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The Clueless Eater

Hard Work

Image of a woman in a hat crouched over seedlings she is planting in a sunny garden.
Kathleen in her garden, Montrose Colorado, 1980.

 

 

Today is the first day of Spring, and I am sharing a very old photo of me starting one of my first vegetable gardens. This is in Montrose, Colorado, where we lived four years on the Western Slope of the Colorado Rockies.

 

On the downside, the soil was mostly clay, and we spent a lot of time trying to work in organic matter. On the plus side, we had a share of ditchwater from the Chipeta Water District, and it was as precious as gold in the arid, high desert climate.

 

Unlike the temperate maritime climate where we now live, Western Colorado had cold nights and hot days, even in the winter, when it could snow overnight and feel brisk but doable without a coat by midday. Our home was located a couple of miles west of downtown, on the lip of the Uncompahgre Plateau, in an area called Spring Creek Mesa.

 

We heated our home with a wood stove, and spent the weekends in the summer gathering wood from the National Forest. The air was so clear, that we could see thunderstorms advancing towards us from the Utah border, sixty miles away. The altitude was high enough that one had to correct recipes for baking. We now live at sea level, so I don't have that excuse anymore!

 

So I wish you well for your gardens this year. So far, we have purchased snap pea starts, and I plan to start some golden beets and carrots pretty soon. It looks as though our purple cabbage, which I planted quite late, made it through the winter, where it will join our chard and arugula in my Red Pine Garden plot.

 

I miss the camaraderie of my garden at The Rock Farm, but Phil Rockefeller tells me I can visit, and that one hive of his bees made it through the winter.

 

If you need some gardening inspiration, here are the delightful Toad and Frog, created by Arnold Lobel, sharing tips:

Frog and Toad in "The Garden"

 

Remember, it is hard work.

 

 

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Books I read in 2017

Ten Books I read in 2017
Books I read in 2017

History, poetry, geography, finding familiar sounds and rhythms in the language of others – these are a few of my favorite things. Colson Whitehead reminds us again how brilliant he is, Sherman and Claire write brave memoirs reminding us that their success as adults did not come out of an easy place, with helicopter parents meeting their basic needs. Julie Salverson documents the secret of a horrendous crime inflicted on First Nations people in Canada, and how they chose to respond, along with her own secrets. Emmy Perez and Laura Da’ stitch us to the land with words, while Lauret Savoy and Coll Thrush make us look again to see what we missed the first time. Isabel Quintero shows how difficult high school can be in its own right, yet offer shelter from impossible home situations. Rosalie Morales Kearns’ near future novel, in which women say ya, basta! could not be timelier.  Read More 
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An anchor

Trees on our property
This is the northwest corner of our property, facing south.

On the far left is a cedar cultivar we planted after a hundred-foot Douglas fir fell during a windstorm, its roots weakened by laminated root rot. We were lucky that it missed the house when it fell, and a neighbor volunteered to cut it up and haul it away for firewood.

Over the next couple of years, a madrone that had been intimately involved with the Doug fir slowly died, having been partially uprooted in the fall. It never quite recovered. We had to remove it, too, and now salal has spread to occupy the space and light once occupied by those two trees. The cultivar will never get as tall as the Doug fir, but it promises to fill out and provide screening from the street.

West of the salal is a younger madrone, leaning for the light,  Read More 
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Trace

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Trace

By Lauret Savoy
Counterpoint, 2015

This book was recommended to me by Donna Miscolta when it first came out. I was too busy at the time to read it, but I just finished it a few days ago and have to share my joy.

Savoy, an environmental sciences and geology professor at Mount Holyoke College, travels the land with the keen eye of a scientist and the sensitive heart of a memoirist. Each place she pauses, she leads us in catching our breath and examining the land for its ancient presence, “grounding” us in the landscape before turning to her personal connections, or disconnections, to the land.  Read More 
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Bed Time

While some gardeners are putting their beds to sleep for the season, mine is just warming up! Yellow beets gave way to snow peas. Snow peas gave way to red cabbage. I’ve got a second, sweeter crop of carrots, new crops of broccoli and chard, and every other day I harvest a few potatoes. I tried to grow blue ones, but I must have picked up the wrong starts at Bainbridge Gardens! I made soup with them the other night along with a cup of dried nettles picked earlier this year at Suquamish.

We had a hot, dry summer in the Northwest, punctuated by bad air from fires to the north, east, and south. Some days were apocalyptically bad, with the worst air I have tried to breathe since leaving smog-filled San Bernardino in the 1970s. But the plants loved the days of endless sunlight, rare up here.

Fall means  Read More 
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REC - Resources, Education, Compassion

Mount Tahoma and ferry from Bainbridge during the eclipse
Like many of you, I have been watching the news and worrying about friends and family in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. People are struggling to keep their families safe, and circumstances are bringing out the heroic in others. Meanwhile, the recent wildfires in British Columbia and the Western United States have produced the worst air  Read More 
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Culinary Arts and Local Food

For years and years, my husband and I have visited a magic place on the Washington coast called the Shelburne Inn. It was first recommended by a friend of the chef at the restaurant, but we soon fell in love not only with the food and the brilliant, clean light sweeping up and down the wide beaches, but with innkeepers Laurie Anderson and David Campiche. Laurie always appears calm and collected in the midst of the storm. David is always happy to slip away for a moment for a glass of beer or wine. In my book The Deepest Roots, I credit them with making me aware of the abundance of local food that can be grown, purchased or foraged year-round in Washington State. David grew up on the Long Beach Peninsula, and met Laurie when she got her father’s truck stuck in the deceptively soft sand on the beach. Read More 
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Vending Veggies

Sam Lillie of Veggie Vinder with giant kale leaf. or is that Swiss Chard?
At a reading from The Deepest Roots in Port Townsend, Washington, at the Imprint Bookstore, I met food purveyor Sam Lillie. His business is called Veggie Vinder.

-First of all, did you grow up in Port Townsend? If not, why did you choose to locate here?

I'm originally from San Diego. I moved to Port Townsend in December of 2015 about a month after I finished thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It took five months to complete and, because I solo hiked, I spent the majority of it alone. I returned to San Diego but felt claustrophobic from the amount of people. I have family in Port Townsend and was offered a place to stay while I transitioned back into the "real" world. It's been perfect. I get to wake up, have coffee, see deer, and be a part of such an incredible community. I applied to, and was rejected from, 106 companies across 4 states before starting Vinder.  Read More 
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The Earth is Flat

Breaking Ground on the Sound to Olympics Trail
The Earth is Flat

It seemed like a good idea at the time. A non-motorized trail that would run all the way from the ferry terminal to the Olympic Peninsula, providing a safe way for bicyclists, wheelchairs, and pedestrians to get closer to the ground. Wilderness would be accessible to all, and cars would be kept in their place. I supported it. I thought it would maintain a green corridor through the middle of the island.

This was a case of “be careful what you wish for.”  Read More 
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"Another World is Possible"

I was thrilled and humbled to walk with upwards of 100,000 people in the Womxns March Seattle last Saturday. 50,000 had been expected by the organizers.

Women of all ages, colors, religious backgrounds and agendas turned out to say we have better things to do than help this man take away our rights - to education,  Read More 
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