Saturday, November 27, 2010

So You Think You Had a Cold Thanksgiving?

Robin's cousin, former Wyoming State Representative, Frank Latta, near his Gillette, Wyoming home.

Where I live, in the area around San Francisco Bay, we had a cold snap during the Thanksgiving Holiday this year. A cold snap in this mild region means the thermometer went down to about 30°F for a few minutes each night for a couple of nights. When the morning came and the sun shone, it was relentlessly gorgeous again.

So I sent out the word among my correspondents around the nation to see what the Thanksgiving weather was like in other parts of America. I think my cousin Frank won the prize for having the coldest holiday.

Frank and I are cousins several times removed. We share a great grandfather--Frank Latta, the legendary Montana tracker and cattleman. Frank Sr. had three sons: Harry, Walter and Bud. Harry was my grandfather and Walter was Frank Jr.'s grandfather. Our branch of the family migrated to Spokane, Washington, and then California. Walter and Frank's remained in the Wild West.

The three Latta brothers after a morning outing on the Spokane River. The brothers were each just one year apart. From left: Harry (my grandfather), Bud (who later ran a business in Southern California), and Walter (the wild man of the family) who is my cousin Frank's grandfather.

Cousin Frank now lives near Gillette, Wyoming with his wife Sue, and has spent some of his time in the Wyoming state legislature. Here's his missive on Thanksgiving in the frosty West:

"Thanksgiving in Wyoming this week has been below 0°F all week. Though it is great living in Wyoming; it does have it's challenges. The photos I'm sending show our back yard. We live out in the country a little ways--but, all of Wyoming is in the country. We were invited over to family dinner in Hulett, WY, under the shadow of Devil's Tower. Saw a bald eagle, lots of deer and lots of wild turkeys! Was a nice treat! Roads were icy and snow packed, but hey it is winter! I would like to say that you have to be a little tough to live here, though we have all the worldly conveniences. However, I think we will go to our home at Lake Mead, NV, for a week or so. Even a Cowboy likes a little heat."

Frank Latta, headed back to the warmth of his home, from the chill of the Wyoming prairie.

I thought my cousin Frank would be the prizewinner for the coldest Thanksgiving, until I got this email from my friend-since-kindergarten, Lisa Gutt Arnold, who lives near her 91-year-old father Frank Gutt, on Bainbridge, Island, Washington. Lisa works for a foundation, a ferry ride away from the island, in Seattle.

"Dad & I toasted water and electricity on Thanksgiving day. Our power was off for two days & nights (40°F degrees in the house). When I arrived home on the third day (Wednesday after work) power was on, but the water was off. Pipes had frozen in my apartment complex. Dad & I agreed that it was dreadful, dreary, and depressing; but stumbled on anyway. By half-time the Saints were in control of the Cowboys, and miraculously water had been restored. And that, of course, is why we count our blessings. Even if we are Cowgirls."

Lisa and I at a cowgirl birthday bash, long ago, posing in the front yard of the home where I now live. Lisa is at left in the back row and I'm in the front at left, toting the gun.

In year's past, I've spent the holiday in the warmth of Florida, breaking bread with the bright and witty Seymour family in Winter Park. I missed them this year. But, though you can take a girl out of the West, you can't take the West out of a girl, and now I'm back where I belong, near the mighty Pacific.

Hope your Thanksgiving was full of blessings. Like my friend Lisa, and my cousin Frank--I am counting mine and giving thanks.

Thanksgiving at my door ...

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Anonymous said...

Hi,Robin. Yes, the Pacific Northwest suffered an arctic cold snap, and the Seattle region was unseasonably hard hit. I live in the cascade foothills in the small community of Oakridge, Oregon, about 40 miles east of Eugene. We had a couple inches of snow here, and lost power for a couple of hours. But with the MIghty Fighting Ducks ranked number one in the country, we can tolerate a bit of inconvenience.

Robin Chapman said...

And not just that: where you live is beautiful and has lots of open space, so you are either smart or lucky! Oregon is still one of the prettiest spots in the nation, and putting up with a little chilly weather here and there isn't much of a price to pay. (Easy for me to say in the San Francisco Bay Area!)