Find me in the flood

Find me in the flood

I wake at six o’clock to a steady, soaking rain. Yes. Not yes because I’m excited to be out in the cold and wet all day, slogging around in my mud-caked boots, or because I’m particularly ready to jump out of bed in the pitch darkness of late November. It just sounds good. It sounds right. It sounds like late November should sound in the Willamette Valley, finally.

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When "so much" feels easy

When "so much" feels easy

And all of a sudden, the season is nearly done and I haven’t written in a month and there is still. so. much.

So much to catch up about here, so much to finish at the farm before I drop it for the winter, so much recovery, so much gratitude, so much to mull over, talk about, try to improve. At times in the midst of the season, when I’d be chest-high in crates of peppers to sort or swirling amongst fifty eager people doing ten different projects, the “so much” felt like too much, and I would long for the winter, when I could reminisce with romance while my back rested and my skin faded back to its usual pasty hue. Sometimes, farming throws at us just too much to truly enjoy.

But then the markets end for the season, and every day is no longer completely consumed by harvest and processing….

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Plowing flowers

Plowing flowers

“Odder than plowing flowers,” someday, will be a proverb. You’ll say it when you’re ripping down old wall paper that could eke by for another few years. When you’re cutting a friend’s hair that’s grown beautifully to their waist. When a spring ice storm splits open your full-in-bloom cherry trees. You’ll say it when a friend puts to sleep their cat that doesn’t seem that old or decrepit, and when your teenager cleans out the fridge and tosses a few bags of veggies that were still salvageable. It’ll be the perfect utterance when you’re sorting through all your children’s artwork you’ve saved over the years, and somehow, bittersweetly, choose which pieces to let go.

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In sight

In sight

A week, a journey through another food shed, a rain, a flurry of breakdown, and just like that: I can see the end. Only three more market weeks. Six more CSA packings. Eight more apple trees to strip. Three and a half greenhouses to flip into winter crops. Another acre of crops to till under, and four acres to cover crop in a frenzy before the rains come. Seven beds of garlic to sow. Five sections of black plastic to lay out for next year’s early plantings. A few tons of potatoes to wash, a dozen tours to give, and a couple hundred volunteers to train.

Piece of cake.

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Autumn teaser

It rained over the weekend.  Lightly and little, but the ground was wet when I woke up on Monday morning.  We all had different reactions to it this morning, equally confused by the sun's heat beaming down on us after an unusually chilly morning.  Is it coming?  Is summer already passing?  I have a hard time believing that, even when glancing at the extended forecast (sunny upper seventies to low eighties, nights around fifty degrees for the next ten days) that seems remarkably cool for a time of year that usually bakes us.  But the mornings feel crisp, the morning dew has returned, and yellow leaves on the trees are beyond what drought would cause.

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Staying in love

Staying in love

It's the middle of August.  The broccoli is done, for the first time since it came on in June, for about a month.  Spinach has been missing for while, each planting succumbing to premature bolting before we can get anything out of it.  Bok choy seems like a long-ago dream by this point.  Radishes, salad turnips, green onions, cilantro, kale-- all those enthusiastic harbingers of spring harvest season have come and gone.  In their wake we're left with corn, eggplant, and celery.   Red and yellow peppers, finally ripening to fullness in the greenhouses and fields.  Heirloom tomatoes finally glowing in mismatched collections, melons almost ready to burst, Asian pears ripening to yellow, bigger than in years past.

And exhausted as I am by the harvest, blinded to the vividness of each tomato by the sheer abundance of them, I still find myself giddy on a regular basis. 

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A fell swoop

A fell swoop

Tuesday, October 25.  Good a day as any for the first frost of the season.  I had been anticipating it for weeks, trailing off to imagine the frantic covering of rows and harvesting of tomatoes and basil that, in the end, didn't happen.  We were all-- rough yellow basil, split tomatoes, puny zucchinis, worn down hands-- ready.  We knew it was coming.  We'd been waiting and wondering and not really sure if a few degrees would really matter.  Yes: everything changed in one night.

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