People can't seem to resist talking about the weather. It's always happening, and it's always different, and I guess it's an experience that everyone nearby shares to some degree. This time of year, the weather tends to be wholly unpredictable in the Willamette Valley. And on the farm, the microclimates of my days fluctuate faster and greater than anywhere else I've been.
Today I looked out over my coffee mug to a gray morning rain, and accepted the fact that I'd be in rubber boots and waterproof bibs all day. Just accept it. It's never as bad as it looks like it'll be from inside, and it wasn't. It was clearing up when I got to the farm, and though I did indeed wear rain gear all day, I didn't need it half the time. My big old down farm jacket came off half way through the morning as I hiked back and forth between the greenhouses and the farmstand where we've started seeding new trays. Then I didn't need my fleece hoodie after a while of kneeling down to secure a big swath of landscape fabric in the overflow greenhouse.
Which is in fact catching the overflow from the nursery house. Today I took a lively teenager, who's a neighbor and regular volunteer, with me to roll out a wide black mat of plastic mulch down the length of the second greenhouse. We secured it with thick metal staples before spacing out old milk crates and finding intact pallets to lay out for low tables. A couple other regular volunteers joined in and helped build the rest of the run of pallets while we started moving plant sale trays. The trays had been stacked atop one another in the main nursery house, waiting for space. Now they're lined out neatly two-thirds of the way down the next house, and more will flow over as we continue to pump the nursery with seeds. Amidst all this hubbub of building and moving, we stopped for a minute to marvel at the beat of hail on the greenhouse roofs: brief, chilly, deafening. It stuck and rolled into the end of the open greenhouse, and as always when it hails, I had a moment of panic thinking of baby plants getting pummeled by ice balls, and then relaxed remembering that all the seedlings are still under cover, if they're even sprouted by now.
Before long the sun was shining again, and I was in my T-shirt under those goofy bib overalls. Then a baseball cap instead of my warm fleece hat. Then the fleece hat over the baseball cap when the sun didn't warm things up as much as it seemed. And the fleece hoodie back over the T-shirt, on and off again a couple times as I went in and out of the different houses carrying trays, slipping and tripping on the muddy berm at the edge of the house, laughing at all the stories teenagers come up with.
At noon the morning "crew" took off and a couple other volunteers dropped in, like a passing of the guard. The afternoon group stayed in the farmstand for the most part, dipping out every now and again to catch the sunlight, warm up a bit after standing still for an hour of seeding. While I wanted to be there with them, breaking up the silence, answering questions, helping to make some meaning of what we're all doing here, I had to keep to myself for a while in the nursery. It still takes a lot of brain power for me to sort through all our plants, figure out how to organize them, what to re-seed when varieties don't germinate well, and it helps to be alone for that. So I survey and sort and move trays for a while, decide what peppers and eggplants to replace, and put my jacket back on as I make one more trip to the seeding party with a few more trays to finish up.
Back and forth, on and off, sun and rain, warmth and cold.
At this time of the year, I'm always reminded of a song I wrote several years ago. It's when the daphne's in bloom, and people can't resist talking about the crazy weather, and everyone's ready for summer to come: There is never enough, then there's too much, and it's too cold it's too damp outside, then it's too hot and it's too dry, and it's all heavy on my chest. (It sounds better sung, preferably with a four part harmony!) This year though, it's not so heavy. I'm getting better at accepting the days, changing with the seasons, riding each fluctuating hour. I see people at the farm appreciating and reacting to every shift of the weather, and I take heart.