July 20, 2009

Going Home: My Beloved Idaho

"According to the 2004 census report, Idaho's population is: 1, 393, 262. 

Just for comparison, there are 1, 970, 000 cows in Idaho.

New Rule: if your state has more cows than people, you don't get to be a state anymore."~Link to Idaho Blows

* * *

How RUDE!!! We have scads more potatoes than cows.

Idaho is and will always be the love of my heart, the state where I first swooned over hay-hauling muscle-toned farm boys with beads of sweat glistening in the summer sun as they lifted heavy things causing virgin farmgirls to ruminate on secret thoughts demanding repentance Sunday morning.

Those same boys of my yesteryear are grown men today sitting in air conditioned tractors monitored by satellites while listening to music on their ipods and reading Farm Journal Magazine. Or more likely: Business Week.

Despite relocating all over the USA, including overseas with a corporate executive husband, I'm peculiarly attached to my home state and intend to buy a parcel of land including an orchard and a vegetable garden with rows and rows of baker potatoes and rhubarb and maybe enough ground for a few chickens and a holy cow. Of course I'll also have a writing nook in my farmhouse, furnished with a desk where the secrets of country life are revealed in community stories illustrated with pen and ink sketches and random watercolors.

Maybe I'll change my name to Tasha Tater.

Does Idaho really blow?

No. Idaho doesn't blow. The wind does. If you're traveling through southern Idaho and get a flat tire during a windstorm, heed my advice: stay in your car. If you're doin' the fancy-dance 'cuz you have to take a leak, just make sure you don't park next to sagebrush taller than your car. We grow sagebrush SO BIG in Idaho, it'll crush any vehicle without a rollbar.

Rumor has it a fair number of Idaho's missing persons were foolish enough to pee in the wind and ended up plastered to juniper trees 500 or more yards away. If it was a blinding dust storm and they chose to gamble with their lives, they were blown to Winnemucca or Las Vegas---depending on how many quarters they had in their pockets.

A few skinny city slickers were recently reported flying high over the skies of Salt Lake City, their t-shirts flapping like celestial wings on heavenly messengers.

As I was driving home after a week at my parent’s petunia and geranium farm (affectionately called HOME), I caught myself humming the state song we learned in the third grade. (We either learned it word perfect or we were held back another year until we did.) Why a kid has to memorize their state song is beyond me. I’ve never seen a job application ask for the lyrics in the state of your birth but third graders in my grammar school did NOT mess with Mrs. Lewis. If she said sing the State Song with your hand over your heart while dancing the hokey-pokey on your tippie toes, you did it.

Because Mrs. Lewis terrified me half-to-death, I’ll never forget the words to a song nobody ever sings, even if my children’s names escape me now and then. Mrs. Lewis wasn’t a narcissist I don’t think but she merits mention on a narcissist blog because she serially traumatized eight-year-olds for thirty years.

As familiar scenery whizzed past my windshield, I found myself humming the words to a song I haven't sung since I moved to California and was forced to hide my true identity. Lo and behold, I finally discovered WHY I ended up with a narcissist:

It was Mrs. Lewis’s fault.

Yup, Mrs. Lewis taught me to deny reality while dutifully practicing the our State Song's lyrics and staring at the arid landscape during an hour-and-fifteen-minute ride home on the school bus. (We only lived five miles from school as the crow flies.)

Idaho State Song

copyrighted in 1915 under the name: 'Garden of Paradise'

"You've heard of the wonders our land does possess
It's beautiful valleys and hills
The majestic forests where nature abounds
We love every nook and rill

And here we have Idaho
Winning her way to fame
silver and gold in the sunset blaze
and romance lies in her name

Singing, singing of you--ah, proudly too
All the day through, we'll go singing, singing of you
Singing of Idaho

*Adopted as the state song in 1931*

(wasn't that during the depression when people flocked to romance movies and musicals to escape reality?)

In the interest of being totally honest and never again denying what my own two eyes are showing me, I will not call a desert a majestic forest and I won't call a bad marriage a romance.

In looking forward to growing old and coming full circle with the life I've been given, my ultimate dream will be to purchase a piece of Idaho's riverfront property and build my home amidst twisted junipers and alkaline soil and generations of rattlesnakes coiled beneath tick-covered and acrid-smelling sagebrush where the wind blows dust three months out of the year and bone-chilling snow the other nine. 

No cognitive dissonance here. I calls it as I sees it and ya know, there's just no place better than reality. I like to call it Home.

Hugs all,



  1. Gee whiz, CZ, ya cain't grow taters in that stuff! It takes some good ole soirl, and that don't look like no soirl ta me!

    Ya need some place what'll grow good ole corn while yer at it.


  2. Dear Cornfield,

    This may come at a surprise to an old 4-H'er like yourself but a TRUE BLUE IDAHOAN can indeed grow potatoes in that lousy soil. We even grow sugar beets to sweeten your cereal in the morning if you can imagine that.

    Our farm was located over an old volcano where the rocks not only harbored snakes, they cut the heck out of your hands when you picked them up.

    amazing what people will do to preserve the land, isn't it?

    Thanks for reading my silly post and thank you for laughing WITH ME!


  3. Okay, I've opened a gmail account just so I can comment. My husband grew up in Pocatello and he warned me about that wind before he took me back to meet the future in-laws. He also informed me that all those big famous taters are sent out of state, and Idahoans have to make due with the little ones. That said, he might just be a bit of a windbag himself.

  4. Ah, you should visit north Idaho. That's where I lived before moving to southern Idaho. I have grown accustomed to southern Idaho, but miss the mountains, forests and big lakes up north. All that aside, this entry did make me laugh.

  5. Hi anonymous!

    Northern Idaho is what most people think of when they find out I came from Idaho. "Oh, it's so beautiful!" they'll tell me.

    My moral dilemma is whether or not to tell them the truth. Hmmmmm….

    LOL…j’est kiddin’

    If I didn’t love my home state so much, I’d never make jokes about spuds and duds and centuries old sagebrush. I grew up on the Snake River, where I learned to swim. Now there are homes lining the shores and ya know, I’d love to own one. Who knows? Maybe it’ll happen…The first thing I’ll do is PLANT SOME TREES.

    Thanks for reading and double thanks for laughing with me!


  6. “he might just be a bit of a windbag himself.”


    Dear Jan,

    Please tell your windy husband ‘Hello” from a Magic Valley Farm girl. I love it when Idahoans meet on the Internet! I’ll bet the computer has been a lifesaver for isolated people in those small, small communities.

    By the way, I enjoy your blog, Jan…very much! Keep writing!

    Link to Jan’s blog: http://planetjan.wordpress.com/



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