OYL July 16

Continuing my One Year Later series, I am writing less often about what I put in my COVID journal last year. It’s mostly because I am so tired of living in a pandemic that I don’t want to talk about it in my blog. But a year on, I am yet fascinated by the things that were in my head back then. For today’s post, I mention the origin of the thing that helped me stay sane last year despite living alone and being in lockdown: I co-founded a fundraising effort that immediately took up 99% of my time and lasted the rest of 2020. I didn’t have time to freak out about Covid anymore.

A field of Bachelor Buttons and Queen Anne’s Lace at Lyle Point. I took this photo while walking down to the water to watch the sunset the last weekend of June 2020. I did not know I was walking onto Yakama land. That very night I met the fisherman who would become my friend and contact from then on. We have remained close to this day.

A year ago, July 4, 2020. “So COVID is following the path that I expected in many parts of the world, just not in the U.S. We are right now registering the highest daily totals so far, in some places. New Zealand has declared victory and completely opened up again. Mandatory face mask rules have gone into place in OR and WA. I imagine in CA too, since our three states have banded together. The coastal governors on both east and west coasts have formed mini-coalitions, since they need help and they’re not getting it from the federal government. I think that’s shocking. Trump’s disaster is glaring, far-reaching, and becoming obvious to more and more people. I still think his re-election chances are pretty good. It still feels like 50/50 at the most hopeful. His supporters are digging in their heels and they love him more than ever. Anyway, despite our failure, the places around me have begun to open up and I have embraced it. I, too, am sick of being scared of the world and scared of other people.”

Today in 2021, I realize this idea of “being scared of other people” is unhealthy for humanity. It clings to me everywhere I go: fear of getting too close to anyone, of accidentally touching anyone. I believe humans cannot thrive while afraid of each other.

July 5. “I have co-founded a fundraiser project with Lynnette who is on the Cherokee Council. We started a GoFundMe with the support of the Council, so we are calling it a Cherokee project and named it Natives Helping Natives. Lynnette is focused on Warm Springs and I am focused on Lyle Point. We are coordinating fundraising and dividing the donations. It happened serendipitously, and now in my heart I have adopted a Yakama family and I can’t stop thinking about them. A vacation weekend in Lyle put me into the path of Natives in need, who reached out to me for help directly. It seems I am incapable of saying no. But obviously, it involves a lot of driving to Lyle, Washington, and that is a long way away. It’s 2 1/2 hours of driving one way, but the trip is always longer because I stop and pick up donated items along the way.”

July 7. “It’s day seven that the GoFundMe has been live, and the donation are still pouring in, as well as donated food and water and everything else. It just keeps growing and has me overwhelmed and stressed. I get so happy when I go out and deliver though. I’ve made three deliveries so far and planning the next on Thursday. The fishermen are proud and insist on paying me every time I go. Their currency is salmon.”

At the fish cleaning station at Lyle Point. I can’t even tell you how many fish I’ve cleaned in the past year!

July 9. “Today is a stressful delivery day because I’m also hoping to collect more fish. Then I need to deliver the fish. Part of why the Yakama on the river are suffering is that they make a living selling the salmon they catch. Their buyers are mostly tourists and restaurants, and during COVID both have disappeared. They catch fish but there is no one to sell them to. So I have been buying all they have and driving it in to Vancouver, Washington, where Karen begins calling friends far and wide and trying to sell the fish. On these days, when I get back to the city from Lyle, I then hang out at Karen’s place till all the fish are sold. Karen – the wonderful woman who does what we call the “fish brokering” – is super stressed about it and that is making me stressed. I don’t know how much to expect to pay for the fish, and I’m worried they might be too expensive for people who want them, but I’m ready to cover the difference between what people want to pay and what I paid for them in Lyle. But bless her for taking on this huge and supportive role for the fishermen and women.”

A view from Lyle, WA across the train tracks to Lyle Point – Yakama land. you can see the camp trailers out there, which are the homes of the fishermen. There is no electricity, no plumbing, no infrastructure except one public bathroom and a fish cleaning station with running water. Their choice is to live on the land and make a living by the old ways, as much as they are able to.
Often I’m too tired to clean the fish in Lyle, and bring them home to clean.

July 12. “The US is consistently breaking records here and around the world with COVID cases and deaths. We still super suck at getting testing done. I’m worried about my potential for exposing the Yakama river people, but the low case numbers where I live make me feel better. However, I’ve been going into Portland and Vancouver a lot more lately, with doing this organizing, and that makes me a risky person to them.”

As tired as I was from all the driving, my views were incredible all the way, and it cheered me.
This is the bridge across the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. I use this bridge to get to Lyle. In the distance you can see the peak of my favourite volcano, Mt. Hood.
This is also Lyle Point, off to the side, and it is a favourite wind surfing spot for Columbia River Gorge enthusiasts. While the pandemic impacted many lives, this spot stayed full of sportsmen and women all year long.

July 15. “Total cases: 3,416,428 Total deaths: 135,991. These totals are so crazy, and just going up, up. I was at a restaurant yesterday (only outdoor seating is allowed) and heard couples talking loudly, table to table, about how the cases were going up, but thank goodness the deaths were dropping fast. They laughed and said it’s because all the old people died and now just young healthy people are left to contract the virus, and that’s why they’re all surviving. Whoah. Such drastically bad perceptions. Not sure where they’re getting their information, because it’s incorrect. I think so much of peoples’ knowledge about COVID-19 is from discussions like this. I am Crystal, and motivated to speak up and set them right, but I just shook my head and kept eating. My voice would probably only make them defensive. And it doesn’t matter. They’ll have their opinions no matter what, and my voice won’t change them.”

Today in 2021, I will say that I choose my interjections, but can’t help myself but speak up sometimes. If you’ve read my blog you will know this about me. I have a passion that bubbles out and I simply can’t keep it in all the time, and sometimes I speak carelessly or rashly. But these days I try to talk to people I think I may have an impact on, people who might trust me, and I gently try to offer other perspectives.

July 18. “I’ve been sick the last couple days. Very mild and likely related to allergies. My lymph nodes in my neck are swollen and painful. I had signed up to participate in a Covid-19 study with OHSU last month and I’ve been checking in and reporting my symptoms every morning, which have been nothing. Anyway, they decided my symptoms qualified me for a COVID-19 test. I just received it in the mail yesterday. An at-home test! Didn’t even know those existed. I can’t imagine it’s as good a quality as possible, but I’m curious to take it. This test doesn’t test for antibodies, so I won’t know if I’ve had it, only if I’ve got it right now. I wonder if the rules will be that I can’t interact with the Yakama anymore. I’m convinced my symptoms are related to being tired of working on the GoFundMe campaign. I’ve been driving like crazy, putting on hundreds of miles every few days. Went to the Warm Springs reservation yesterday (a three-hour drive one way) which was really great because I was surrounded by people who wanted to help, just like me. The volunteer community boosted my reserves. At Warm Springs a bunch of residents showed up to carry stuff and unload the vehicles. That was super cool to meet them finally. Everyone was so grateful it made me feel a little embarrassed. I am uncomfortable with this role and I don’t know how to demonstrate that I want to be a servant rather than merely a deliverer of gifts. Before we left, one man sang an honor song for us, and it brought tears to my eyes immediately. I could feel the song filling up my chest. Dan, the coordinator, said he saw an eagle afterward, which was significant. That’s pretty cool because when Rebecca and I went to Lyle last time, there was a group of circling eagles, and one of the Yakama said it was good medicine. I can stand some of this spirituality in my life.”

I snapped the photo because of the blue flowers, but was delighted with the copper colour that comes through. It looks like a filter, but it is not. This is how my phone decided to capture this scene.

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