“We moved to Baker in September of 2019 about six months before the lock down so I’m just learning what it’s like here, what is normal Baker City life. In March I started working part time at the Geiser Grand and people come up and ask me, ‘What’s it like here?’ and I don’t really have an answer because I’m just learning myself. This is sort of semi-retirement for my husband and I, and a chance to focus on our art. The pandemic changed things quite a bit. It was the first time in my life since I was 16, and I’m 50 now, that I wasn’t working, so I had a whole year off to focus on art, work on my house, work on myself, and so on.
I have a passion for doing wildlife rehabilitation and I’d love to do it here. I volunteered for three years doing rescue, rehabilitation and release with raptors at a wildlife care center in Washington, and it’s what I’m really passionate about doing. But there isn’t a rehab center here. Just this past week I saw a duck in the middle of the street, a mallard, that maybe came down from the smoke and then a cat got it I think. So I drove it all the way to Pendleton. That is the closest rehab center. Oh I would love to volunteer again but Pendleton is way too far.
I mainly worked with owls and raptors – eagles, hawks bald eagles, golden eagles. I always loved owls and I thought, oh, if I volunteered maybe one day I’ll be able to work with the owls. And the first day I was there, they threw me in the cage and said, ‘Here, get to know the owls and clean up after them.’ Well that was very exciting. Wow, I had no idea I’d be right in with the owls. I learned to kind of communicate with them, to an extent. You’re not supposed to connect with rehabilitating animals, but there were some that were educational birds that lived on the property because they could never be released. I was able to learn to communicate with them through blinking and that was really interesting to me. It takes patience but it does make you more in tune with them and it’s very rewarding. Being a part of the release of a rehabilitated bird is the most amazing thing. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to see them go on about their life and to know you helped them. It’s different than if you work in a vet office or the Humane Society because I would feel like I need to take all those animals home, but with wildlife, you can’t. They’re supposed to be out there on their own and you know that from the beginning.”