In my novel Nearly Canaan, Joshua and Jaya settle into a place unlike anything they would have imagined. It’s desert, for one thing, where nearly everything has to be irrigated, for another. Quite simply, it’s a lot like Yakima, in the middle of Washington state.
The city’s doubled in population since I lived there, but I’m not surprised. It’s mostly sunny.
Here are ten factoids.
- The name applies to the city, the county, the valley, and until recently, the Indians, too.
- The valley gets nearly nine inches of rain in a typical year, most of it in the winter. Almost every green thing that sprouts requires irrigation. And if that supply fails, everything goes kaput.
- The valley produces more than 75 percent of the hops used in American beer – and a quarter of the hops used worldwide. If you’re a beer lover, be grateful. The locale also raises a lot of barley, up in the Horse Heaven Hills.
- The valley has more than 70 wineries. It’s become a great place to grow varietal grapes, many of which are pressed into fermentation elsewhere. On the globe, it lines up quite well with France.
- The trolleys have been running for more than a hundred years. Fun trip, by the way, especially the ones that run out through the orchards.
- The original site of the city was renamed Union Gap, made famous by the rocker Gary Puckett.
- Yakima County leads the nation in apple production, with 55,000 acres of active orchards. It’s the state’s highest valued agricultural product. By the way, they’re no longer mostly Red Delicious.
- The average income of an apple picker is $6 a day.
- The Native Americans have renamed their tribe and reservation as Yakama. One letter makes a huge difference.
- I still miss living there, especially Mount Adams every morning.
So what’s special about where you live?