding, horse races, Indian dancing, greased pig contests, foot races and other informal competitions. The rodeo was primarily a creation of local ranchers led by Herman Rosenberg who raised $5,000 by issuing 500 shares of stock at $10 a share. The success of this celebration inspired community leaders to organize a more formal celebration along the lines of Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, a popular Wyoming rodeo first held in 1897.

In July 1910, Pendleton residents established the Northwestern Frontier Exhibition Association, which arranged for the first Round-Up to take place that September, timed late in the month to allow grain farmers to finish the harvest. The 1910 Round-Up proved successful beyond expectation, attracting thousands of visitors to Pendleton, which at the time only had a few thousand residents. People poured in from all over the region to watch dozens of events, including bucking contests, trick riding, steer roping, and the Roman race, where two horses ran abreast while a rider stood on top of them, one foot on each horse. There were events for both men and women, and unlike some rodeos, people of all races were invited to participate. Two decades later, patrons showed up from 36 states and eight foreign countries.

Following two years in which the Round-Up was not held, because of World War II, attendance climbed again, eventually reaching 50,000 or more for the four-day show. The first Round-Up earned $3,000 in profit, though money was not the primary motivation behind the Round-Up, which was first and foremost an exhibition of Pendleton’s civic pride and a celebration of their not-so-distant frontier past. The official program of the 1912 Round-Up described it as “a carnival of the cowboy, that’s what the Round-Up is; a three-day frontier festival…where riders of the range, man and woman, white, red and black, meet to compete with each other in the various contests which go to prove cowboy and cowgirl skill.” “Success bred success and Round-Up stayed in high gear,” says the book Let ‘er Buck! A history of the Pendleton Round-Up.

If you think of yourself as a true Oregonian you just must attend the Round-Up and have a shot of whiskey with the friendly crowd in the Let ‘er Buck Room. Round-Up Week The rodeo starts with an extreme run in on horseback of flag bearers; the Flag of the United States, the Flag of Oregon, the Flag of Canada, and the flag of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, then the Round-Up Queen and her court run in on their horses at full speed, make two jumps and stop just before the fence in front of the south grandstand. The current announcer of the Pendleton Round-Up is Wayne Brooks, while the bullfighters are Joe Baumgartner, Lloyd Ketchum, and Keith Isley all with numerous accolades.

Every Round-Up week begins with the Dress Up Parade, on the Saturday before the rodeo, in which different groups throughout Eastern Oregon, including Boy and Girl Scouts, Pendleton High School Band, the Children’s Rodeo, and many local businesses, build floats and compete for first place. 2009 President’s Choice Award was given to the PHS band. Friday of Round-Up week is the Westward Ho! parade, in which every entrant must be in a non-motorized vehicle, most of which are authentic covered wagons and horse-drawn buggies, though some choose to ride horseback or walk. The Monday and Tuesday before the rodeo begins the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) who compete in the Happy Canyon Arena. Indian participation has been a strong attraction, too, in the Round-Up arena, at Happy Canyon, in the Indian Village and in the Westward Ho! Parade. WILD COW MILKING Anyone can join in the mayhem. Entries are due August 23.  The fee is $200 per team, ($100 per person).   

Fifteen (15) teams will compete on Wednesday, September 15 and Fifteen (15) teams will compete on Friday, September 17. The top five (5) teams from each day will compete on Saturday, September 18, during the finals. 800-457-6336 to sign up. Some of the rules include:  One legal catch – slick around the neck. No milking when cow is down. No inhumane treatment of animals (any team intentionally choking down or dragging an animal, will forfeit all money and be immediately disqualified from further competition). Milk must run out of bottle. Any roper or mugger using anyone other than the roper or mugger that has signed a release will forfeit all money and be disqualified.  The only exception will be for injuries.  If a roper or mugger has to be replaced due to injury prior approval is required from the committee representative.

Long before women’s lib, the fairer sex got into the act at the Round-Up – cowgirls in the early days of the Round-Up could be as tough as men. In 1914 Bertha Blanchett, wife of cowboy Del Blancett, came within 12 points of winning the all-around title. Bronc rider Bonnie McCarroll (1897-1929) died in a rodeo accident at Pendleton. The PRCA, formed in 1936, initially scheduled no events for women as a result of her tragic death. McCarroll, born Mary Ellen “Dot” Treadwell, was a champion rodeo performer and bronc rider who also excelled in steer riding, bulldogging and automobile jumping.

In her riding career, McCarroll competed with such other female performers as Tad Lucas, Mabel Strickland, Fox Hastings and Florence Hughes.[2] McCarroll was born on a cattle ranch at High Valley, near Boise, Idaho. In 1922, she won two cowgirl bronc riding championships at both Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the first rodeo hosted at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In 1915, her first year of rodeo competition, McCarroll attracted national attention from a photograph taken of her being thrown from the horse named “Silver” at the Pendleton Round-Up. In her career, she performed before kings, queens, such dignitaries as U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, while he was vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1927, and before countless rodeo fans worldwide.

After her death, rodeo officials instituted safety regulations and eliminated bronc riding as a women’s sport. McCarroll referred to her early years in learning to ride broncos: “My Papa handed me the rein and told me to ride. I covered that bucker from all sides, for about three seconds.........and awoke in my bed. I heard the sound of spurs, but not like walking, like singing. I hunted for the sound and finally opened my eyes. My Papa was setting across from my bed with one leg crossed over the other. He was spinning his spur in one hand and fumbling his hat in the other. When he saw my eyes open he leaned in and said ‘you loosened up on your grip, don’t do it again, you’ll get hurt!’

He put his hat on and walked out, leaving me to lick my wounds, in my own good time. And I suspect I will never forget.” The Pendleton Round-Up of September 1929 was to have been McCarroll’s final competition, for she had planned to retire with her husband, Frank Leo McCarroll, also a bulldogging performer,[4] to their home in Boise. While giving a bronc riding exhibition, she was suddenly thrown from her mount, Black Cat. The animal turned a somersault upon her. She was rushed to a hospital but died later of her spinal wounds and pneumonia. In 2002, Bonnie McCarroll was posthumously inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Climbing South Sister

Story and Photography by Dr. BRAD WARD

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn. — John Muir Every year literally hundreds of people reach the top of South Sister, some making it a yearly pilgrimage, like the Hajj and going to Mecca. It is almost a rite of passage to live in Central Oregon that at one time or another you stand atop this great peak. Looming over Bend at 10,358 feet, it is the highest of the Three Sisters and the third largest mountain in Oregon. It also boasts the largest Glacier in Oregon, Prouty Glacier.

The youngest of the Three Sisters, it has the most recent volcanic activity, and on the summit is the highest lake in Oregon, Teardrop Lake. I have been fortunate enough to reach the top of the South Sister six times. My two oldest children, Jackson and Alexis, have each climbed to the top at the ages of nine and eleven respectively. Even my wife Dana (age purposely omitted) reached the summit a few years ago. Periodically, I am asked about tips for climbing this magnificent peak. While I have climbed many technical peaks in the Cascade and Teton Ranges, I consider myself a novice mountaineer.

I will however share my knowledge and advice about reaching the top of the South Sister.

When should I make the trip? The best times to climb are July through September. This is when the weather is most stable. Prior to July there is still a significant amount of snow on the trail which makes for a more technically challenging attempt. Usually the trail completely clears of snow by mid or late July, and there is always a well-worn trail to the summit that is easy to follow. September is a great time to go as you avoid the crowds and the heat of the summer, but there is less daylight and less stable weather.

What should I bring? Being prepared is not only safe it will make the trip much more enjoyable. I am somewhat of a minimalist, adhering to the mountaineering code of “fast and light.” I generally wear a breathable shirt and comfortable shorts. Medium thickness socks are best for cushion and not getting too hot. I use lightweight hiking shoes, but tennis shoes are fine on this trail. I would avoid heavy mountain boots as they are unnecessary and can slow you down. As there is no water along the trail, I bring two liters of fluid. One tip to make the trip more enjoyable is to bring two different types of beverages such as water, Gatorade, or other drinks you enjoy. Later in the day drinking the same thirst-quencher becomes monotonous. I pack a small lunch and throw in several energy bars to snack on. Sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen are a must as there is no shade on the upper two thirds of the mountain. I also pack a lightweight fleece as well as a lightweight rain jacket. It can get cold and windy on the top even in the middle of the summer. I don’t pack bug spray but would advise to apply some just before hitting the trail. Also don’t forget bring a camera for the summit shot. All of this fits easily in a light day-pack.

How long does the trip take? A few years ago I pulled up to rural gas station and asked the attendant how long it took to get to the next town. Just after he spit his tobacco, he answered “it depends on how fast you drive.” Certainly the same applies to climbing the South Sister. If you are super fit and motivated to get up and down you can make the trip in a few hours. Most people who are taking a leisurely pace will take most of the day to do the round-trip. I would advise to leave the trail head early in the morning to give you a good cushion to make it back before dark. Unless you make an alpine start (before dawn) you’re destined to be subject to the heat of the sun for most of the trip. I would estimate most trips take about 6-8 hours. Remember, the total distance is 12.4 miles with an altitude gain of over 5,000 feet.

Is the climb dangerous? The short answer is no. The longer answer is accidents can happen. There is no exposure to fall unless you get off the trail on the summit. While this is possible it is highly unlikely. Getting struck by lightning is another danger, but would require significantly bad decisions about staying out in the open during poor weather. There have been people who have gotten lost on the South Sister, but these are instances of people being unfamiliar with the trail and being up on the mountain after the sun goes down or in inclement weather.

Where does the trail begin? The majority of people start at the Devil’s Lake trail head. There is a parking lot at the lake, but most people park on the Cascade Lakes highway. The trail itself starts across a street from the lake. Be sure and have your Northwest Forest Pass displayed on your car. Alternatively, you can begin the climb at the Green Lakes trail head. This may be a little bit longer route, but is also more scenic. I have always started at the Devil’s Lake trail head as it is the most direct course.

What is the trip like? I divide the trip into three parts, with each part about two miles. The first part is a beautiful hike through a forest that becomes steeper towards the end. Mosquitoes can be bad here, hence the application of bug spray at the trail head. The second part is mostly flat on a plateau over looking Moraine Lake to the east. The third part is referred to as “the cinder cone from hell,” and for the most part is a deserved nickname. This is a slog up scree and rock that gets steeper towards the top, making it the most challenging and frustrating part of the trip. After this part it is a leisurely walk towards the north to the true summit. Obviously being on top is only half of the trip, and coming down is a real workout on your quadriceps. While the entire trip is not arduous, it certainly takes a reasonable amount of fitness and endurance.

Can children make the trip? This is certainly a climb that even young children can make, although the parents and children need to be realistic about what they’re doing. I have seen very fit appearing college-age guys turning around on the cinder cone as well as seeing a small girl who appeared to be about 6 years old leisurely walking about on the summit. My advice would be to start with something smaller such as Black Butte or Tumalo Mountain before doing the South Sister with kids. Being halfway up this mountain is not a good place for a crying and tired child. My oldest child Jackson made it to the top at the age of nine but took some gentle coaxing to get him to attempt it. My oldest daughter Alexis reached the summit at the age of eleven, but it took some gentle coaxing all along the trip. I think the most important thing is for the child to have significant motivation to want to make it to the top. It can be a long day and frequent rests are a good idea when going with youngsters.

Where would you advise to stop along the way? I would make the first stop about halfway up the forest part of the climb where there is a little clearing. This is a good spot to readjust packs and shoes and get a drink. The next place to stop would be at the top of the forest at the start of the plateau. Again this is another good place to adjust your gear and stay hydrated. At this point I set my sites on the area at the base of a glacial tarn at the foot of the Lewis Glacier. I call this area the “lunch spot” as it is a popular stop before the cinder cone. There are also chipmunks that will eat out of your hand here for entertainment. From the lunch spot make it a goal to not stop until you reach the summit plateau. This is the steepest and least enjoyable part of the climb and a steady pace without stopping will make the best time. On the way down I would advise to stop less frequently as your legs will cramp up if you sit down too long. Be sure to stop and get the rocks out of your shoes however.

What other tips do you have about the trip? I use trekking poles as they help with balance particularly on the way down, and it really saves stress on your knees. Another tip is to bring an extra pair of socks and change on the summit. This may prevent blisters from forming, but bringing some moleskin is another good idea. I like to use a hydration bag and take small sips of fluid frequently along the trail. This way you can stay hydrated without having to make frequent stops. Don’t feel bashful when you have to relieve yourself behind a tree. If you don’t have to urinate at least 2-3 times on the trip you probably have not maintained very good hydration. Pack a lunch that you really will enjoy. I usually take pre-packaged crackers, turkey, and cheese as well trail mix. I’ll also pack different types of energy bars so I’m not eating the same thing the whole trip. Lastly, take lots of pictures. The summit shots are great, but it is to fun to have multiple pictures of the journey. Climbing the South Sister is a great summer activity, and you will forever look at the peak from Bend in a different light, knowing you have been on the top. Summer is approaching, so let the pilgrimage begin! Dr. Ward is a neurosurgeon at The Center and a freelance writer. He can be contacted at

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