Christmas in the Great Basin


In December, the Great Basin makes do with a meager palette. I often drive the better part of a day across the frigid “sagebrush ocean” to be with family in Central Oregon for the holidays. Hundreds of miles go by with only a wintry blue sky, the dark brown of volcanic rocks and dormant trees, faint suggestions of green on sage and juniper, wistful tan on the occasional wind-blasted building, and white skiffs of drifted snow. But every so often there’s a settlement — and the color red.

A few years ago, I came across this cheery wreath in Crane, Oregon.