Our feature photo for this autumn is sunrise on September 26th. The waning crescent moon can be seen to the right, catching the growing light of morning. The rising mists take on dawn’s colors before coalescing and floating away over the Cascades as clouds. Color and intensity change rapidly at the bookends of the day, requiring one to be aware of the impending transition, put aside other activities, and observe the Earth and sky at work. I feel privileged to witness such beauty unfolding into a new day, or writing the final chapter of one.
News from the farm
Our weather tended toward cooler and cloudier in late summer, and a bit wetter than recent years. We were pleased not to see any days over the mid 90s, and the extra moisture helped with fire suppression and watering the gardens. Rainbows abounded; sunrises and sunsets were more dramatic and colorful than usual due to the canvas of cloud cover.
Early August was still fairly dry, but cloudy, as can be seen in this photo of Rick watering the vines. We had good grapes, but did not get the pinot noir netted in time. Birds, wasps and we suspect foxes helped themselves. Fox scat loaded with grape skins and seeds was noted along the gravel road, and the unmistakable growly bark of Mr. Grey Fox and family was heard off in the woods. We counted four of them this year. No wine was made this year – no wine grapes, and no spare time.
Time passes all too quickly here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Once again, another year has almost completed its cycle. The garden beds, except for the ones containing cold-hardy kale, broccoli and brussels sprouts, have laid themselves to rest following numerous sub-freezing mornings. We are grateful for the bounty of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Each year, Jack Frost, herald of Old Man Winter, paints a silvery shroud upon the land, smiting all but the most cold tolerant. The rising sun slowly warms the glittering frozen, stoically rooted in place; by early afternoon the extent of the destruction is evident. Dandelions, those cheerful, intrepid souls, still bloom, although much lower to the ground. Small birds attack the globular seed heads; the breezes disperse the tiny parachutes, which sometimes lodge in spider webs. After a windstorm, remnants of the webs, still carrying seeds, cling to their anchors, their builders dead or in hiding.
Like spring and summer, autumn wears a cloak of many colors. Although the reds and golds here seem muted compared to my native New England, western Oregon puts on a fine show, assisted this year by cooler temperatures and some summer rainfall. Mostly we observe tired leaves wither into pale yellow and brown, and quietly slip away with the daylight hours.
News from Canada!
Cynthia Reyes has published another excellent memoir, Twigs in my Hair, accompanied by lovely photographs from Hamlin Grange. The chapters are well-written, straight from her heart, the vivid descriptions leaving me with the feeling that I was there, too, seeing all through her words. Although I knew I would love this book based on her earlier memoirs, ” A Good Home” and “And Honest House”, I found myself particularly moved by her latest work, as she takes her readers through her early days and gardens in Jamaica, her first real teacher and mentor, Mr. Smith, to all the various gardeners she has come to know, learn from and share with over the years. Beginning with her accounting of her elderly mentor Mr. Smith, it became apparent that one’s relationships with others need to be tended just like our gardens, each person being different, with different needs. Lives are gardens, blossoming and fruiting if carefully tended. Love of gardening and love of life, even in the face of physical adversity in the form of a serious accident, are the ties that bind this work to the heart of not only any gardener, but to anyone with an interest in life.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
The Feline Correspondents Desk of Salmon Brook Farms received the sad news back in September that Lucky, occasional guest columnist and distinguished member of the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk has died. Lucky was recused from the streets by our friend M.G., who realized by his movements that he was blind. Lucky’s eyes were infected past the point of saving, requiring his eyes to be removed. He adapted beautifully to life on the olive farm, even climbing trees. On September 8th, his curiosity about the world outside the olive farm beckoned him to escape through a hole in the fence. He was struck by an automobile. Correspondent Lucky will be remembered for his plucky can-do spirit, and knowledge of olive farm operations. Mr. Nano, with the help of friends M.G. and J.P., will present the eulogy.
When Lucky arrived on the olive farm in Sicily, he was a wild one, blind and injured, and trusted no one. Time and patience eventually won over this tough marmalade street cat, and Lucky became overseer of the farm and his caring humans. His communication style was unique, described as sounding much like a quacking duck. When he needed to check his surroundings or go exploring, he would extend his paw like a cane, and wave it around until he touched something solid, or found empty space. Lucky also knew when to turn left on the walkway around the house because he could sense the changes in the passing air.
In spite of his blindness, he could climb trees, climb up on rocks, tables and chairs. Always testing the boundaries, he learned how to push the window screens out and escape. Furniture had to be moved away from the windows, although this action did not deter him. Lucky would sit under the window, staring up, and planning his next escape. His veterinarian called him Houdini. Lucky was also clairvoyant, appearing to know when a sewing project was being planned. He could found napping in the middle of the fabric or in front of the sewing machine.
One of Lucky’s favorite spots was under the grape arbor that covered the driveway. With his head pointed up, he could listen for the birds and track them with a unique head bobbing movement. Among his favorite locations was up the spiral stair case up to the terrace, where there was a birds nest behind one of the lights. He was not able to reach it, but the chirping and comings and goings of the birds fascinated him for hours.
Lucky took his gardening and olive tending activities seriously. He would be in the fresh tilled or planted beds or up the olive trees making his supervisory rounds. Lucky touched many people during his life. Friends who met him never forgot him and were fascinated by his ability to navigate blind. Correspondent Lucky will never be forgotten, and will always be loved.
Lucky is survived by M.G. and J.P., and all the feline and canine residents of the olive farm.
– Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
For those readers who missed previous posts or are new to this blog, I will be posting on mostly seasonal basis now. Hopefully someday, I may be able to actually catch up on the many projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, as well as stay in touch with all of you. I will keep the performance schedule updated regularly. New videos will follow as soon as I can get to it.
If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.
For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 16 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle. It has been an interesting ride, with more to come! I am now almost sold out of CDs and must get to work on the new one.
For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.
The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on YouTube. Anyone wishing to see the entire track listing and stories behind the songs should visit my personal page under MUSIC in the menu at the top of this post. Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked. Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.
In the meantime, in your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms