A Blossom Welcome

This is simply a glorious time of year to be in the Hood River valley.

In April, and throughout the year, this is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world, and the emergence of all those fruit blossoms just embosses the view, for locals and visitors alike.

Blossom Festival 2014 started last weekend, with plenty of great activities including the highly successful Hard-Pressed Cider Fest. With its huge and receptive turnout, little doubt this has earned the title “first annual”: We look forward to the 2015 edition. Its resounding success is a reflection of the new and widespread interest in cider, and the art of making it. The local cideries, and the Chamber, were correct to look for a way to catch that golden wave.

This weekend brings even more to see, feel, and taste throughout the Hood River valley. There’s pancakes and desserts for the palate, alpaca fleece and handmade baby clothes for the fingertips, classical music for the ears, and lavender for the nose. And that’s just for starters.

The Blossom Festival is a multi-faceted celebration of the importance of agriculture along with the culinary, horticultural, homecraft, and musical traditions that make this county so vibrant, literally and figuratively. The blossoms that give the festival its name are the lovely precursors of the edible wonders that will burst forth in round and oblong shapes this summer and fall, the bountiful fruit that grows from Hood River to Parkdale and even farther south.

The flowers tell us what is to come, and remind us of the critical role the orchards play in the economy and culture of this area. Enjoy your time this weekend, and think of ways to return to those orchards and other locations this summer and fall, to see the fruit in completion and enjoy even further delicious iterations of the county’s bounty.

Blossom is not only for visitors; new and familiar events are on the schedule this weekend, and together they comprise an excellent opportunity to enjoy fun and delicious things in our own backyard.

In the words of Mike Glover, chamber executive director, “It’s an exciting time of year and a great time to get out and explore. Whether you are a visitor or a resident, there’s so much to see and do — take in the Blossom Fest events and follow the Blossom Fest route to visit our local orchards and wineries.”

See page A1 for a summary of this weekend’s events, and look for more details and a map in Panorama, Blossoms section, along with the rest of Glover’s welcome letter.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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