Learning under water

It was a stormy day yesterday, and the rain fell and fell and fell.  And so, this morning’s sun slowly rose over a flooded veggie field.  I could hear the arugula calling out, “hey!  we’re under water here!  Hope you enjoyed our time on your plate!”  The rest of the veggies didn’t even write a letter.

Truth be told, the Asian greens were already too soggy for harvest last week.  This field is wet all winter long and well into the spring, so it is never a surprise when this happens. But that never makes it any easier to watch all that growing food go under overnight.

Most everything growing there was well harvested though.  The arugula would have kept on going for a while, and there were some good Chinese cabbages we lost.  But between the deer eating all the other cabbages and the fall broccoli and what we pulled out ourselves, it was all okay in the end.  The frisee was looking really good and was fun and it isn’t planted anywhere else on the farm, so I will miss the pretty, spike-y spunk it added to the salad mix.

The real bummer was that the strong winds ripped a corner of our greenhouse plastic off. Those end walls we meant to build on it all summer; well, we never got to them.  So now, we will take all of the plastic off  and re-use a portion of it for the smaller propagation greenhouse we need to build this winter.  And then we will have to buy new plastic for this one.

A good lesson, all of it, always, this weather.  We could easily come away from these things feeling like we can never catch a break from it, never win.  It is a formidable foe.  But the beauty of being six years in and having this element of nature challenge us over and over again is that we had the choice from the beginning to decide we could just let it roll off our skin instead of sticking.  And we had the choice to decide that instead of caving in, we could just keep learning from each event as it happened, adjusting as best as we can to face the next round of winds as at least as well as we did and hopefully better.

Those were our choices, are our choices.  That is how we weather all the storms around here, big and small.  With a grain of salt and goggles if necessary.

Moment of Bliss

The rain has been relentless this week.  Our bottom field is flooded all the way to the river again, the third time this year.  This is seasonally wet ground, so the flood doesn’t do any harm for now since we don’t expect these fields to be dry until sometime in May.  Still, a full fledged flooding of the river to our ground usually only happens once a season, so it feels like something!  In fact, we are breaking rainfall records for March, so the feeling of too much rain isn’t just a “spring in the Pacific Northwest”  kind of grumble.  There has been A LOT of rain this week!

In spite of the somewhat oppressive feeling of the weather in general over here, though, I still find myself outside in a break from the wet, harvesting parsley for market tomorrow and breathing in such fresh, fresh air, thinking about how absolutely beautiful it is out.  Happy to be breathing, bathed in the smell of the cut herb, intoxicated by a tree full of cherry blossoms overhead, thrilled at the wildness of the patch of baby parsley’s all gone to seed and perennialized–my favorite kind of garden.

The children are climbing trees while the baby giggles from below.  I have my favorite hot pink gardening gloves on that were picked up on the cheap by the farmer for me and aren’t nearly the best we have on hand, but do the job and bring a smile to my face at the same time and are much easier to keep as a pair than his millions of left handed ones on the porch with no match!

And then we walk to the main field, grab some rutabagas for dinner with a lazy, old black dog and spry, young black cat following us, the two most favorite companions of our small boy right now, so he is laughing at them as I hold him in one arm, the harvest in the other.

Did I mention the air is so fresh?

And I am just so in love with it all–this farm, these kids and their father, this wild and precious life.

Sometimes it is impossible to live your dream and I don’t think we all get the chance.   And I really do know full well that at any moment I might lose the chance I have been given.  But there are these moments, and I just can’t believe the simple happiness of it all.

Rainy Days

Last week the weather went from snow to glorious-the angels-are-singing-and-I-will-stay-outside-and-move-compost-and-plants-way-past-dinnertime-sun in one day.  That sun was pretty much gone by Sunday, but for the few days it was here we reveled.   The last few days have been rainy and feel a little like a let down even when they are not unexpected.  After a few days of being able to be outside almost all day, the house feels cramped with paper scraps and toys.

We have gotten out, of course.  We get outside every day and the smallest boy doesn’t care what the weather is; he announces, “shoe! shoe!” at the door almost first thing in the day.  Really the rain at this time of year is made all the more bearable by the warmth.  Yesterday he and I harvested some veggies for the family and a trade account and it was so nice I had to take off some of the wool I set out in.  And the birds, so chipped themselves with all that bird song.   It is hard not to stay outside even as our pant legs get soaked.

We are at that point in the year when our bodies and minds feel a driving energy that time inside just doesn’t suit.  We can get creative and stave off true cabin fever for now, but who doesn’t really just want to be out in the dirt right now?  I know I do.

The first frost and what’s left of summer

Despite the warm weather most of these days and nights (even now, with the rain), we had our first frost in our lower field, a natural cold sink where all the cool air flows to at night.  It wasn’t a hard freeze, but it was enough to kill the winter squash plants and the tomato and pepper plants that were growing in that space.  We hadn’t yet harvested the winter squash because they were a little behind this year, and just two weeks ago they were not yet ripe.  Thankfully, by the frost most had ripened, and we got a good harvest, our best yet.  Now they are curing, although we have started eating the acorn and delicata squash–yum!!

We pulled all the ripe peppers as well, and both ripe tomatoes and any that had started to turn in color.  Those unripe ones will finish ripening in storage.  Thankfully, we had tomatoes planted in our upper field too, so there are a lot still on the vine, and those are covered, so the first early frost we get in that field (most likely in the next few weeks) won’t kill those plants and we should have tomatoes for quite a while still.

The rest of the early fall glut is slowing down though, just like that.  This week we didn’t bring cucumbers or summer squash to market for the first time since they started this summer.  It always surprises me how fast this happens, and I joked with the farmer that he should have warned me–I want to know when I am eating the last of something for the year.  Even when I take great pains to enjoy every flavor while it is in abundance, I would pay special attention to that last bit of something for the year!  Luckily, I am sure the kids and I can go glean some of these vegetables for ourselves, since they really are not completely done, just not prolific enough anymore to take the time to harvest for market or the CSA.



So this week, I plan to enjoy the last tastes of summer:  a few more meals of White Lebanese summer squash, simply sliced and roasted with olive oil and sea salt (everyones favorite!) or stuffed (so good!) and yellow summer sqaush diced and sauteed until browned. A few more cucumbers to throw on our salads and as many more as there are eaten out of hand by the children.  Eggplant in some of the last few eggplant recipes I wanted to try this year:  this and this!  And also in some of our favorites that we haven’t yet made this year:  moussaka and white bean and roasted eggplant dip (since as much as I love eggplant, I don’t love baba gonoush).  These alongside yummy winter squash and apple cider soups, turnip and turnip greens soup, and roasted pear, arugula, and balsamic vinegar salads.  The best of both worlds for another week, two if we are lucky!  And then it will be good-bye to summer meals for a good eight months;  it’s no wonder summer veggies are so prolific in their turn, they really have such a short window of time to bear fruit.


“Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit, and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day.”–Emerson

soon!  loads of gooseberries!

Today was such a quiet solstice day, some sun to celebrate, but it had to battle back and forth with all the clouds.  Even the celebratory weekend–with a few solstice parties we could have attended but were too tired to and a father’s day bbq we were going to host but had to cancel so the sick father-farmer could sleep–was slower than usual.  This year, there was no pit-roasted goat, mad cherry feasting, music in the barn, or fires with song into the night; our friend’s who hosted the celebration of the shortest night of the year we always attended now settled south in sunny (maybe) California.  Just like the strange feeling this month has had on some days that it is closer to fall than summer, today the solstice had an oddly calm feeling to it.  Nothing like the racous, wild abandon the coming of summer usually stirs up.

So rather than head to our favorite swimming hole–something we are all desperate to do (some of us littler ones would go even though the water would still be so cold)–we all spent the day quietly playing or working.  The little girl and I walked around the property, she climbing the ornamental cherry tree suckers that we have let grow up over the last few years searching out and munching the small, but edible, pollinator cherries they hold.  She eats fruit ripe or not, and although she tells me the cherries from the fruit trees in the back and those we pick up at market are better, she eats these by the handful.

Later we went out to the field to check on papa, and looked through the peas, sneaking a few here and there.  Most of them are still a bit small, but even without a big jump in temperatures, they should be ready to harvest this week or next.  It’s late for peas, but then again, summer is late, so maybe the peas are right on time.

I really don’t want to talk about the weather anymore.  I want to be able to take it all in as it is, each and every day.  I want to accept things with grace rather than grump.  I feel especially tired of thinking about it, of the back and forth of being sure that it will be warm…soon.

I love so much the feel of the sun on my skin, to be wearing sandals and tank tops.  I hate having to don sweaters in the months of June, July, and August; but this is something I have had to do on many an Oregon summer night anyways.  It is lovely and wet and temperate here, verdant and lush and not especially hot in the summer anyways.  Mild has its own virtues…right now I really wouldn’t trade this place for any other.  My heart has slowly migrated from what was home; now, this is home.

found! peas!