Why Tumbleweed Tidings?
When I was coming up with a name for this endeavor, I was drawn to Tumbleweed Tidings for a few reasons. First, as an almost lifetime resident of Washington, every time I tell someone where I’m from, they usually say “oh, it rains a lot there, doesn’t it?” or “lucky you…..all those beautiful trees.” In all fairness to them, we are called the Evergreen State. But if you were to look at a topographical map of Washington, you would see that it could just as easily been named the Tumbleweed State. Much of the state is a high, dusty, tumbleweed infested desert, and that is where I am blessed to live. Blowing tumbleweeds and all!
The Tri Cities, made up of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, is an area that really took off during World War II. It was then that it became the location for the Hanford Nuclear Facility, part of the Manhattan Project that developed the Plutonium used to make the bombs that were dropped on Japan and ultimately ended the war.
This secret project drew literally thousands of workers to this area to work on the rapid construction of the reactors and infrastructure needed to separate the Plutonium from Uranium. There were a few criteria that allowed Hanford to be selected. It needed to be out in the middle of nowhere, as to keep the mission secret. Check! It needed to have the proper soil content to support the making of vast amounts of concrete needed for construction the reactors. Check! It needed to have a large electric power supply. Check! And finally, it needed to be near a large body of water capable of cooling the nuclear reactors. We sit along the banks of the mighty and beautiful Columbia River, with its seemingly endless supply. Check!
Even after the war, the area thrived as the United States entered the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the need to increase the stockpile by producing warheads that could keep America safe, if need be. With the end of the Cold War in October of 1991, the Hanford mission moved from one of production to environmental cleanup. Needless to say, safe remediation and restoration of the Hanford nuclear waste is a complex task with rewarding technical challenges that require the extremely well educated, well trained staff that call this place their home.
Few people would move to Southeastern Washington for the beauty of the area, but once here, they learn to appreciate the 300 days of sunshine, temperate climate, robust economy, and the myriad of outdoor activities available in the Tri Cities area. Most of all, they grow to love the people, good schools and the easy living found here. Add to that its close proximity to Seattle, Portland and Spokane, without all the traffic, and you have a winning combination that has many people staying after retirement to enjoy the lifestyle.
When Hanford first opened, the wind would blow across the desert, the dust would come up, and the tumbleweeds would careen down the highways. These events were known as “Termination Winds,” as there would be a line of workers at the payroll office wanting to quit due to the horrible conditions. Luckily, after more than 60 years of irrigating the beautiful orchards, vineyards and other agricultural fields that surround the Tri Cities, it is not quite that bad anymore. But we still have miles and miles of tumbleweeds that will blow down the highways given the right set of circumstances, and the occasional brownout windstorms still occur. Not our favorite….
I came up with Tidings because its definition is news, information and reports. I hope to fill this blog with information that will be timely, helpful and inspiring. I also like the biblical references to tidings, especially in Luke 2:10 when the angel Gabrielle says “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be for all the people.”
And lastly, when in doubt, use an alliteration. So please join me for some Tumbleweed Tidings and good news from where I live!