J is for...
The hills around the town where I was born have "polka dots"--dry brown grasses with juniper trees sprinkled on them. These trees cover much of the landscape in central and eastern Oregon.
Bed and Breakfast near Mt. Vernon
In an area that receives very little rainfall, they do quite well. Their large crowns catch most of the moisture that falls and their powerful root systems soak up the rest, thereby inhibiting vegetation growth around them. The fires the Indians used to set killed younger vulnerable trees, leaving the larger ones intact, which created an open, park-like appearance. In recent years, however, the juniper trees have spread more and more, which is of concern to the area's cattle ranchers.
Personally, I more prefer the Ponderosa, the region's other quintessential tree, but a juniper-dotted landscape speaks of home to me.
The following 5 pictures, taken of some acreage for sale near John Day in eastern Oregon, are very typical of the area. How I wish I could buy this property and build a getaway there!
Two more juniper pictures, this time from central Oregon.