What is in the VEGGIE BOX?
Lemon Grass, Cherry Tomatoes, Mixed Peppers, Eggplant, Chard, Arugula, Zucchini, and Potatoes
What is in the FRUIT BOX? Grapes, Apples, Ground Cherries
Hoes Down Harvest Festival
Saturday October 1 & 2
From 11am to 11pm\
Full Belly Farm
Join the fun-check it out-www.hoesdown.org
This Week on the Farm
Despite the predicted 100 degrees today, there is no question that fall is in the air. Even though I haven’t felt the drone of the airplanes passing overhead in the heavy air, the surest sign I know of for the coming of fall, I think it is not because it’s not there, it’s because I have been on the tractor and in the mountains for two weeks and missed it. But both being on the tractor and being in the mountains were beautiful and there is still time to stop and just feel the advent of fall.
September 21st has come and gone, and so the calendar says fall. In the mountains, hiking at 9000 ft with my now adult children, anxiously inspecting the huge vanilla-fragrant Jeffrey Pines out beyond Grouse Creek and before Horse Camp for dead needle sprays, being at peace upon finding little change, the deeply felt beauty of the aspen, cottonwood and alder color change, the cold rain squalls in the morning, all say fall is here. At the farm, the foxes have returned after a summer of hiding or traveling or whatever, and the small until recently increasing population of ground squirrels has had to take note of their presence. While the days remain hot for a few hours, it only brings a vague memory of the blasting heat of the summer that lasted some days from 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night. Gentle reminders are all they are. There just are not enough hours of sunlight anymore. Can you believe it? There are now more hours without the sun’s direct rays each day than with them.
The plants at Good Humus know it, sure enough. The peppers are tired, with curled leaves and broken branches and here and there a pepper that has been passed in the picking process, matured its seeds, and given notice to the mother plant that the year’s work is almost done. The basil has the same inclinations. On the tomatoes, so vigorous and green in the past 2 months, growth has pretty much stopped in obedience to the mandate of the season, and the flowers that pollinated, would have borne fruit fall quietly to the ground. The 3 redwoods outside the back of the house, now a 60 foot tall grove, are an exception to the fall resting time. I water them about once every three weeks, laying a hose and wetting the ground under and around them and also monitor the leaky water faucets around them to make sure there are the little seeps of saturated soil and cells of humid air that let them know that true home is not so far away. The beauty of the summer watering is that each time I water, within 24 hours brand new small lime-green knots appear at the growing end of each leaf frond, and in another 24 hours there is new growth of the same hue. It doesn’t stay new for long in our intense climate, but it happens every time. Just before we left for the mountains, I left the water trickling, thus flooding the area around the Canadian dogwood that graces our driveway and in the heat providing cause for worries about creating conditions for root rot. But when we got back, there stretching to the top of the tree were the now 2” growths, glowing like Christmas tree lights in the autumn afternoon. As silly as it is, I like to think I can hear a sigh of perfect peace coming from those trees when they feel the life-giving wetness of the manmade stream, and prepare to reward the world with their gift of new growth.
I grew up with a redwood tree that my Dad bought and I planted in the backyard of our suburban home in Modesto. Dad had a beautifully intricate and sophisticated spitter/mister system to keep that tree at home in that most inhospitable environment. At 50 ft tall, it was about the tallest life in the region, visible from several streets over. When Dad left our family home to live with Mom in an assisted living facility, we decided to sell the house that was no longer home to any of us. The redwood tree died all at once. Alive, then dead. My brother Marty, who is a forester by trade, my brother Larry, Dad and I carefully cut the remains to the ground in the course of an afternoon, gathered them up, and left a place transformed by so much loss. Rounds of that redwood linger here under these redwoods, hopefully for a long, long time. A four foot block of it is used for sitting on the back porch, for us to rest on our way out of in.
This farm of ours just over 30 years old, but it carries within it the threads of family memories that trace back over 150 years in Santa Rosa, Modesto, the Delta and the North and South Bay Area. It has thrived with these valued resources, but even more so through the gifts of the eons preceding this recent bust of activity. The soil life and fertility created by the beautiful oak woodland on this little bench of land are the gift of several thousand years. The foxes and ground squirrels and possums and hawks and owls and hummingbirds and jays that have returned to this small island of habitat and found it to their liking are the remnants of that woodland time. The subsurface water that creates it all is even older, pure glacial melt from the slopes of Mt Shasta from time before mankind.
In these truly fear-inspiring, tumultuous, uncharted times for humanity, the places of peace in the highest mountains or under a redwood tree, the certainty of the cycles of the seasons, and the still vibrant forces of nature that respond to the slightest gift of a place to be, are invitations to reflection and to a deeper understanding of where we are to be in a world that is not ours alone.
As the autumn unfolds around me, I am so enjoying the memories of 65 other years, the memories of a slowing of the pace, of the return of the evening, of the new timbre of a call in the distance, of wood smoke and football crowds, of the first rain. Let’s sit back and bask in the feeling that in our little personal world, in this tiniest moment of our lives, everything that we can see and hear and feel and smell is just as it should be. Maybe it will be like that on the farm this week. Let’s see! Have a great week~ Jeff