By Christopher BethellI’ve thrown around the word “home” a lot this week.
Firstly I missed my home, but then I felt like home also started to exist here. Walking the streets, drinking in bars, shopping at Walmart — I’m bumping into people I know; I’m starting to feel like I’m a part of a community.
In Walmart, Richard Johnson shouted over to me as I was scanning my tomatoes. And in Hogan’s, I bumped into a long-haired, bearded man called Kevin that two nights previous had given me an obscure, orangey drink that tasted like Buck’s Fizz. He came over and reintroduced himself to me and my friend Matt (a photographer from London who was passing through that day), introducing us to all of his friends at the bar. We sang a beautiful (definitely horrible) rendition of “Hey Ya” over an acoustic guitar out in the yard, and I’m almost certain it wasn’t a cringey moment.
The artist, Beth Rimmelspacher, took me on two road trips. Firstly to Wallowa Lake with her friend Lori and her husband Don. We ate marshmallow squares as we snaked in and out of canyons and photographed the gray canvas of fog that obscured our vision. Later in the week, we checked out the petroglyphs toward Hells Canyon with Beth’s friend Theresa. I also wanted to get my animal fix this week, and as my grandfather loved horses, I contacted a few stables in the area. Alicia Yoder from Rockin Y Stables invited me down to meet her horse Agape and have a tour of the site. Her horse is named after God’s immeasurable love for human kind. Wilson Banner Ranch welcomed me too, with Michelle Wilson-Martin giving me a tour of their land as they prepped for the upcoming harvest fair.
Moving into my last week in the valley, I can’t believe how quickly I have cemented a home for myself on the other side of the world. I’ve made friends that I’ll keep forever.
Bethell is a British freelance photographer who is spending October in Clarkston trying to learn more about his grandfather, Joseph “Joey” Leo O’Donnell, who died here in 1989 at the age of 48. People can contact Bethell at firstname.lastname@example.org.