Fort Umpqua Days are Back

Fort Umpqua front gate

Fort Umpqua Days will be back this year after two years off, and that seems worth a celebration.

It all begins on Saturday morning, September 3 at 10 o’clock at the Elkton Community Education Center, 15850 OR-38 W, Elkton, Oregon, west of town.

That’s by the popular Butterfly Pavilion. The fort lies just down the hill. It’s a two-day event from 10 to 4 on both Saturday and Sunday, plus evening performances of the annual “Echoes of The Umpqua Pageant.”

Monarch butterfly – Robin Loznak photo

This Labor Day celebration has become a tradition in small-town Elkton, Oregon, home of the reconstructed Fort Umpqua, the southernmost outpost of the British Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1800s. It will be good to return to that tradition.

Locals and visitors gather on the weekend to enjoy a parade through downtown, a pie auction, BBQ, live music, tours of the wonderful Butterfly Pavilion, and more. I’ll be among the vendors up near the pavilion, where I’ll be selling my books, stories about Oregon’s dramatic history of those days–A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds.

From “The First Mountain Man” by Andy Thomas – with permission of the artist

Kids will find plenty of fun, including a voyageur expedition, to see what these fur traders did in the heyday of this fort.

My second book, The Shifting Winds, delves into this era with fictional mountain man Jake Johnston as a good friend of historical mountain man Joe Meek. Both came west to Oregon in the early 1840s after the beaver played out in the Rockies. Once in Oregon they wanted to help their fellow Americans claim the rich Oregon Territory, which was then jointly occupied by the US and Britain.

Folks who reconstructed Fort Umpqua worked diligently to maintain an authentic representation of the original, and people will be on site during the Labor Day event to answer questions.

Reenactors and blacksmiths often attend, showing their work to add more color, and they’re happy to offer information as well.

You might even find a mountain man or two.

Inside Hudson’s Bay Company Store, Fort Umpqua

Remember Karen “Many Voices” Haas who was there for Fort Umpqua Days last time? I was so glad she showed me how she uses a drop spindle. It’s a device that was used for many centuries, millennia even. I have a character in my upcoming historical series spinning thread with a drop spindle some 3,500 years ago. After watching Karen I was better able to describe the process.

Karen using a drop spindle to spin thread, shown here at the fort with her husband Patrick, both in period dress.
Outside Hudson’s Bay Company store, Fort Umpqua
Back gate of Fort Umpqua from the hill above

Thinking of Ireland

As drought dries the landscape of my Oregon home, turning the green to gold, I dream of the green fields of Ireland.

Horses in Ireland’s green fields

One day soon I hope to revisit the magic of Ireland. Meanwhile my books take me there.

My upcoming book series features two island settings–Ireland and Crete. For some time I have started this ancient historical saga in Crete, but I’m bringing Ireland forward now with Whisper of Wings as the opening book, where they call the place by its old name Éire.

Irish clan leader Bria finds a champion to help fight the slavers who plague her People of the Stones, but his warrior ways bring their own grief. The Éireanns play a role in most of the other stories.

I first visited Ireland because of my Irish roots. My DNA shows at least a trickle of Irish blood. I know my maternal grandparents were both part Irish. That was enough for me to adopt the place.

By the next trip I had learned more about the stone circles scattered over Ireland and had drafted Whisper of Wings. One more trip helped answer new questions that came up as the series grew. I see another Irish book in the future, beyond the series–or loosely tied to it. The island shall always hold a special place in my heart. The green and the friendliness of its people and the magic of its ancient monuments refresh my soul.

Irish back roads on the way to Bohonagh Stone Circle near Rosscarbery
The magic of ancient stones and new spring bluebells at Bohonagh Stone Circle, Ireland

My Website’s New Look

Styles change. Systems change. The Home page has taken on a whole new look, thanks to my daughter Christiane. She handles this portal to my website–which takes more technological know-how than I have.

The banner photo for Home page, a bay in southern Ireland

The Home page banner photo shown above is one I took on my last evening at Rosscarbery, Ireland, on a recent site research trip to Europe. This bay provides a setting for many scenes in my upcoming ancient historical saga, the Distant Glimmer series. In the stories it’s called Golden Eagle Bay for the nearby Golden Eagle Clan. Today’s locals call this Owenahincha Beach on Rosscarbery Bay.

The new website design better showcases my available books too–A Place of Her Own, about my great-great grandmother Martha’s trek across the Oregon Trail, and Nancy Pearl Book Award finalist The Shifting Winds, about a young pioneer woman who finds herself in the midst of a clash between the US and Britain over who gets the rich territory of Oregon.

I have always used WordPress for my blog and a few other pages, while Christiane maintained Home, Bio, Books, and more. Now everything but the Home portal is WordPress, and I can maintain those on my own. With my former theme retired from WordPress I decided to pick a new theme so the entire site presents a new, more open face.

Same bay as first photo in post, shot at a different angle–this one the banner photo for WordPress pages

You’ll see the Home banner echoed in this banner for the other website pages, a photo taken earlier on the same beach that evening. This one shows the point of the eastern headland on the left. The Home banner shows the western headlands reaching out on the right, the headlands on either side seeming to embrace the bay.

During a fierce storm a lost ship crashes on that eastern point. From the now book one of the series, Whisper of Wings: “The ship had not found that gentle center, but the jutting crags of a promontory with its sharp outlying rocks.”

You can find more about my currently available pioneer stories and the upcoming saga on the Books page.